Buying a house for the first time is a life-changing event for any individual. But while you know what type of house you want or how many bedrooms and bathrooms you want there to be, there are real estate concepts that you might not be familiar with as a first-time buyer. With that, you put a certain amount of trust that your real estate agent will walk you through every step truthfully.
Unfortunately, some real estate agents do not adhere to the real estate standard of care, causing damage to home buyers.
Acts of real estate malpractice
If you are looking into purchasing your new home, be wary of the common acts of real estate malpractice, which include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Misrepresentation: A real estate agent misleads and deceives buyers if they advertise a property inaccurately and provides false information, intentionally or not.
- Falsification of documents: Some agents create fraudulent documents and alter information to deceive buyers into buying a property. Common examples of this are forged deeds and signatures.
- Failure to disclose property defects: Washington, D.C., requires sellers to disclose to buyers the property defects that they personally and actually know of before executing the purchase agreement. Otherwise, they can be liable for misrepresentation, fraud or negligence.
- Breach of fiduciary duty: The law expects agents to act in the best interest of their clients. They must adhere to their responsibilities, including obedience, loyalty, disclosure, confidentiality, accountability and reasonable care. Failure to commit to at least one of these can find a real estate agent guilty of breach of their fiduciary duty.
- Negligence: If the agent fails to act or takes the wrong action that causes damage to the buyer, they can be liable for negligence, despite acting in good faith.
Understanding the common types of real estate malpractice can help buyers avoid suspicious real estate agents. This can also aid those who already purchased a home but are unsure whether their agent’s acts are considered malpractice.