How real estate agents get sued

A real estate purchase can be both a significant emotional and financial investment for a lot of people -- which means that a lot of people respond to problems with a purchase-gone-bad by filing lawsuits. Sometimes, those lawsuits are aimed at real estate agents.

So, if you're a real estate agent, how do you minimize the risk to your good professional name? Here are some tips for dealing with both buyers and sellers:

  • Be very clear about any problems. You naturally want to sell yourself to your client, but don't oversell what your client can expect. Being honest about potential problems your client faces, buying or selling, can help your client maintain reasonable expectations.

  • Don't make the hard calls for your client. When your client has a decision to make, your job is to give your advice -- based on your training and experience -- and explain the options as clearly as possible. Don't allow your client to force the decision-making process on you as well. Tell your client that the ultimate decision is up to them.

  • Know when to withdraw. Some clients won't take "no" for an answer. They may want you to engage in something unethical or dishonest. It isn't worth your license or a lawsuit to go along with the plan. If your client won't take the high road, end your working relationship and move on.

  • Pass on the "difficult" client. Regardless of the size of your potential commission, clients who have already been problematic for other realtors are likely to be problematic for you.

No matter how communicative or forthright you are with your clients, the reality is that real estate lawsuits are a hazard of your profession. You can minimize the issue by following these rules, but you may ultimately need to work with an experienced litigator when you have problems.