What kind of liability are we up against when we state our opinions?
Salespeople, brokers and company employees have to be careful with the statements they make to clients, customers and others in our profession.
Should we be certain that the party to whom we direct our statements understand whether the statement is an opinion or fact?
When is a statement of opinion permissable?
When can the question of deception arise in a statement of opinion?
How about statements of fact?
Should a statement of fact be considered an accurate statement, and when if not always?
Do you know what Puffing is?
It's not a nasty cigar or cigarette?
It's an outright exaggeration of the benefits of any property.
Is puffing legal?
You bet it is !
But you better make sure that your exaggeration can't be construed as fraudulent.
We all know that fraud is the misrepresentation of any material fact, and is perpetrated in such a manner as to harm or take advantage of anyone, which includes making false statements about a property and intentionally concealing or failing to disclose important information and facts about any property.
Now let's take a second and look at what constitutes broker liability.
An omission or misrepresentation doesn't have to be intentional for the broker to be held liable.
We have a little legal aspect to content with which we refer to as negligent misrepresentation. This little beast rears it's ugly head when the broker should have known that a statement about a material fact was, indeed, false.
The fact that the broker was actually ignorant about the fact is not good enough and won't be considered an excuse.
If a buyer relied on your statement you can and will be held liable for any damages that occur as a result of your statement.
Anytime something is intended to deceive a customer or client by deliberate trickery intended to gain an advantage, perpetrated by a company employee, or groups of employees, who makes deceitful pretenses, and that intentional deception results in an injury to a client or customer, that business, commercial or industrial activity, or corporation will suffer because their reputation is now perceived as counterfeit, worthless and void of integrity by consumers all over the nation.
It cripples the economy.
Broker's have been known to fail to perform specific acts, such as failing to bring the counteroffer to the buyer or seller. The broker may be held liable for damages resulting from a negligent omission.
What kind of experiences have you had with these issues?