Legal claims and lawsuits against real estate agents in Maryland are more common than you might think. Real estate agents have a huge degree of control and information regarding the purchase and sale of homes. Because the sale and purchase of a home is one of the most significant financial transactions in most people’s lives, when it goes wrong, it can have tremendous negative consequences that lead to legal claims. Most real estate agents made 2.5% to 3% commission on the sale of a property once the sale closes. If there is on closing, they do not make a commission. That creates a huge financial incentive to get the deal done. When it goes wrong, sometimes a home buyer’s only option is to sue their real estate agent.
It is important to note that most real estate agents are extremely hardworking, honest professionals who are dedicated to doing the right thing for their clients. However, as the real estate agent and realtor lawsuit attorneys at Whitney, LLP have seen over the years, not all real estate agents or realtors act with their client’s best interests in mind. When this happens, the clients of the wrongful real estate agent are usually taken advantage of financially.
Whitney, LLP represents clients against negligent and fraudulent real estate agent in complaints, claims and lawsuits arising out of the purchase of residences. Consultations are always free. Contact us using our Online Contact Form, or call us at 410 583 8000..
Lawyers for Negligence or Fraud Claims Against Real Estate Agents
A real estate is negligent when they fall below the fiduciary duties that are required of them. Fiduciary duties are discussed below. Whitney, LLP’s real estate agent negligence claim attorneys represent clients in multiple cases where our clients were financially injured by real estate agents who were more interested in getting their commission than doing the right thing and complying with their fiduciary duties. These agents cut corners, do not follow up and the failure to act in accordance with their duties.
A lawsuit or claim alleging negligence against a real estate agent, and a lawsuit or claim alleging fraud are two different things, although the claims can be brought together. A claim of fraud means that the agent purposefully made a misrepresentation for the purpose of deceiving someone to get them to either buy or sell the property. The fraud claim can be a more serious allegation, as it means the agent intended to mislead an individual, as opposed to not following through or forgetting to do something they should have done
Whether the claim is for negligence or fraud, the party who has been injured or damaged has significant legal rights. To ensure those legal rights against the wrongdoing real estate agent are preserved and properly acted upon, it is best to obtain experienced legal representation that will obtain maximum compensation. Whitney, LLP’s real estate agent negligence and fraud attorneys have brought claims of negligence and fraud against real estate agents in Maryland on behalf of injured and deceived clients.
Legal claims and lawsuits against real estate agents can include:
- Generally, suing an agent for non-disclosure of important facts.
- Failing to disclose that repairs that were performed on a house for sale were performed in a substandard way.
- Real estate agent for the seller being aware of structural defects and failing to disclose them to buyer.
- Real estate agent for seller being aware of flooding and failing to disclose it.
- Real estate agent keeping deposit money and failing to return it after a purchase falls through.
- Real estate agent for buyer or seller charging fees that the client did not agree to pay.
- Real estate agent representing a termite inspection was performed when it was not.
- Real estate agents failing to disclose that there was an active bed bug infestation in a house.
- Real estate agent telling their buyer client that they will schedule inspections, and not scheduling them, but representing them as being done.
Real Estate Agents Have A Fiduciary Duty
A “duty” simply means there has been a creation, under the law, of a standard against which someone’s actions can be measured against. A fiduciary duty is the highest level of duty under the law, and is attributed to several categories of licensed and trained professionals, including but not limited to real estate agents, who represented members of the public, and enter into relationships where the professional is trusted to provide advice and guidance that the client would not otherwise have.
To put a fiduciary duty in context, it is the same duty that a lawyer has to their clients. It is a very high duty that requires the utmost care and diligence to the client.
These are the fiduciary duties that a real estate agent owes to their client, and examples of what those duties mean:
Duty of Loyalty – A real estate agent owes a duty of loyalty to their client. This means that the agent has to put their client’s interest ahead of their own interests. For example, if an agent knows that a client is interested in a property, but buys the property themselves and then resells to their client at a higher price to make a profit, the duty of loyalty has been violated.
- Duty of Confidentiality – A real estate agent owes a duty of confidentiality to their agent. This does not mean that if a seller tells their agent there is a problem with the property being sold the agent must keep it secret, because an agent has another duty, discussed below, to disclose all material facts. It does include financial information such as how much more or less a client is willing to buy or sell for.
- Duty of Disclosure:
- Of Material Facts – A real estate agent owes a duty of disclosure of all material facts to all parties. This means that even when the agent represents the seller, they still have a duty to disclose material facts to potential buyers. For example, if an agent knows that a property has water leaking problems, even if their client does not disclose it, the agent still must disclose it if they know about it, whether their client wants them to disclose it or not.
- Of all Relevant and Material Information – A real estate agent owes a separate duty of disclosure solely to their client in addition to the duty to disclose all material facts to them. This type of disclosure duty includes information known about the property being sold, or information about the other party, other offers, other buyers, and other information related to the purchase or sale they are involved in.
- Duty of Obedience – A real estate agent owes a duty of obedience to their client . This means obeying instructions as to what offers to make or accept. It does not include keeping secrets that other duties require them to disclose.
- Duty of Reasonable Care and Diligence – A real estate agent owes a duty of reasonable care and diligence to their client. This means they need to act as a competent real estate agent in all of their dealings with the client.
- Duty of Accounting – A real estate agent owes a duty of accounting to their client. This means that real estate agent has to keep safe all financial instruments that they are entrusted with, and keep accurate track of all financial transactions.
Maryland Guaranty Fund For Home Buyers’ Claims
The Maryland Real Estate Commission created the Guaranty Fund to help protect consumers against licensed real estate agents that cause financial harm. There is a simple process for making a claim against the fund, which allows for a maximum of $50,000 to be sought by a consumer. This link goes directly to the Maryland Department of Labor website where more information is available and there is a link to the complaint form (https://www.dllr.state.md.us/license/mrec/mreccomp.shtml)
However, before filing a complaint, consumers may want to consult with an experienced attorney who handles real estate agent complaints. There a number of issues to consider before filing a complaint, including the value of the claim, the specific facts, who other responsible parties may be, and other important questions that can have an impact on ultimately recovering for financial losses and related compensation.
To view the disciplinary actions against real estate agents taken by the Maryland Real Estate Commission, click here.
Maryland Laws, Regulations and Code of Ethics for Real Estate Agents
Real estate agents in Maryland have numerous laws and administrative regulations they must follow. When they do not follow these laws and regulations, and a consumer suffers a loss, the consumer can and should seek legal representation to determine how best to take action against the agent to recover for the loss.
Maryland’s legislature has set forth numerous statutes, or laws, governing real estate agents in Maryland. Those statutes begin here at Md. BUSINESS OCCUPATIONS AND PROFESSIONS Code Ann. § 17-101.
Maryland’s Real Estate Commission has also passed administrative regulations regarding real estate agents. Those administrative regulations are located here, under Subtitle 11, Real Estate Commission.
Maryland’s Real Estate Commission has set forth the Code of Ethics for real estate agents. The Code of Ethics is located here.
To search the Maryland Real Estate Commission database for Disciplinary Actions against real estate agents, click here.
The National Association of Realtors provides publishes an annual Code of Ethics for Realtors that Realtors are obligated to comply with. Here is link to the 2019 Code of Ethics. The Code of Ethics for “Realtors” is different than that required under Maryland law. A Realtor is a real estate agent who is a member of the National Association of Realtors. Not all real estate agents are Realtors, and the Realtor Code of Ethics creates an even higher standard that the agents are held to when providing services to consumers.
Experienced Attorneys for Claims Against Real Estate Agents
By hiring an experienced real estate agent claim attorney from Whitney, LLP to represent you in a negligence, fraud or breach of contract case, you receive professional help in resolving what may be an otherwise confusing and emotional situation. Multiple home buyers we have represented have been deceived by their own agent or by the agent on the other side of the transaction. When they address the problem with their agent, their agent often tells that there is nothing else they can do. That is often bad and self-serving advice by an agent who does not want to deal with the issue any more, or take responsibility for their actions that feel short of their duties.
Whitney, LLP provides free legal consultations in cases involving real estate agents. Contact us using our Online Contact Form, or call us at 410 583 8000.
We represent homebuyers throughout Maryland, including Baltimore, Columbia, Germantown, Silver Spring, Waldorf, Frederick, Ellicott City, Glen Burnie, Gaithersburg, Rockville, Bethesda, Dundalk, Towson, Bowie, Aspen Hill, Wheaton, North Bethesda, Severn, Bel Air, South Potomac, Catonsville, Odenton, Hagerstown, Essex, Woodlawn, Clinton, Annapolis, Severna Park, Chillum, Olney, Randallstown, Owings Mills, Montgomery Village, Pikesville, Salisbury, College Park, Eldersburg, Parkville, Bel Air, North Carney, Milford Mill, Perry Hall, Crofton, Pasadena, Laurel, Reisterstown, Ilchester, Lochearn, Edgewood, Middle River, Suitland, North Potomac, Fairland, Fort Washington, Greenbelt, Arnold, Landover, Clarksburg, Arbutus, Camp Springs, Cockeysville, Lake Shore, Langley Park, White Oak, Cumberland, Ballenger Creek, Elkridge, Rosedale, and Westminster.