What kind of cases or actions has the Texas REALTORS® Legal Fund been used for in the past?

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Every six months, the Texas REALTORS® Legal Review Committee reviews applications and requests for funding from the Legal Fund from Texas REALTORS® and litigants involving cases that significantly affect the entire real estate industry. A brief summary of three recent cases is noted below. Case 1: A REALTOR® was sued by a buyer who alleged the agent failed to properly advise him that the property lay near an environmentally contaminated site. At the time of the contract, the agent provided the buyer with a detailed written statement (signed by the buyer) about the toxic dangers and health hazards posed to residents of the subdivision, since it was known that a nearby site was environmentally contaminated. The REALTOR®’s errors-and-omissions insurance carrier refused coverage on the basis that the claim involved bodily injury that was excepted from the policy. The buyers originally alleged damages in excess of $30 million. The legal fund assisted the defendant in resolving the case favorably. Case 2: The association filed an amicus brief in an Austin case in which a savings and loan association filed suit against the attorney general of Texas, arguing that federal regulations preempted the Texas Constitution regarding its homestead protection. The Austin Federal District Court disregarded the savings and loan’s claims and upheld the Texas Constitution. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed and held that the Texas Constitution had been superseded. The case was ultimately moot as a result of Congressional action initiated by Rep. Gonzales of San Antonio that amended the Home Owner Loan Act so that it was clear that Congress did not intend to supersede the Texas Constitution. Through the Legal Fund, the Texas REALTORS® was able to monitor and participate in the action. Case 3: A REALTOR® was sued by a buyer alleging that the agent did not disclose that the property lay in a flood-prone area or that the property had previously flooded. The buyer purchased the property under an assumption and refinanced the lien six months after closing. At the time of the purchase, flood maps for the area showed the property not to lie in a flood hazard area. About a month after closing, the flood maps were revised and included the property in a flood hazard area. At the time of the refinance a survey incorrectly stated that the property did not lie in a flood hazard area. Three years after the purchase, the property flooded and the buyers then learned that the property had previously flooded. The case proceeded to a jury which found for the defendant REALTOR®. The Legal Fund was able to assist the REALTOR® in defeating the unfounded claim.

Source: TAR

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