As a real estate agent, it’s important to understand real estate law. While you don’t need to be a real estate attorney, you should know specific real estate law for agents.
There are specific laws you should understand. When you go into real estate, it’s important to consider which laws you should understand and when to recommend a real estate attorney. Let’s look at some of the real estate laws agents should understand, a few courses to consider, and when to hire a real estate attorney.
Most Important Real Estate Laws for Agents to Understand
1. False Advertising
You will need to understand the specific real estate laws having to do with advertising. This type of real estate law will cover the “truth of information” and will impact the listings you create, along with any other advertising.
It’s important to never use software to edit pictures. You cannot do this to make them more aesthetically pleasing or to remove visible damage. However, this doesn’t apply to virtual staging, which can be done.
You also cannot advertise a home that is 1,750 square feet as “just under 2,000 square feet.” These types of real estate laws for agents will apply to advertising online and offline, which includes home listings.
2. Disclosure of Information
You must accurately disclose specific information about a property to buyers. Most real estate lawsuits are filed due to agents not disclosing information properly or at all. Make sure you never give incorrect or even incomplete information to a potential buyer. Property details have to be accurate and truthful or you could end up in big trouble.
When a seller provides you with information about the property, it’s up to you to share that information with the buyer’s agent. If you don’t, you leave yourself open to a lawsuit in the future. Make sure sellers provide a complete disclosure form for the home before it’s listed.
3. Environmental Issues
There are some common environmental safety risks that you may have to deal with as a real estate agent. These issues may include asbestos, radon, mold, lead paint, unsafe drinking water, and a few other hazards.
When these issues might be present, a real estate agent should urge the seller to have a professional inspection done. Legal issues will come to the surface later if environmental laws are ignored. It’s best to have the property inspected if there are any concerns of environmental issues.
4. Fair Housing Laws
As a real estate agent, you should also understand the fair housing laws. Any violation of these laws can lead to a lawsuit, which can lead to a judgment against you. If you are found to be discriminating against potential buyers, it can become rather expensive.
Make sure you understand these real estate laws. They might be a bit different in local areas from one state to another. It’s not smart to risk your reputation over one deal.
A Few Options to Learn Real Estate Law for Agents
You can learn the most important real estate law for agents with the right course. There are a few options online you can use to learn the most important laws. Some of these laws are covered in a basic way in the pre-licensing courses, too.
The Blackstone Real Estate Law Program
You can use Blackstone’s accredited advanced real estate law program to learn real estate laws more in-depth. While this course is geared towards paralegals, it can help agents learn about real estate law. This course offers information about legal contracts, encumbrances, easements, licenses, and much more.
If you’re looking for a more in-depth understanding of real estate law, this might be the right course for you.
ed2Go Real Estate Law Course
You can also take the ed2go online real estate law course. This course will cover the basics of real estate law, title searching, investing, and mortgages. This course is offered in a self-paced and instructor-led online format for $149 for each option. If you choose the self-paced option, you won’t have an instructor and you can study on your own schedule.
This course will provide information about reading and understanding property descriptions, basic contract requirements, deciphering a home deed, information on all types of mortgages, and more. You will also learn about fixtures, easements, liens, and licenses.
If you take this course from ed2go, you will have a better understanding of landlord-tenant law, too. It’s a six-week course with 24-course hours.
Courses from 360 Training
Another option is to take a state-specific course from 360training.com. They offer real estate law for agents courses you can use for continuing education in many different states. The courses may only cover one area, such as deeds or finance. There are many courses you can choose from for less than $30 through this provider.
Course from The CE Shop
Another provider of pre-licensing real estate courses with many continuing education courses is The CE Shop. They offer several courses that cover specific real estate laws and count as continuing education credits. When you want to learn about specific laws, this is a good provider. Many of their courses will cost less than $50.
Courses from the National Association of Realtors
Another option for courses about real estate law is the National Association of Realtors (NAR). They offer a wide variety of courses on many different topics. Many of the courses from the NAR will also work for your CE credits. They offer a variety of options to choose from.
Many other providers of pre-licensing courses for agents will offer some form of real estate law for agents course. They may offer continuing education courses covering different laws. Not all real estate schools offer these courses, but many do.
Common Reasons Real Estate Agents Get Sued
If you’re worried about getting sued as an agent, you should make sure you understand real estate law. The best thing you can do to avoid a lawsuit is to understand real estate law and follow the laws. It can also help to understand the main reasons agents get sued.
The most common reasons you might be sued as a real estate agent include:
- Breach of Contract – If an agent fails to provide the necessary details by the deadline, it could cost a client the deal. When this happens, you might be open to a lawsuit.
- Failure to Advise and Identify – If you don’t explain an issue that is identified during a walkthrough or property assessment, you could be sued. Sellers and buyers have to understand the issues with the property before signing any closing documents.
- Failure to Disclose – You have to explain and provide the details of any issues with a property to the buyer’s agent. If you don’t disclose something you should have disclosed, you could be sued.
- Negligence – A very common reason you could be sued is negligence. This happens when you fail to handle your duties with the necessary care. Your job, as an agent, is to make sure issues don’t go unnoticed and you do your very best to take action when an issue is discovered. If you neglect to perform your responsibilities, you might be open to a lawsuit.
Avoiding these common reasons why you can be sued starts with understanding the laws you must follow.
When Should You Hire a Real Estate Attorney?
In some states, you will need a real estate attorney for any real estate transaction. The states requiring an attorney at the closing include:
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New York
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- West Virginia
According to CourtHouseDirect.com, these states require a real estate lawyer to be a part of any real estate transaction. If you work in one of these states, as an agent, you will work with real estate attorneys regularly.
Outside of these states, most agents will decide to hire a real estate attorney when a deal is very complex. If you get to a point where you need help on the legal side of the deal, it’s time to hire a real estate attorney.
While you can likely handle common contracts you deal with regularly, some deals might become rather complex. As an agent, you will likely recommend your client hires a real estate attorney, when a deal isn’t simple or common.
Anytime disputes or litigation arises due to a real estate transaction, you might need an attorney. The goal should always be to avoid this happening, but if it does, you might need to hire an attorney.
As a real estate agent, you’re not allowed to provide legal advice. This doesn’t mean you don’t need to understand real estate laws. You should have a good understanding of real estate law for agents. With the right course or courses, you can learn the most important laws for common real estate transactions, marketing, and other tasks you need to handle.