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The Verdict Is In: Realtors Release Latest Legal Liability Survey

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RISMEDIA, June 18, 2007-The National Association of Realtors® has just released the results of the most comprehensive study to date of legal issues and trends in the real estate industry.

The historical data in the 2007 NAR Legal Scan is based on research of court documents, states, regulations and jury verdict reports, involving 655 court cases and 112 statutes and regulations. The study contains an appendix listing each case, statute and regulation with full legal citation by issue and jurisdiction.

“This latest legal scan is our crystal ball to a better understanding of key legal issues and trends affecting the real estate marketplace, and gives a wealth of information on agent and broker liability,” said NAR’s General Counsel Laurie Janik. “The study covers issues including agency, fair housing and disclosure laws, and will help members better understand and plan for legal pitfalls and compliance requirements they may encounter.”

The complete study has been published electronically on NAR’s member Web site and is available at no charge to NAR members.

The survey was prepared for NAR’s legal department with assistance from Legal Research Center Inc. of Minneapolis, a leading legal research provider. The newly updated study, which will help Realtors® reduce legal costs, is the sixth in a series dating back to 1996, and tracks historical data regarding 86 legal liability issues faced by real estate professionals.

“This updated survey allows members to quickly check and print out for their attorneys the relevant cases or legislative actions that offer guidance regarding new cases and will help members save time and money on legal costs,” Janik said.

Some key findings of the survey include the following:

- Agency issues are among the most common types of real estate legal dispute.
- Another major area of disputes is that of property condition disclosure, especially mold and structural defects.
- Technology issues are growing in importance, especially with respect to privacy, spam and other forms of electronic solicitation.
- Subject areas where future training will be vital include agency, disclosure, technology, antitrust, and real estate settlement procedures.

In addition to the basic survey, NAR, in partnership with its affiliated Institute for Real Estate Management, has also published a survey of legal issues specific to real estate management. The principal areas of concern in the property management area include debt collection, accident claims, liability for tenants’ property conditions and conditions of common areas, and events occurring on managed properties. The 2007 IREM Scan is also available online.

Nearly 60% of cases involved premises liability, including falls and other injuries.

In 70% of cases with liability, real estate property managers were held not liable; 75% of these favorable outcomes did not require a trial.

Other important liability issues include new requirements for carbon monoxide detection and window guards, as well as issues of lead, mold and problems associated with presence of laboratories capable of producing methamphetamine.

Increased emphasis will be placed on fair housing aspects of property management in the future.

IREM represents 18,000 real estate management professionals who collectively manage property valued at more than $848 billion.

For more information, visit www.Realtor.org.

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