Escrow Agent Responsibilities: Robot or Rogue?

Real estate transactions occur all the time whether in the residential or commercial context.  Notwithstanding a familial transfer, the arms-length transaction includes a buyer, a seller, and sometimes a bank or private money-lender who finances the deal.  In some of those situations, there is also an escrow agent whose role is simply identified in the contract to be the “holder of the funds” while certain conditions are met post-contract.  The escrow agent often keeps a fee for the services rendered, and becomes a mechanism for …

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Title Insurer off the Hook for Closing Agent Misconduct

The closing of a home loan often involves multiple parties, and even a sophisticated buyer can be confused as to who represents whom. The individuals present can include representatives from the bank, real estate agents, title insurance agents, etc.  However, each person in the room has a specifically defined role, and it is important for all parties to be aware of what these roles are.

In a recent Pennsylvania case involving the misappropriation of loan funds, the Superior Court ruled that the role of a …

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What E&O Means to the Real Estate Professional

Attorney or accounting malpractice makes the headlines. Certainly we’ve all heard of high profile medical malpractice cases. But the real estate professional community faces its own challenges. Real estate professionals face significant exposure to claims that may fall under E&O coverage. In particular, E&O coverage is useful when a buyer brings suit against an agent/broker for failure to disclose a property defect, for misleading the buyer about the purchase, or for breach of contract. Most commonly, E&O policies are useful for the real estate professional …

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Open House = Open to Liability? Broker Liability to Open House Attendees

Open houses and showings are a critical part of any real estate broker’s job. More often than not, prospective buyers want to look at the property before committing. But what happens when a prospective buyer is injured while touring a property? Does a listing agreement impose a duty upon a real estate agent to ensure a property is safe before showing it? Is a listing agent a legitimate target of an injured open house guest? Nope, according to a recent decision out of Illinois. But …

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Real Estate Transactions Pose the Greatest Risk of Attorney Malpractice

According to a recent study, real estate transactions pose the most risk to attorneys of a malpractice claim.  In its annual survey, the American Bar Association reported a higher percentage of professional liability claims stemming from real estate dealings than any other area.  Over the past several years, plaintiff personal injury claims topped the list, but to the joy of the plaintiff’s bar and the chagrin of real estate professionals, that trend is apparently changing.

The top three types of activity leading to the majority …

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Up-tick in Housing Market Means Increased Risk

The good news is that April typically marks the busy season for home sales and the housing market continues to gather strength.  The bad news is that increased activity may mean additional professional liability risks face architects and engineers, designers, agents, inspectors and all real estate professionals. With all signs suggesting that the housing market is picking up momentum, and that trend is expected to continue, real estate professionals will find themselves with more work but they must proceed with caution.

According to the National

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