by K. Michelle Lind, Esq., AAR Chief Executive Officer

A broker must communicate a great deal of information to the client and has a duty to exercise reasonable care in obtaining and communicating that information. Therefore, ensure that any information provided to the client is objective and accurate.

Resist any temptation to provide advice that is outside the area of expertise for a real estate licensee. Recommend other professionals when necessary to perform inspections and investigations or to provide legal and tax advice.

Always assist the client in verifying information when you have reason to question the accuracy of the information being provided and when the client has questioned the accuracy of the information.

Of course, communication includes disclosures. A broker is obligated to disclose all known material defects existing in the property. If you have to ask whether a fact must be disclosed, the answer is probably “yes.”

Many claims and disputes arise from anger and frustration related to lack of communication. An unreturned phone call or unanswered question can cause a client to become angry and suspect that the broker is not being forthright. Therefore, return phone calls as soon as possible and always follow up on a client’s questions and concerns.

Communicate in person or over the telephone when possible. Utilize email, text and other written communication only to confirm or to follow-up on conversations.

Finally, documentation plays a key role in defense of a claim or lawsuit. Always take the time to follow up important conversations in writing and keep copies to document your disclosures, recommendations and advice.

Disclosure: This article is of a general nature and reflects only the opinion of the author at the time it was drafted. It is not intended as definitive legal advice, and you should not act upon it without seeking independent legal counsel.

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