You just started your career as a real estate broker. This is your first time to have a job like this – talking to people, persuading them that your properties are the best and talking them into making that purchase with you. Although you’ve had experience in marketing from your previous employer, you understand how the real estate industry is diverse. This is your first job in the industry, and as much as possible, you want to know what to do and not do. You want to make a good impression and have stability in the long run. For you to achieve that goal, it’s crucial for you to know what to avoid when you’re in the real estate industry. And as a broker, you should be knowledgeable about fraud, puffing, and misrepresentation.
What is fraud?
Simply explained, fraud is being dishonest. There are a lot of ways you can be dishonest. And unfortunately, in your line of work you’re prone to stretch the truth if you’re aim is to sell. It’s dishonest, for instance, when you tell an interested buyer that the property he or she’s eyeing for includes new fixtures when in fact, it’s not.
What is puffing?
Puffing is an exaggeration of a fact. And if you’re determined to earn a sale just to meet the monthly quota, chances are, you’ll be puffing your way to attain that goal. For example, you can say something like, “Man! This property is enormous” when you’re talking to your interested buyer over the phone, but in reality, the property is just spacious and not that big at all.
What is misrepresentation?
Misrepresentation in real estate is purposely making false statements just to talk anyone into agreeing to a contract with you. If you’re deliberately in need of a sale, doing this might seem like an easy solution, but there are legal consequences once you do this.
How can you deal with fraud, puffing, and misrepresentation legally?
You should be honest in what you do, especially now that you’re in the real estate industry. You should strive to earn a sale and loyal customers for you to make a mark in the industry – on a positive note, that is. But if you’ll be accused of either fraud, puffing or misrepresentation in the future, it’s best if you know what to do legally. Real estate litigations are tedious processes, and you should know how to deal with them, so that if you find yourself dealing with one you’ll be able to exercise your rights while ensuring that your name is not affected in any way. You can legally deal with fraud, puffing, and misrepresentation by:
- Working with an experienced attorney
Hiring professional help is one of the best options you have whenever you’re involved in real estate litigation. Seeking the help of an attorney who has years of experience in similar cases can give you the leverage to win the lawsuit. The attorney you’ve hired to work with you will also make it easy for you to understand what is happening in the proceedings. He/she will make everything easier for you while you can still have time to attend to other things in your life such as your job and your family.
- Reading the lawsuit documents with your attorney
When you’re accused by a buyer of fraud, for example, you’ll be receiving necessary lawsuit documents which include vital information such as the name of the plaintiff (in this case, the buyer), the details of the complaint and your name as the defendant. Once you receive documents like these, make sure that you review them thoroughly with an attorney. He/she can determine if the information that the document presents is strong enough for a lawsuit.
- Providing a response immediately
Just because you think you didn’t do anything, doesn’t mean that you should just ignore the lawsuit documents. Once you receive these documents, a response is expected from you. Because if you don’t acknowledge the documents or make a response, you’re waiving your rights to be heard and you’re letting the plaintiff win the case – without doing anything about it. Different states have different laws on how long are you allowed to respond to lawsuit documents, but mostly, it’s within 30 days after the receipt. After 30 days, you’re not welcome to defend your side anymore.
- Not talking to the plaintiff directly
Talking about things privately with the plaintiff seems like a good idea to save both parties from the hassle of a lawsuit but once documents are sent to you, doing this will not do any good. Instead, it might even make the situation worse. For one, initiating a talk with the plaintiff can mean that you’re taking responsibility for what happened and it might seem like you’re at fault. Never talk with your plaintiff directly and ensure that everything you’re saying (and doing) is with the approval of your attorney.
Every job in the world is indeed challenging. One small move can either make or break your career. And since you’re just starting to build your name in the real estate industry, you would want things to go your way. The road to your success in this industry might still be long, but you can take huge steps once you know what to avoid and what to do about these issues legally. Of course, you don’t want the latter to happen, but it also pays once you’re educated on what to do.
This is a guest post by Cindy Dowling. She is a part time writer who offers a fresh take on various law topics with the pieces she writes for local firms. Cindy enjoys a good cup of coffee and a good book whenever she has the time.