There was a recent case in Texas, that all agents should consider. It had to do with a seller's misrepresentation of sq. footage. Before you say, what does that have to do with the agent?, let me explain. First of all, if you were being examined on the stand by an opposing attorney, who said something like "Isn't it true that house tend to grow over the years? and "haven't you seen listings where the Seller and Listing agent have exaggerated the size of the house?" If you answer yes, the attorney would then ask, ....then, since you know this, did you point this out to the buyer and advise them to investigate?" I have seen lots of these cases and the agent is always found partially liable
- Many times, agents are advised to put a disclaimer on the bottom of flyers saying that the information provided is an approximation and should not be relied upon. This is interesting but not really effective. What is the buyer supposed to rely on except what they are told by the MLS and flyers
- Listings agents should be inquiring of the seller, where they got the information and then, consider verifying it. The should also look at county recorder records (typically online) and see if they coincide with the seller
- Listing agents should disclose that they have not verified the data
- Buyers agents should disclose to the buyer that many times the seller representaitons are inaccurate. Then ask the buyer what facts about the house are material to the buyer ......and if important, would they like to check them out.
If either agent would do this, I believe that I could successfuly defend them.
Here is more info on the case: http://www.realtor.org/RMODaily.nsf/pages/News2008112104?OpenDocument