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


Listing Broker Found Liable for Altering Commission

An interesting case decision was just reported on – A listing broker failed to honor the co-broke commission rate identified in the Executive Right to Sale agreement, which ended up netting the listing side more money and a subsequent finding of fraud.  Here is the summary: Texas court rules that listing broker breached his
MAR Legal Hotline

Proper Permits?

Q:    My seller-client is unsure if proper permits were obtained for finishing his basement. What should I advise my seller, and what are my disclosure requirements? A. The State Building Code requires a building permit for “construction, reconstruction, alteration, repair, demolition, removal or change in use or occupancy of buildings and structures.” Local bylaws or
MAR Legal Hotline

Notes From the Legal Hotline: Lead Paint

So now everyone is uploading the lead paint form, it’s become apparent that not everyone is filling out the form correctly.  Yikes!  Fines for failure to complete this form correctly can be severe, so I know you want to do the right thing.The seller must initial OR check mark the correct boxes and circle the

Smart Home Risks?

Quick video: NAR Associate Counsel Jessica Edgerton shares risk management tips for buyers purchasing a home featuring devices connected to the internet, such as the heating system or security cameras. More information on Smart Home Technology

To ‘Escalation Clause’ or Not to ‘Escalation Clause’

When there is a hot sellers’ market, certain buyers have sought methods to obtain an advantage over competing buyers. One factor that often influences a seller to accept an offer is the price. To make the offer more attractive than competitors, buyers in some situations add an “escalation clause” or “escalation addendum” to their offer
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