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The Top 5 Reasons Real Estate Agents Get Sued
As a real estate agent, making a mistake can lead to legal trouble if you aren't careful. Being an agent requires you to keep track of sensitive client information and meet deadlines for those clients without letting anything slip through the cracks. Even the slightest mistake can cost you your career. While accidents are inevitable, it is important to know what real estate mistakes you should try to avoid. 1. Failing to disclose a defect If you know that there is a defect on a house that you are selling, you MUST disclose that to your client or the buyer's agent. Sometimes disclosing a defect can deter the buyer, but in some cases, the buyer decides that the defect can be fixed. It is your job as a real estate agent to disclose any piece of information involving the property so the buyers can make an educated decision about the purchase. Buyers backing out of a sale based on a defect is much less harmful to your career than a lawsuit because you failed to disclose an issue. 2. Misleading Be honest with your clients. Providing accurate information about the property and the neighborhood is very important so your clients can make an educated decision and to ensure that all parties involved are satisfied. While the goal of any real estate agent is to sell a home, if it requires you to mislead or lie in order to close the deal, then think again. Is closing a deal really worth your career and reputation? I think not. 3. Breach of contract When you enter a contract with a client, it is incredibly important that you abide by the contract and act in the best interest of the client. Breaking even the slightest rule, whether you do so intentionally or by accident, can be costly. 4. Bodily injury If someone gets injured while you are hosting an open house, you could be held liable. Before you open the doors of the showing, make sure that you have looked around for any possible dangers in the home. In order to prevent injury, post warning signs or verbally communicate the danger with whomever could be hurt. It is very important that you do whatever you can to avoid injury so that you are can avoid being blamed. 5. Selling in unfamiliar territory If you are selling in an unfamiliar territory, do your research! It is your job to be an expert in whatever market that you are conducting work in. If you fail to inform your clients about something regarding the location of the home or facts about the surrounding areas, you could be found at fault if there is an issue. By no means should this deter you from selling in a new area—just make sure that you have done your homework and inform your clients of any potential issues that you learn about. Unfortunately, any one of these mistakes can destroy your reputation and cost you your career. Remembering these tips can not only help you avoid being sued by an unhappy client, but they can also keep you on track to being a great real estate agent with a thriving career. To view the original article, visit the Zurple blog.
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Real Estate Copyright Infringement
Considering the popularity and huge success of real estate agents across such platforms as TikTok, and now the new Instagram feature Reels, it's no wonder real estate agents are focusing on video content more and more. With such a shift comes some consequences, specifically the possibility of copyright infringement (a.k.a., the worst nightmare of every video producer). So how can real estate agents avoid copyright infringement? What is copyright infringement and how can you distinguish it from fair use? We talk about that below. What Is Copyright Infringement? So, what is copyright infringement? Copyright infringement is the use of content that is protected by copyright law without the written permission of the copyright owner. How does it apply to real estate agents? Well, let's start from the easiest place. Sometimes your clients might want to use their own photos of the property. This can be pretty dangerous, since you're not so sure who photographed it. Maybe it was a professional photographer who owns the rights to these images. This might become an issue. So, as a rule of thumb, experts suggest not using third-party content if you don't know for sure who the owner is. And if you know, always ask for permission. As a matter of fact, linking to the owner of copyright is not enough. Copyright infringement in the real estate industry is most often associated with an illegal use of photography, but it's not only that. Music is also subject to copyright. Many real estate agents use music in their virtual tours videos, as well as at open house events. So what are the rules that agents need to follow? Depending on what type of video you want to use the music in, there are different licenses you need to obtain. Here are some examples: If you have an open house and you want to play a music during it, you need to obtain a performing rights license. If you're also recording your open house or hosting a live virtual event, you need to make sure that the performing rights license has video shooting permission. This license only covers live events. So if you want to record a virtual tour, you need to obtain a different license. In the case of a recorded virtual tour, you need to have a synchronization license. And as all lawyers suggest, you need to have all your license copies. What Happens When You Don't Have a License? A copyright infringement notice can do an actual damage to your content—starting from your content being taken down to actual financial damage. Most importantly, those financial damages can be "from $750 per work up to $150,000 per work," according to 17 U.S.C. §504. So if you're not sure about the content you're using, consult with your attorney. What about TikTok and Instagram Reels? TikTok and Instagram Reels are known for their videos that involve music. How are users using it without copyright infringement? Well, TikTok and Instagram Reels have their own library of audio sounds, the royalty fees of which are already paid. So you don't need to worry about copyright infringement if you're using music from the TikTok and Instagram libraries. In the case of using  copyrighted music, Instagram will notify you in advance to change your music, because it violates the copyright. Want to learn more about copyright infringement in the real estate industry? Check out NAR's video. For free images you can use without copyright worries, check out our list of royalty free image sources for your real estate website. To view the original article, visit the Realtyna blog.
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Are Electronic Signatures Admissible in Court?
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Are Electronic Signatures Legal?
Electronic signatures (e-signatures), which demonstrate an individual's intent to agree to something, aren't new. Their acceptance and use in many countries around the world have been widespread for years. Hundreds of millions of users worldwide are comfortable signing documents electronically. But are electronic signatures legal?
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Tips to Reduce Your Chances of Getting Sued as an Agent
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Beyond CCPA and GDPR: New Digital Privacy Developments that Realtors Need to Know
We recently talked about the new California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and its impact on the real estate industry in the United States. CCPA is the first domestic state regulation after the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and although CCPA isn't as far-reaching as GDPR, it will mean a change in the way real estate agents in the US handle and manage personal identifiable information for their clients and leads. Unlike the GDPR, CCPA is based in this country and, much like GDPR, has inspired other new privacy regulations in other states that are reflective of CCPA and the GDPR.
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Murder, Death, Suicide, Haunted Houses and Ghosts: Are Agents Required to Disclose?
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Building a Real Estate Team: The Legal Pitfalls of a Dual Agency
Building a real estate team is an excellent way to develop a successful and long-term real estate career. When you have a team, you can get more done, and bring different types of expertise to the table. However, there are issues like dual agency that you'll need to address in order to develop a team effectively.
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CFPB Fines Real Estate Company: Do Agents Need to Worry?
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Real Estate Agent Tax Tips: Are You Really In Business?
Many real estate agents work only part time, or work at real estate for a while and then leave the field. If you're in this situation and you don't earn a profit from your real estate activity, the IRS could claim that you are not really in business. Let's go over how to handle this, as well as some other important real estate tax tips. Real Estate Agent Tax Tip: How to Prove You Are in Business For tax purposes, a business is an activity you regularly and continuously engage in primarily to earn a profit. You can't get a real estate license, sit back and do nothing and then claim you had a profit motive. This won't pass the "smell" test. You need to be able to show that you were actively working to make money by trying to obtain listings or close sales or something else. It's also not necessary to show a profit every year to qualify as a business. You just need to be able to prove that your primary purpose is to make money. Many businesses have losses in their first year—and some may continue to have losses on and off for years afterwards. That's okay as long as you can establish that your intent was to earn a profit. Your real estate business can be conducted from home, full time or part time, as long as you work at it regularly and continuously. And you can have more than one business at the same time—many real estate agents work part time and have other businesses or jobs. However, if your primary purpose for being a real estate agent is something other than making a profit—for example, to incur deductible expenses—the IRS may find that your activity is a hobby and not a business. If this happens, you'll face some potentially disastrous tax consequences. Example: J. Thomas Orr, a Los Angeles schoolteacher, obtained a real estate broker's license, apparently with the goal of working part time at the activity. Unfortunately, he was not successful. For two years, he obtained no listings and sold no real estate. His only income from real estate was $150 for doing an appraisal. Nevertheless, he claimed he had over $5,600 in deductible business expenses from his real estate activity. The IRS and tax court concluded that Orr's real estate activity was not a business because there was no evidence he engaged in it in an organized, businesslike manner to earn a profit. All his business expense deductions were disallowed. (Orr v. Comm'r, 64 TCM 882 (1992).) The IRS has established two tests to determine whether someone has a profit motive. One is a simple mechanical test that looks at whether you have earned a profit in three of the last five years. The other is a more complex test designed to determine whether you act like you want to earn a profit.
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Facebook Housing Ads Run into Trouble with HUD
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New Drone Rule Affecting the Real Estate Industry
Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS), most commonly known as drones, are making an impact in many aspects of life. In the past, being able to use drones for commercial purposes, including in the real estate industry, had been complicated and limited to operators who had an FAA Section 333 exemption. That just changed. The first operational rule from the Department of Transportation's Federal Aviation Administration for routine commercial use of small unmanned aircraft systems became effective August 29, 2016. If you have been following the development of drones for commercial use, here are three significant changes to note with this ruling: A pilot's license is no longer required. A section 333 exception is no longer required. A remote pilot certificate with a sUAS rating from the FAA is required, if you don't have a pilot's license. Overall, with this rule, the FAA is making drone technology more accessible to the commercial sector. Real estate is one area where anticipation and expectation is high because with drones, one can take breathtaking video footage and make a distinguishable impact in the marketing piece of the property.
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Stop Calling Me! Understanding the Do-Not-Call List for Real Estate
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The NAR Code of Ethics: How They Apply to Everyday Business
The National Association of Realtors® Code of Ethics is a set of ethics guidelines, articles and rules set forth to govern the ethical behavior of all Realtor Members of the Association. Each member takes a pledge to follows these principles as part of their membership to a higher authority known as the National Association of Realtors. With the Code of Ethics, the National Association of Realtors sets rules and stipulations for Realtors in (1) Duties to Clients and Customers; (2) Duties to the Public: and, (3) Duties to other Realtor Members. This article is about what parts of the Code apply to almost daily practice of real estate. I hope you find this useful. While some of the duties and standards written within the Code do not apply to everyday practices of real estate, many of the ethical guidelines do. With over a decade of licensed real estate experience, I have personally observed many of the sections of the Code being misapplied, possibly forgotten or, worst, totally ignored. The last observation of “totally ignored” is inexcusable and is what gives some Realtors and brokerages a bad name among both other Realtor Members and the public. Consider this article a refresher course as to the duties and mindset all Realtor Members should have and uphold when both operating in business and dealing with clients, customers and members of the public. The Difference Between a Realtor and Real Estate Agent Many members of the public and, sadly, some real estate agents do not understand is the actual difference between a Realtor and a real estate agent. In our state, Texas, the State Commission issues a real estate license. There are two types of real estate license in the state of Texas – (1) Salesperson; and, (2) Broker. Each new license holder must start their career as a salesperson and work directly under a sponsoring broker. Simply getting your real estate license does not make you a member of the National Association of Realtors. A license holder would then have to join a local Realtor board to become a Realtor member. A license holder may practice real estate without being a Realtor. A Realtor member is a license holder who has chosen to join a professional organization to adhere to an even stricter policy of ethics and rules as a National Association of Realtors member. Remember this – you must have a real estate license to be amember of the National Association of Realtors. But, you do not have to be a member of the National Association of Realtors to hold a real estate license. In fact, most commercial real estate salespersons are not members of the National Association of Realtors. Why? Because the MLS, which is controlled by the local Realtor associations, is primarily geared toward residential real estate and not commercial. Therefore, most commercial brokers do not consider it greatly beneficial to be a part of the local Realtor Association(s).
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Zillow and Move/NAR Settle Lawsuit and End Trade Secrets Battle
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Best of 2015: Why Reusing Listing Photos Could Mean Legal Trouble
We're continuing an annual tradition of counting down our top 10 articles of the year. The following article was originally published back in March and is #2 in our countdown. See #3 here. That house you sold in 2012 has just come back on the market. You know you still have a picture somewhere--there it is--and the home still looks pretty much the same. You upload the photo and relist the property. No problem, right? Well, actually, you could be stepping into some dangerous legal territory. We spoke with Larry Lohrman, a real estate photographer and blogger in Salem, Oregon. He frequently writes about issues at the crossroads of real estate and photography. One of the most common topics of discussion on his blog is usage rights for photographs commissioned from professional photographers. "I have a friend who's an agent and photographer in Seattle," he says. After a conversation about just this subject, Lohrman's friend went back to his office of more than 80 agents and asked around. "Down to a person, no one" -- not the managing broker, not a single agent -- "understood that when the agents pay a photographer for photos, they aren't getting ownership of the photos. They're only licensing those photos for a specific time and purpose." A number of recent high-profile cases have brought this issue to light, and may be cause for concern if you're not 100% sure of the legal status of your listing images: In 2008, photographer Liz Ordonez-Dawes was awarded more than $12 million when the court agreed that her client's distribution of seven photographs to third parties constituted copyright infringement. In 2013, Palm Beach County photographer Andy Frame sued several websites over misuse of his photos of Olivia Newton John's home in Jupiter, Florida. In 2014, a class action lawsuit was filed against CoreLogic for allegedly tampering with and distributing proprietary photographic works to their MLS clients.
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Why Reusing Listing Photos Could Mean Legal Trouble
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Before You Cut And Paste Something Into Your Newsletter…
When you see a photo or article online, that would interest your clients, it's tempting to cut and paste it into your newsletter or website. There are two reasons not to do this: You're breaking the law. You want client to see you as the expert, not someone else. Almost everything you see online is copyrighted. There are a couple of exceptions: Things created by federal government employees on the job (like the Park Service's photo bank). Commonly known facts (like the phrase, "Location, location, location is the secret to selling homes"). How to Use Copyrighted Material Just because something doesn't have a © next to it doesn't mean it's not copyrighted. To keep yourself out of legal trouble, assume everything you see online is copyrighted. Protect yourself by answering these questions before you use something you found online: 1. Are you just copying it? Cutting and pasting a photo or article is a pretty clear violation of the copyright rule. Ask the owner for permission.
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Instagram: The New Terms of Service
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Online Notary: Future of Notarization!
At RETechnology.com, whenever we welcome in a new hire there are certain steps to orientation that are observed. The grand tour, compliments of Victor!  There are the team introductions, usually with the sharing of random, funny facts about each team player. And then there is the necessary paperwork, like I-9 forms, NDA agreements, etc.  With this comes the dreaded notarizing of the new hire on various documents. Why do I say dreaded? I think I dread any administrative task that pulls me out of my zone at work and interrupts my thinking.  Funny I don’t mind being pulled out of my thoughts to meet a new person, or speak to a client, but call someone and try to schedule a meeting?  I’d rather Tungle. Maybe I’m alone in this, but Googling a local notary and then tracking them down and trying to find a good time for them to come out to the office is painful. It’s not convenient and nine times out of ten we cannot get someone to the office that same day. With this in mind, I find the topic of digital video notarization of legal documents particularly interesting.
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10 Common Errors Home Owners Make When Filing Taxes
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Steer Clear of a Tax Audit for 2010
The Internal Revenue Service audits about one percent of US Taxpayers each year. As a real estate professional, you are likely to have an independent contractor relationship with your broker. Although your chances of being audited are pretty slim, there are basic principles that will reduce the likelihood of being part of that one percent. A few items to avoid are significant deductions for automobile expenses, home improvements, or outrageous meal expenses. By following these 7 steps, you can lower your chances of being audited.
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Smarter Agent Sues 13 Real Estate Technology Vendors!
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Keep Private Information Out of the Public Eye
The Information Age provides numerous advantages to real estate professionals, particularly in regards to marketing through social media channels, blogging, and emailing clients and colleagues. Building an effective online presense is a focal point of most real estate technology vendors. Real estate brokers and agents everywhere are beginning to see the necessaity for online marketing and communication. However, there is a downside to providing a wealth of information about yourself, your services and watching that information spread accross the Internet. The concern of personal information being leaking to the public is growing. Legal expert and CEO of Privacy Solution, Darity Wesley recently made a short video explaining three types of information, and what to be aware of. Continue reading to view the video and the summary of the video...
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