Houston Area Realtor Claims "Area Specialist" ... GETS SUED.

Real Estate Agent with RE/MAX Compass 0524642

Throughout the west Houston area Betty Bookmark presents herself as "The Area Specialist." Her billboards in the immediate area show her with her arms folded in front of rows and rows of text books with the caption "No One Has More Knowledge and Expertise Than Betty!" 


But how much knowledge should Betty have? 

A few months back Betty represented a seller where she found her elastic britches being sued off by the home buyer because it wasn't disclosed to him that the nearby - existing major highway was going to be expanded from 4 lanes to 8.

The construction was going to last at least 2/1/2 years and it would literally take up half of the neighborhood. Johnnie Buyer was furious and he cited Betty's late night commercials where she bragged "I am the only Area Specialist you should rely on." It was that term: Area Specialist that infuriated Johnnie. 

In the end Betty argued that she had no way of knowing about the upcoming construction as it was only a rumor at the time. Johnnie's lawyer, however, attended a public meeting by the Department of Transportation where he learned that bonds had been approved thereby paving the way for the much needed construction.  

What are you thoughts on this story? The truth of the matter is that this fictional story is close to a real story that happened right here in Houston. Should Realtors (especially when they call themselves an Area Specialist) be more in tune with the Dept of Transportation? Should agents look into expanding roads and growing area retail that could change the immediate landscape of the home they're selling? What about buyer's agents? How much should you be expected to know? What about your designations? Do you they open you up for more liability? Are you a "certified specialist?" 

Posted by
Greg Nino
RE/MAX Compass 
Direct & Text 7 days a wk: 832-298-8555 
Realtor since 2004
Mediator & Arbitrator for the TX Assoc. of Realtors
Member of the Professional Standards Committee for the TX Assoc. of Realtors
Arbitrator for the Comptroller's office for the State of TX for Arbitration of Property Tax Values

 Member of the RE/MAX Hall of Fame & Platinum Club


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Comments (10)

Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
Retired New Hampshire Home Stager

In my opinion...with no real estate experience except that of a home stager and no law background, except that of a billing clerk for a law practice...

there are so many people throwing around terms like "specialist" and I'm so sick of it.  I would love to see the agent in your story held responsible, and believe she should have known what was happening in that neighborhood. Probably highly unlikely though that a case like that would win.




Apr 28, 2017 12:31 PM
Nina Hollander, Broker
Coldwell Banker Realty - Charlotte, NC
Your Greater Charlotte Realtor

That's a very good question, Greg. In general I don't like all that "advertising" such as million dollar producer, neighborhood specialist, etc.

Apr 28, 2017 01:53 PM
Margaret Goss
@Properties - Winnetka, IL
Chicago's North Shore & Winnetka Real Estate

I used the term "local realtor" not "specialist."  I farm an area that I live in and walk every night with my dogs.  I'm always talking to people in the neighborhood.  I would never take that idea to an area in which I had no personal connection.  

I'm assuming Betty was from out of the area, and if so, may have deserved to be sued.

Apr 28, 2017 04:48 PM
Ed Silva, 203-206-0754
Mapleridge Realty, CT 203-206-0754 - Waterbury, CT
Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally

If you are going to promote yourself as the local specialist, then you should be on top of all that is going on, including the highway expansion

Apr 28, 2017 05:50 PM
Joe Pryor
The Virtual Real Estate Team - Oklahoma City, OK
REALTOR® - Oklahoma Investment Properties

Setting unreal expectations is a good way to disappoint anyone when you can't deliver regardless of whether you are sued. Betty should try to over deliver, not over promise.

Apr 29, 2017 08:46 AM
Elizabeth Weintraub Sacramento Broker
Elizabeth Anne Weintraub, Broker - Sacramento, CA
Put 40 years of experience to work for you

A good lawyer can make a case for anything. I don't happen to think road construction, especially when an agent doens't know about it and nobody else seems to know, is grounds for a lawsuit. It seems outside the realm of what an agent is responsible to know.

Apr 29, 2017 07:06 PM
Raymond Denton
Homesmart / Evergreen Realty - Irvine, CA
Irvine Realtor®

Being a Specialist doesn't mean you're also a Soothsayer.  I can tell you about my neighborhood as it exists today, and yesterday, but not tomorrow.

Apr 30, 2017 08:51 AM
Sonja Patterson
Keller Williams - BV - College Station, TX
Texas Monthly 5-Star Realtor Recipient for the Hou

It's good to be up on the latest developments, however, an agent cannot possibly "know it all". So, your point is well taken--best to not say you are the "area specialist" or try to practice law on the contract...

May 03, 2017 02:38 PM
Lyn Sims
Schaumburg, IL
Real Estate Broker Retired

I would have to say that most people with a brain will hear of an expansion of that type coming down the road (literally). If 1/2 the subdivision is going to be condemned under eminent domain then she should have known because she 'is' the area specialist right? It means you know what is going on. You infer that you know what is going on except when you look stupid. Take responsibility for your stupid moniker. Maybe it should just be 'agent' instead of know it all?

May 08, 2017 01:25 PM
Terry Kraemer
Exceed Realty - Houston, TX
Houston Realtor

I see our fellow agents have no love for this agent.  However, just because one claims to be a specialist, doesn't mean that they claim to know it all.  There are doctors that call themselves "specialist".  But we already know that this is not alwasy the case.  She may know a lot about the area, But she didn't claim to know EVERYTHING.  A specialist doesn't mean one is a encyclopedia.  This country will sue for just about anything and that should be more concerning here.  Why didn't he do his own due dilligence.  Some people want to push the blame on everyone but themselves these days.  

Jul 07, 2017 09:23 PM