Being a realtor can be an emotionally and financially rewarding experience — but it also comes with some drawbacks. In particular, you can end up being sued by a homeowner or buyer who is unhappy about some hidden defect in the property or some part of a deal that soured. Lawsuits and grievances can disrupt your peace of mind, hurt your career and destroy your professional reputation, so it’s always smart to avoid them whenever possible.

How can you avoid real estate lawsuits? Try these suggestions:

  1. Avoid the common pitfalls: The number one thing that can get you into trouble is a failure to disclose a known defect. Insist on scrupulous honesty from your sellers and don’t ever play fast and loose and with the truth just to make a quick sale.
  2. Communicate well (and keep records): You should follow up on your verbal communications with your client with an email, confirming what was said. Keep all of your communications on file in case you’re ever accused of hiding information.
  3. Don’t take on your client’s job: Buyers and sellers alike can get overwhelmed during a real estate deal, so they sometimes look to the realtor for advice. Give your assessment of the situation, talk about the pros and cons of each option, but ultimately lay the decision-making process back at your client’s feet.
  4. Avoid problematic clients: You will, no doubt, encounter clients who are unethical, discriminatory or just plain difficult. If you sense that someone could be hard to handle and potentially litigious, walk away. There are plenty of other clients out there.
  5. Don’t engage in unnecessary disputes. Fee disputes are another common issue with clients. You may be in the right, but it may not be worth the trouble to pursue it if a client contests your fee. It may be better to write it off and walk away.

Real estate lawsuits can be complicated, so if you find yourself embroiled in one, don’t hesitate to seek appropriate legal counsel as soon as possible.