Real Estate Agents and Real Estate Brokers and the Consumer Fraud Act in New Jersey: Can I sue my real estate broker or real estate agent?
The answer is yes.
The Consumer Fraud Act applies to real estate agents in their capacity as an agent for the seller of the property. In essence, they are professional sellers and are required to assure that they make accurate disclosures pertaining to any property they sell. The courts recently demonstrated that when a realtor makes a mistake as to the location of the property they can be sued under the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act. In Vagias v. Woodmont Properties, 384 N.J.Super. 129, 136 (App.Div 2006) the Appellate division held that a realtor's misrepresentation is a serious matter and violates the Act. N.J.S.A. 56:8-2.
It is not really disputed that the application of the Consumer Fraud Act applies to the sale and/or lease of real estate. In this regard, it has been determined that the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act applies to realtors in their role as agents, brokers or transactional participants under the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act. Quite simply, the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act would apply to realtors as those selling vehicles, selling products, selling furniture, selling service or those engaged in the sale of goods and services in the stream of commerce. The New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act was amended specifically to include the sale of real estate within its powers. Obviously, the purchase of a home is the most significant transaction that individuals might undertake in their entire lives. It is clear why the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act is needed to apply to realtors because in such a significant transaction, it is absolutely necessary that the entirety of the communications, representations and conduct is free from the restricted contents of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act. Realtors have duties to their clients, the other realtors and other persons.
Obviously, one would expect that realtors would be honest in their representations as to the nature and extent of the property one is purchasing. However, as in all businesses, there are a few realtors who quite simply should not be relied upon. It is these circumstances where the “bad apple” is discovered that there’s a need for the remedies under the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act. The remedies under the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act are very powerful and apply to realtors as well as the sellers of real estate. There are triple damages, attorney’s fees, costs and the availability of injunctive relief if needed under the circumstances of the case, whether it be realtors or others selling real estate. The existence of the application of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act to realtors and real estate transactions does not mean that one should abandon common sense. Although real estate agents and brokers are professionals, trained in the regulatory requirements under New Jersey law, there should be some type of minimal questioning by those relying upon these statements. The realtors also have a code of ethics that they must fulfill when they represent a buyer or seller and the failure to do so can result in both dissatisfied customers and lawsuit. The FTC also has regulations.
Claims against realtors under the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act are nothing new. Some of the very old and very trendsetting cases under the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act involve lawsuits against realtors. It is not disputed that the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act applies to realtors. However, realtors have numerous defenses under the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act with regard to the tripling of damages which many businesses were entities do not have. If a seller’s disclosure is completed this is a defense to a selling realtor. This is only defense in the context of triple damages. However, the same rules and procedures as well as same deceptive business practices are prohibited under the state law rules and under the administrative code as it applies to realtors. Realtors cannot lie about the nature and extent and quality of the property.
Realtors cannot make material omissions of fact with regard to the nature and extent and quality of the property. Realtors must have a duty of loyalty to their clients and must make full disclosure with regard to their duties to their client and the adversaries. Similar to attorneys realtors have a code of ethics upon which they must rely with regard to each and every transaction and each and every client. So while a lawsuit against a realtor has numerous source of ethical obligations usually the paperwork they complete is relatively solid with regard to a seller’s disclosure in my experience usually do make complete disclosures. However, individuals have consulted me and I have determined that the realtors make sure as omissions of material fact with regard to various important issues on the sale of the home. The specific facts can vary by transaction however, again, ascertainable loss is associated with deceptive practices are recoverable against realtors as with any other deceptive business.
The New Jersey consumer laws apply to real estate brokers and real estate agents. There are some restrictions as to which claims can and cannot be brought there can be restrictions on the type of claims. However, these are but just one of the types of claims that you can bring against your real estate agent or your real estate broker.
The Consumer Fraud Act applies to real estate brokers and real estate agents and eight good consumer attorney or a good consumer lawyer can litigate a claim assuming there is a claim.
- Did your real estate agent or did you real estate broker make a false affirmative statement of fact?
- Did you real estate agent or did your real estate broker omitted material fact?
- Did you real estate agent or did you real estate broker tell you something that was deceptive, false or otherwise had the capacity to mislead you?
- Did your real estate agent or did you real estate broker breached the contract?
These role questions that you must present to a consumer lawyer consumer attorney pertaining to real estate agents were real estate brokers and the consumer laws in the state of New Jersey. The consumers would have numerous claims and numerous rights against these professions assuming they satisfied the requirements set forth under New Jersey law. If you have a question you should call a consumer lawyer or consumer attorney pertaining to real estate or real estate broker fraud.
The following might be several statements that the real estate agents made to on behalf of the seller of the house, counseling or condominium.
- The house was tested for mold and came up negative
- There was no more has there ever been any water leaking
- There were never any improvements made on the home
- There is no oil tank
- There is no problem with the home at all
- The roof was never replaced
- The home never had any mold
- The home never had any water infiltration
- The home was never damaged
- The home is in a certain school district, when it turns out is not was not the district
- Certain home improvements have been made were not made
- You can do any additions or alterations to the home without any problem
- The pool was inspected shortly before the sale of the home
- The pool never had any problems
These are examples of material facts upon which a buyer of real estate might rely. You have the right to rely upon these affirmative statements from a real estate agent or broker. You should attempt to confirm that these are accurate, but the law does not require you make these confirmations. You can rely upon the statements of a licensed professional selling property.
If these material statements upon which you have relied turned out to be or end up being false or untrue you might have a claim presume you can prove an ascertainable loss.