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Court Permits CalBRE to Post an Agent’s Convictions, Even Though the Convictions Were Dismissed

In Skulason v. California Bureau of Real Estate, a California Appellate Court recently held that the California Bureau of Real Estate ("CalBRE") had no mandatory duty to remove from its website publicly available information about a real estate licensee's convictions, including convictions that were subsequently, dismissed.  In Skulason, licensee Brenda Skulason, sued CalBRE claiming that it had improperly refused to remove from its public website a document revealing that she had been previously convicted of three (3) misdemeanors.  She asserted that CalBRE was required to remove the document, because the convictions, while valid when entered, had subsequently been dismissed.  According to the agent, even though her prior convictions were not confidential, the disclosure of those convictions on the website imposed a penalty, because the Bureau was “going out of its way to disseminate the information” by “publishing the convictions to potential employers with full knowledge that the convictions were now expunged.”  The trial court agreed with Ms. Skulason and entered judgment in favor of Skulason.  The court of appeals reversed holding that CalBRE had no mandatory duty to remove the information from its website.  As the agent acknowledged, the information was publicly available.  The court found no authority establishing any duty that would restrict CalBRE's ability to post publically available information about a licensee on its website.  Skulason also failed to provide any authority for her position that the Bureau had a duty, even if it disclosed the convictions, to disclose that the convictions had been dismissed.

 

Shannon B. Jones, Partner [email protected]

Question and Answer Regarding Whether Emails Create a Binding Contract

Question:         Can emails create a binding contract?

Answer:           Recently, an appellate court in New York held that emails between a buyer and seller may constitute a formal binding contract.  In Stonehill Capital Management v. Bank of the West 28 NY3D 439, 2016, an appellate court upheld a contract entered into by parties when the seller "agreed" to accepted the option bidders bid in an email that set forth all the material terms of the deal, including the sales price, specific loan to be sold, timing of the closing and manner of payment and wire transfer information.  In that email, the seller had stated that its acceptance "was subject to mutual execution of an acceptable [loan sale agreement]," which was never executed.  Nevertheless, the New York appellate court found that by establishing these elements, the requirement of Statute of Frauds was met.

Currently, there are no cases in California where in a court issued a similar decision.  However, it is entirely likely that under similar circumstances, a California appellate court could find in a similar manner.

Parties are cautioned that when emailing terms of a contract, they do not establish their agreement to those terms.  Nevertheless, as a reminder, real estate agents, unless provided specific authority to do so, may not enter into contracts on behalf of their clients.  This is beyond the scope of the agency relationship.

-Shannon B. Jones, Partner, [email protected]

Buyer Early Occupancy Addendum

The California Real Estate Legal Alliance (“CRELA”) recently posted the attached article entitled, "Buyer Early Occupancy Addendum." CAR has just released a new form entitled "Buyer Early Occupancy Addendum".   Please see the attached article for important information regarding this form.

Short Sale Scam Uncovered in Southern California

The California Real Estate Legal Alliance (“CRELA”) recently posted the attached article entitled, "Short Sale Scam Uncovered in Southern California." It is important that agents be aware of these short sale scams.

C.A.R. Agent Commission Sharing Agreement

The California Real Estate Legal Alliance (“CRELA”) recently posted the attached article entitled, "C.A.R. Agent Commission Sharing Agreement" This is a new C.A.R. form that was released in December 2016. It is for usage by agents who are sharing clients and/or business and it is highly recommended  that this form be used in such circumstances.

Supreme Court Ruling in Horiike v. Coldwell Banker

The California Real Estate Legal Alliance (“CRELA”) recently posted the attached article entitled, "Supreme Court Ruling in Horiike v. Coldwell Banker." This case involves the issue of dual agency and agent disclosure duties.

The Effects of Trends in Real Estate on Legal Issues

There is no doubt that changes in the real estate market affect legal issues pertaining to real estate professionals.  This is evident when reviewing the changes in the real estate market during the last nine (9) years.

 

In 2007, the Great Recession hit the real estate market.  As a result, there were unprecedented increases in foreclosures and short sales due to losses of income and depreciation in the value of homes.  The situation was compounded by loans secured by real estate, for which borrowers did not qualify.  There were also questionable loan products with adjustable rates, creating a situation where borrowers could no longer afford their properties.  As a result, from 2007 to approximately 2011, the real estate industry dealt with short sales and the REO resale market.

 

In approximately 2010, the “flipper market” was born.  Due to low priced short sales and REO resales, investors began purchasing properties.  Those investors renovated and improved those properties and subsequently, placed them on the market.  Read more »

Warning About Internet Copyrighted Pictures

Pictures found on the internet are not necessarily free for agents to use.  Many are copyrighted and if agents use a copyrighted picture, they may be required to pay a fee for its usage.  Many of these pictures are of homes and neighborhoods that agents might wish to use in their marketing of properties, but be careful to verify whether the picture is copyrighted.

The main source of these pictures on the internet is Getty Images or Getty Rights Managed images.  They are not the only source of copyrighted pictures on the internet, but they have a very large database of these copyrighted pictures.  They are vigilant in checking to see who is using their copyrighted photos.  Very often, agents use these photos innocently and without knowledge that they are copyrighted, but that is not an excuse that will allow the agent to escape paying a fee for their usage. Read more »