This comes from a great article I saw last week in the Los Altos Town Crier. Talked about a recent panel of real estate lawyers (now THAT’S a bit of a scary combination of 3 words), discussing numerous issues, chief among them, disclosures.
Here were the highlights:
- In today’s economic times, when much of the market is in turmoil, litigation cases have increased because there are many buyers who want to get out of deals they have made.
- When markets are good, the RE lawyers are busy. When markets are bad, they’re really busy.
- Attribute and disclaim: attribute where you get your information. If you didn’t verify the information, say so, and cite the source of your information.
- Document, document, document: once in litigation, people make up stories, so make sure you document everything, even telephone conversations. Email works best for this and is easy to confirm.
- Disclose, disclose, disclose: you can’t disclose enough, and there is no harm in over-disclosing.
- Agents and their sellers should disclose what they know or what they’ve heard — even rumors. There’s no need to check them out, but they need to disclose what they’ve heard. How far back should old disclosures be disclosed? Their answer: forever.
- Intentional failure to disclose is fraud.
- Keep files as long as possible.
- Finally, if ever in litigation, the panelists advised hiring a good attorney because there are many incompetent attorneys with little knowledge or experience in real estate law. Beware of dumb lawyers.