Legal Summaries

MAR Legal Hotline

Oh, how many times have we tried to clone our state legal department? Real Estate law gurus Michael McDonagh, General Counsel of the Massachusetts Association of REALTORS®, and his ever supportive Associate Counsel Ashley Stolba keep us out of trouble on a daily basis!

Now, both will share their information with you each month; provide you with a highlight of the calls they field on the legal hotline; and keep us posted with changing Massachusetts law. Also included here are national notes from NAR’s legal department concerning federal cases that are of interest to Massachusetts brokers and salespersons.

Members may access the Legal Hotline by calling 800-370-LEGAL (5342), sending an e-mail, or faxing questions to the Legal Department at 781-890-4919

The MAR Legal Hotline offers authorized callers access to staff attorneys who can assist members with questions about current state and federal laws and regulations, permissible business practices, and important court rulings affecting real estate practitioners.  To take advantage of the Legal Hotline service, a member’s designated broker must first complete and sign an Authorization Form and return to the MAR Legal Department.  Once approved as an authorized caller, MAR members may access the Hotline. The hours of operation are Monday-Friday, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Legal Summaries by Topic

Advertising Anti-Trust Chapter 93A Contract Contingencies
Email Contracts  Escrow Issues  Estate Properties Fair Housing
 Gifts and Referrals Home Inspector Law  Independent Contractors Multiple Offers
 Offers  Procuring Cause  Property Liability  Referral Fees
 Rentals/Seasonal  Rentals/Tenants  RESPA Issues  Right to Farm
 Security Deposits  Separate Water Metering  Sex Offender Registry  Sexual Harassment
 Short Sale & Foreclosure  Stigmatized Property


Disclosure of Defects After Termination

Interesting question received by the legal hotline…. “I listed a house that had a material defect. The seller did not want to disclose that fact to potential buyers and fired me. They have now relisted the property with another agent and the listing does not disclose the defect – what are my obligations?” A:       

Legal Hotline Question

Q.  I want to have someone from my office cover an open house for me – is that allowed? A. Yes, you can have another person from your office cover your open house, as long as you obtain your client’s permission ahead of time. It is critical to have a conversation with your seller prior

November Notes from the MAR Legal Hotline

Justin Davidson, MAR General Counsel and Catherine Taylor, MAR Associate Counsel have prepared notes from calls they’ve taken through the legal hotline.  Below are two questions they’ve received and answered: Q.  I listed a house that had a material defect.  The seller did not want to disclose that fact to potential buyers and fired me. 

Dual Agency Class Action Lawsuit

A home buyer in White Plains, N.Y., has filed a class-action lawsuit against real estate brokerage Houlihan Lawrence, accusing the firm of using dual agency as a tactic to maximize its profits and dominate the local market. Dual agency is when both the buyer and seller of a transaction are represented by the same brokerage.

Quick Question Learning: Builder Warranty

It is not uncommon for new construction to come with a home warranty from the builder. A common misconception with these warranties is that anything that goes wrong with the house will be covered by such a warranty. Unfortunately, that is not typically the case. Most warranties offered on new construction will cover only specific

Take care when advertising online

Fair housing principles apply on-line exactly as in real life!  Earlier this week, we published on our Facebook page (if you’re not following us, you should!) that HUD filed a complaint about discriminatory practices with the way Facebook allowed advertisers to target (or withhold ads) from users based on protected classes.  Facebook allowed advertisers to, among

Nanny Cam – Secret Recordings in Homes

The legal hotline was recently asked if a listing agent knows that a seller has a surveillance system installed in their home – do they have to tell potential buyers that they are being recorded? YES!  It is a crime in Massachusetts to secretly hear or record another individual without their knowledge and consent pursuant
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