In a week filled with rulings that received more attention, the Supreme Court also handed down a decision in Koontz vs.St Johns River Water Management District, a multi-decade legal saga over property rights and construction permitting that has implications for environmentalists and sustainable development programs across the country.
Bottom line: property owners won this one. Read More.
A Maryland federal court has considered allegations, including antitrust allegations, against NAR and a Maryland-based multiple listing service made in a counterclaim.
Metropolitan Regional Information System, Inc. (“MRIS”) operates a multiple listing service in the mid-Atlantic region. In 2012, MRIS brought a copyright infringement lawsuit against the American Home Realty Network, Inc. (“Website Operator”), which operates a website known as “NeighborCity.com” (“Website”) that purports to offer a national real estate search and provides rankings of real estate professionals. The trial court entered a preliminary injunction barring the Website Operator from using MRIS’s copyrighted information – click here to read the earlier summary. Read More.
Breach of fiduciary duty is the most prominent issue in NAR’s 2013 Legal Scan, which is NAR’s biennial research project on prominent and emerging trends in real estate risk management issues. Other notable issues include short sale- and REO-related disclosures, agency, and liability of third parties such as appraisers and inspectors. State Internet advertising rules, social networking, privacy, and anti-solicitation laws are identified as the most important technology training needs. Property management issues are looked at separately in the Institute of Real Estate Management IREM Scan. Read More (login required).
A federal district court in Florida has awarded $2.7 million to the Key West Association of REALTORS® Inc. in its copyright infringement action against Robert Allen. In finding for the association and imposing such a large award, the court sent a strong message on behalf of copyright owners, said Attorney Steven Robert Kozlowski, who represented KWAR in the case. Read More.
Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway today announced that the nation’s five largest mortgage servicers continue to provide direct relief to homeowners in Kentucky and across the country as part of the historic national mortgage foreclosure settlement. According to the fourth post-settlement report released today by the independent settlement monitor, 1,757 Kentucky homeowners received more than $61.1 million in settlement-related relief from Ally/GMAC, Bank of America, Citi, Chase and Wells Fargo through March 31, 2013. Borrowers received an average of $34,806 in assistance.
The report also shows that as of March 31, 2013, mortgage servicers were processing additional relief claims for Kentucky borrowers totaling more than $2.1 million, bringing Kentucky’s total consumer relief to $63.2 million. The report compiles information provided by the servicers and has yet to be verified by the compliance monitor. Read More.
A New York court has examined a sellers’ lawsuit for fraud against a real estate professional who presented them with a fabricated purchase offer.
In 2006, Stephen and Janet Alikes (“Sellers”) entered into a listing agreement to sell their home. The court noted that Stephen was a retired attorney who had practiced law for 45 years, while Janet was a retired paralegal who had specialized in real estate law and had also once held a real estate license. The real estate professional who represented the Sellers was Shari Reals (“Salesperson”), whose license was eventually held by Andy Griffith Realty (“Brokerage”). Read More.
A Massachusetts court has considered whether a broker properly retained a share of the escrowed funds when transaction failed to close.
Lee Kupperstein died, leaving her three children (Joel, Robert, and Gordon) to divide her estate (“Estate”). All three children were co-executors of the estate.
One item in the Estate was a condominium that she owned. The Estate listed the condominium for sale with Susan Baum (“Broker”) of Berkshire Homes and Condos (“Brokerage”). The listing agreement contained a clause which stated that if a buyer defaulted on the purchase contract and forfeited the earnest money held in escrow by the Broker, then the “Broker shall be entitled to retain up one-half (1/2) of the Seller’s retained damages, up to an amount not exceeding the full brokerage fee due, in payment of services, advertising, and other expenses.” Read More.
A Pennsylvania court has considered whether a MLS participant was properly sanctioned for violating a stipulation agreement he entered into with a REALTOR® association.
In 2007, Thomas Wilkins (“Broker”) filed a lawsuit against the Pike/Wayne Association of REALTORS® (“Association”) after the Association removed some of the Broker’s listings from the Association’s multiple listing service (“MLS”) that were listings of non-MLS participants. The parties entered into a settlement agreement (“Stipulation”) that was filed with the court. In the Stipulation, the Broker agreed to: abide by the MLS’s rules; provide the Association with a verification form for all listing agreements; and he would only place listings into the MLS secured by him. Read More.
An Ohio appellate court has considered whether a buyer’s action for misrepresentation against a brokerage and its salesperson could proceed when the salesperson incorrectly told the buyer that she could lease the property to third-parties after purchase.
In March 2010, Billie Levert-Hill (“Buyer”) contacted real estate professional Jason Caccamo (“Salesperson”) of Associated Holding Group, LLC, d/b/a Prudential Select Properties (“Brokerage”) about her interest in one of the Salesperson’s listings. She told the Salesperson that she planned to purchase the property as an investment and would lease the property following purchase. Read More.
A Tampa, Fla., real estate professional has been dismissed from a complaint filed by a fair housing tester in November 2012, says National Association of REALTORS® General Counsel Laurie Janik. His case generated attention online and off this week after he posted an account of the resulting legal and financial complications on real estate social media site ActiveRain.
“What started out as blog post that I thought would get maybe 20 replies ended up blowing up and going viral,” says Jeff Launiere, the practitioner originally named as the defendant in the lawsuit.
According to the complaint, the plaintiff — an independent real estate tester — found language on a listing on realtor.com® that she believed violated the Federal Fair Housing Act, Janik says. Specifically, the property description mentioned that it was for “adults only… no children under 16,” yet it was not in a designated 55-plus community. Read More.