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All articles and other materials contained on this website are provided as a courtesy. Readers should not rely on anything contained on this website without consulting an attorney to verify the impact of such information as it relates to that reader. Among other things, laws, regulations, standards of care and other circumstances frequently change. By reviewing these communications, an attorney-client relationship has not been established with the reader. In order to establish that relationship, a retainer agreement must be executed with CRELA or Shannon B. Jones Law Group or Spile, Leff & Goor, LLP

Sharp Offers

We have noticed an increase in “sharp offers.”  A sharp offer is an offer which provides that a buyer will pay a certain amount over the next highest offer.  For example, a buyer prepares an offer which states, “Buyer will pay $1,000 over the next highest offer.”  We have concerns about claims arising out of sharp offers.  We have prepared a risk management tip and posted it to the CRELA website.  Please visit our website to review the article.

Court Orders Restitution Based on the Difference Between the Amount Loaned to the Defendant and the Amounts the Banks Received After Selling the Houses

In Robers v. United States, the defendant, Robers, was convicted of the federal crime of submitting fraudulent mortgage loan applications to two banks.  The court ordered him to pay restitution in the amount, which constituted the difference between the amount that he borrowed and the amounts the banks received after selling the properties that served as collateral for the loans.  Robers appealed the decision claiming that the restitution should be based on the value of the homes as of the date that the banks took title because they were part of the property return.  The United States Supreme Court upheld the decision and the restitution.  See Robers v. United States.

Courts are Permitting Lawsuits Against Website Operators for Posting Inaccurate Information

We previously reported a rise in claims relating to postings on social media and to websites.  That trend continues in that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals recently permitted a plaintiff to sue an operator of a website for violations of a Fair Credit Reporting Act because the operator reported allegedly false information about the plaintiff.  A complete description of the case has been posted to our website.  However, agents and brokers should be cautious with the information that they are posting to websites.

Risks Associated with the Sale of Investor Properties

We have noticed a significant increase in claims arising out of investor sales. Agents are cautioned to ensure that appropriate investigation is undertaken in these sales. For a complete discussion, we have posted an article on the CRELA website for the members.

AMERICANS LOVE REAL ESTATE

Did you know that Americans still view owning a home as the best investment?  According to a recent Gallup Poll, 30 percent of all Americans saw real estate as the top long-term investment.  This statistic is up from a year ago, when only 25 percent of Americans felt that real estate was the best long-term investment.

Recent Survey Shows A Majority of Landlords and Tenants Have An Inadequate and Incomplete Understanding of Basic Rental Laws

Zillow recently reported that a majority of landlords and tenants show a fundamental misunderstanding of basic landlord-tenant laws. For example, 85% of tenants and 76% of landlords are unaware of the laws pertaining to security deposits and credit checks. 77% of tenants and 69% of landlords lack understanding of privacy and access rights. 62% of tenants and 50% fail to understand the laws on early lease termination.

Many agents are now becoming involved in rental properties by virtue of the increase in rentals in the marketplace. Agents are encouraged to stay out of disputes between landlords and tenants. If such a dispute arises, agents are encouraged to refer their clients to attorneys knowledgeable in rental laws.

California Bureau of Real Estate New Publication

The California Bureau of Real Estate (“CalBRE”) recently released two (2) new publications including a consumer’s guide on buying in a California residential subdivision and a guide for real estate professionals pertaining to residential subdivisions. Both can be downloaded at no cost from CalBRE’s website.

Court Holds a Party Liable for an Incorrect Post to Yelp

In Bently Reserve L.P. v. Papaliolios, a California appellate court held a party liable for misstatements posted on “Yelp.” In Bently Reserve, the defendant was a tenant in a San Francisco apartment building. He moved out and then posted criticisms of his landlord on Yelp. He accused the landlord of being a “sociopathic narcissist” and contributing to the death of three tenants. He called the landlord “horrific and shameful.” Once the comments were posted to Yelp, the landlord complained and Yelp removed the comments. The tenant would then re-post them. The cycle repeated itself several times. Eventually, the landlord, his wife and his limited partnership sued the tenant for libel. The tenant filed a motion to strike claiming that the lawsuit was aimed at suppressing his right to speak in an open forum about an issue of public concern. The plaintiffs opposed the motion and showed that the statements made by the former tenant on Yelp were false. In fact, they proved that the tenants they accused of killing were alive. The court denied the motion to strike finding that the plaintiffs had carried their burden of showing that they had viable defenses. The tenant appealed and the appellate court affirmed. The appellate court noted that the reviews were “not mere opinion,” but were false statements. The court noted that, “Internet commentary does not ipso facto get a free pass under defamation law.”

In the real estate industry, we use social media, including Yelp frequently. It is important that we are cautious in ensuring that we make truthful statements to avoid liability.

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