Legal issues permeate all aspects of the real estate industry, and the business of brokerages is no exception. The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) is committed to helping brokers negotiate the complex and ever-evolving legal landscape.
Our Legal Affairs Team produces an abundance of resources designed to keep you informed, current and compliant with your legal obligations. You can protect your business and reduce your risk of costly litigation with a proactive approach and an educated, engaged team. Visit NAR.realtor/Legal for information, advice and best practices on dozens of topics, plus hundreds of case summaries, videos and articles.
Here are several common legal challenges that brokers face, along with some of the many resources NAR offers to guide them:
Costly wire fraud scams impacting real estate transactions across the U.S. are on the rise. A hacker sends a fake, but authentic-looking, email to homebuyers at closing with “new” instructions for sending funds. The buyers then unwittingly wire the funds directly into the hacker’s account. According to the FBI, real estate scams have climbed more than 1,000 percent since 2015, and in 2017, $969 million was “diverted or attempted to be diverted” from a real estate transaction to criminally controlled accounts.
NAR has several resources available to help you prevent your buyer clients from becoming part of these statistics, including videos like “How to Avoid Wire Fraud in Transactions” and “Wire Fraud Alert for Buyers”; a downloadable handout, “Protecting Your Business and Your Clients from Cyberfraud”; the downloadable “Data Security and Privacy Toolkit”; and a “Wire Fraud Email Notice Template” to alert customers as part of your standard email signature.
TCPA–Telephone Consumer Protection Act
If you or your agents use texting or cold-calling for marketing purposes, you need to comply with the TCPA. Recently, texting has been targeted by plaintiff’s lawyers in class-action lawsuits alleging that real estate companies are violating the TCPA by sending text messages without the recipient’s consent.
Prior consent is required for most texts and calls, and our team offers guidance on how to legally use these tools. Refer to NAR’s Window to the Law monthly video series for the “TCPA and Texting,” and the brand-new “Do Not Call Compliance” videos, as well as a variety of legal case summaries addressing this issue. Another video, “Hot Topics in Broker Risk Reduction,” released this May, also provides specific tips to reduce your risk of violation.
Sexual harassment is a serious offense that can interfere with productivity, create an intimidating workplace, and result in significant legal liability.
For advice on navigating this issue, watch “Preventing and Addressing Sexual Harassment” and “NAR’s Code of Conduct and Anti-Harassment Policy.” Also, read “Time to Update Your Sexual Harassment Policy” and “Best Practices for Conducting Internal Harassment Investigations.” Plus, take the Sexual Harassment Awareness Quiz to build your understanding.
Resources at NAR.realtor/Legal
And that’s not all. Take advantage of these important broker resources to help you manage risk, safeguard your business, and avoid legal pitfalls:
- The Window to the Law monthly video series covers timely legal topics like social media issues and cybersecurity.
- The Legal Pulse quarterly newsletter analyzes recent trends and emerging issues that impact real estate professionals.
- NAR’s legal team has compiled hundreds of legal case summaries to give brokers perspective on potential legal problems and insights into courts’ findings.
- Plus, you’ll find many additional resources on dozens of legal topics.
A Must-Have for Brokers
“Real Estate Brokerage Essentials®: Navigating Legal Risks and Managing a Successful Brokerage, Fourth Edition” is a comprehensive guide to key legal issues. Order through the REALTOR® Store at Store.realtor/REBE.