Alabama’s biggest real estate brokerage, RealtySouth, has agreed to pay a $500,000 civil penalty to settle allegations that it “strongly encouraged” and in some cases required agents to use its affiliated title insurance and closing services provider, without adequately disclosing to consumers that they had a right to shop around for those and other settlement services.
In agreeing to pay the fine, RealtySouth neither admitted nor denied allegations detailed in a consent order issued by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Read More
Long-time NAR General Counsel Laurie Janik will retire from the association at the end of November. Janik joined the association in 1977 as a summer law clerk and was named general counsel in 1987. During her tenure, NAR has faced significant legal challenges, including an antitrust lawsuit in 2005 by the U.S. Department of Justice challenging NAR’s policy on the display of listings on the Internet. Janik sat down with REALTOR® Magazine’s Robert Freedman in October to get her thoughts on the biggest issues the association has faced and what lies ahead. Read More.
A federal appeals court examined whether an ad for a rental unit claiming that the unit was a “great bachelor pad” violated the federal Fair Housing Act (“FHA”).
In 2009, Rachel Underwood, a listing representative for the property management firm The Connor Group (“Property Manager”), placed an advertisement (“Ad”) for a unit on Craigslist that stated, in relevant part: “Great Bachelor Pad! Our one bedroom apartments are a great bachelor pad for any single man looking to hook up…” 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.
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.
MERSCORP Holdings noted that three-judge panel of the U.S. Courts of Appeal for the Sixth Circuit ruled in favor of MERS, its parent company Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems and a number of MERS members.
The U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed a U.S. District Court dismissal of a recording fee suit that was filed jointly by Christian and Washington County Clerks in Kentucky.
“It is undisputed that the Kentucky recording statutes… do not expressly provide the Clerks with a cause of action,” Circuit Judge Helene N. White wrote on behalf of the panel. “Clerks are not within the class of persons the Kentucky legislature intended to protect under the recording statutes.” Read More.
A Tennessee court has considered whether a prospective buyer could bring breach of contract allegations against the seller, the listing broker, and the eventual buyers of the property for allegedly failing to disclose that the transaction would require short sale approval. Read More (realtor.org login required).
Once again, a real estate Web site is ruffling feathers by making performance data on individual real estate agents available to the public.
NeighborCity.com, a real estate search and referral service based in San Francisco, is facing lawsuits by two regional multiple listing services, alleging that it is violating copyright laws by using their data without permission. The lawsuits were reported recently by Inman News, a real estate news service. Read More.
A New York appellate court has considered whether a commission dispute should be sent to arbitration or to a jury for resolution.
Barbara Faraone (“Owner”) owned a parcel of land that she decided to sell in late 2003. Allegedly, the Owner entered into an oral listing agreement with real estate brokerage Land Man Realty, Inc. (“Land Man”), allowing Land Man to offer the property for a limited period of time with the understanding that she would eventually list the property with a friend of hers at Weichert REALTORS® Northeast Group (“Weichert”). During that limited time, Land Man introduced Capital District Enterprises, LLC (“Buyer”) to the property, but the Buyer did not make an offer. Read More (login required).