You may have friends or family who often in passing say they are thinking about getting their real estate license now or maybe even ‘when they retire.’ If you have been a licensed realtor or broker for any length of time, you may have long ago tired of explaining that not only are the courses and examinations involved quite challenging, but the job can be complex and high-stress at times.
Not only are the hours long and demanding, there are many legalities to consider—and many different contracts and paperwork to complete, whether for a residential or commercial property. Most realtors take immense pride in helping their clients find the right properties, and sometimes may go months without a paycheck despite working many overtime hours, to include evenings and weekends. Because of that, it can be particularly hurtful—and even devastating—to find that a complaint has been filed against you through the Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC).
Although dealing with client complaints may be inevitable in one form or another throughout a realtor’s long career, it is important to protect your license at all cost. If you have been notified of investigation by TREC, contact an experienced law firm like BERTOLINO LLP immediately.
If you are concerned about how to prevent complaints from being filed to begin with, consider the following five tips:
- Know your clients. If you are dealing with a potential buyer who seems unusually difficult (and has a history of filing lawsuits or unfounded complaints), consider ending that working relationship as quickly—and as diplomatically—as possible. Even if you suspect they may purchase a property, trust your instincts about the potential for trouble later. If you do continue working with a troublesome client, document everything regarding the sale, and make sure to be very thorough with any contracts.
- Know your properties. This cannot be stressed enough. Full disclosure of any past or current issues with a home is crucial, and required per Texas Property Code Section § 5.008. Although it may seem tempting to skip over information regarding the most minor of defects, it is not worth the headache later. Any lack of required property disclosures could land you and/or the previous homeowner in hot water later. Always suggest inspections too, whether the potential buyer is to use a home or building inspector you routinely call, or one that they choose on their own.
- Do not get too carried away with the sales pitch. This could become a major issue down the road even if you just stretched the truth a little, or if typical promises (most commonly about property values rising) do not come to fruition later.
- Avoid finding yourself in breach of contract. Many complaints and legal cases stem from the breach of contract. If additional wording needs to be added to a standard contract, be very careful about promises and timeframes that are offered in provisions. Never hesitate to have your attorney—or the seller’s—scour the contract before all parties involved sign.
- Be educated on legal issues affecting the real estate industry, especially in Texas—but don’t play lawyer! To be a successful realtor, you must be detail-oriented, and staying apprised of legal issues will benefit you throughout the years; however, be wary about answering any detailed legal or tax questions that may come up regarding a potential sale. You don’t want to be held responsible later for a lawsuit or tax bill.
If a complaint is filed against you, do not go it alone. Your career and livelihood are at stake, and you will need an experienced real estate license defense attorney on your side every step of the way. The lawyers at BERTOLINO LLP know how to carefully research every potential case, and our results speak for themselves.
As soon as you are notified that an investigation is being conducted against you, contact us at (512) 476-5757 to schedule a case evaluation. We are here to help.