Sometimes the past is one of the best learning tools around! Use the following Real-Life Errors & Omissions Claim Situation involving a REALTOR overstating a property’s condition to avoid a similar legal showdown happening to you in your everyday real estate career. And be sure to have a good Real Estate E&O Insurance policy in place to protect you in case you find yourself in the middle of a court battle over misrepresentation.
A real estate agent accepted a listing to sell an older residential property that had been renovated by the sellers. While the sellers only had the property for a year, they had spent a significant amount of money refinishing the hardwood floors, painting the walls and ceilings, and doing some minor electrical and plumbing upgrades in the kitchen and bathrooms.
Although the property looked to be in excellent condition with the cosmetic improvements, the agent marketed the property in the Multiple Listing Service and sales brochure as being “totally renovated.”
The agent’s advertising material and verbal representations overstated the improvements that were made to the property.
The agent was approached by first-time homebuyers who mistakenly believed that the home’s electrical and plumbing systems were completely upgraded. They submitted a purchase offer but waived their rights to a home inspection because they lacked the money to pay for it. Shortly after the close of escrow, they discovered that the electrical and plumbing systems were old and deteriorating and would have to be upgraded. They subsequently sued both the agent and her sellers alleging that they misrepresented the true condition of the property and demanded a judgment equivalent to the cost of the upgrades. The matter eventually settled before trial.
During the process of selling real estate, always avoid using adjectives that overstate improvements to property. More often than not, these adjectives lead to higher expectations and eventual dissatisfaction of buyers who may believe that they didn’t receive what they bargained for. Also, be certain when stating facts about the property such as age or structure, and don’t gloss over potential buyers’ concerns. It is important to never oversell (“With a little paint, I’m sure this would be great!”). No one wants to be the recipient of a lawsuit and a loss of reputation.
Do you have a similar story involving complaints regarding acting overselling a property to share with us? Send us your learning experience or just let us know what you think about this one! Just leave a reply below!
If you have any questions about Pearl’s Errors & Omissions Insurance for real estate professionals, give us a call at 800.447.4982—whether you’re looking for a new E&O policy or have questions about your current one. We’d love to hear from you!
You can also visit www.pearlinsurance.com/eo to find out more about our quality Errors & Omissions program, including policy features, risk management tools, and much more.