When we buy or sell our homes, we usually place our trust in a real estate broker. We depend on their knowledge of the market, their expertise in securing the right price for us and we have faith that our real estate broker has our best intentions in mind. But what happens when that trust is broken?
What is Broker Fraud?
The most often reported example of broker fraud is misrepresentation. Some examples of misrepresentation include:
- Breach of contract by the broker
- Including foreclosure listing details that result in fraud
- Not following disclosure requirements
- Title insurance fraud, such as a phantom sale or a short sale
- Misrepresentation of a home’s details that make the sale less appealing
- Not possessing the proper credentials or license
If a broker is convicted of fraud, the penalties can be harsh. The broker may face monetary fines, have their license suspended or revoked and may have to pay the plaintiff damages. The broker may even face federal charges for bank fraud or grand larceny.
How to Avoid Broker Fraud
It can be difficult to recognize the potential for fraud if you are not experienced in the area of real estate, but there are steps you can take that can save you the heartbreak resulting from this fraudulent activity.
- Read the fine print. Make sure you read the broker agreement carefully before you sign anything. It is a good idea to have an attorney read through the agreement for you to spot any errors.
- Do your research. Ask your friends and family members to recommend a broker they have used and trust. Read reviews on the internet, and do not be afraid to walk away from any situation that makes you feel less than confident.
- Become familiar with the process. Have an understanding of the process of buying and selling a home. This can help you spot inconsistencies before you sign on the dotted line.
Home ownership is seen as a large part of the American dream. Don’t let an unscrupulous broker ruin your hard work and planning. If you need assistance with possible broker fraud, or if you feel you are the victim of any type of financial fraud, contact Harman Law to schedule your free consultation.
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