Whether you're looking to buy a new home or putting your house on the market hoping to sell, you probably already know that any real estate transaction requires great attention to detail in order to avoid potential complications before your closing day.
It's important to find a real estate agent that you feel you can trust to act in your best interest, who you are comfortable disclosing necessary financial details to and who has a level of experience or knowledge that allows you to rely on them throughout what can be a stressful process. Unfortunately, even with a real estate agent that suits your needs, situations can arise that can make you feel as though your purchase or sale was mishandled, leaving you with a sense of unfairness or worse.
Supreme Court Clarifies Duties Of Real Estate Agents
Under California law, the practice of dual agency, in which a brokerage firm can provide service to both the seller and the buyer of a property with their consent, already required a full disclosure to clients that they were each owed fiduciary duty by the firm individually. According to an article from the San Francisco Chronicle, a recent real estate case which contested the misrepresentation of total square footage of "living area" in the sale of a luxury home in the Malibu area has further clarified duties.
In the case, the buyer of the Malibu property discovered public records that listed the exact square footage of his estate - a number which had been approximated incorrectly in marketing materials provided by the real estate agent of the seller. The article details a unanimous ruling of the California Supreme Court, whose seven members found that individual real estate agents, or "associate licensees", working in California under the license of the same large brokerage firm (Coldwell Banker in this case), but from different branches of that firm do still owe a fiduciary duty to both the seller and the buyer in a real estate transaction.
Have An Advocate On Your Side
The clarification of this law is one step toward providing better protection to buyers who might otherwise be taken advantage of financially in transactions that are negotiated through dual agency. The laws that govern real estate in California are evolving and becoming more specific with each passing year. The best way to ensure that your rights are upheld and that any disputes that arise during the process of a real estate transaction are handled correctly may be to seek the services of an attorney with the experience to protect you and provide you the fairness you deserve. A trusted attorney will serve as your advocate and will have allegiance only to you.