Legal Hotline: How should a REALTOR respond when a client asks a legal question?
February 6, 2024 Legal Updates MAR Legal Hotline
Question: How should a REALTOR® respond when a client asks a legal question?
Answer: Given the nature of the real estate profession, it is not uncommon for REALTORS® to receive questions from clients seeking what amounts to legal advice. REALTORS® must walk a fine line between representing their clients’ interests without engaging in the unauthorized practice of law. REALTORS® may not provide legal advice or draft legal documents or clauses.
REALTORS® may assist clients with completing standard form contracts, such as those contained within the MAR Forms Library; however, if the need arises to include/make modifications to a standard form or to included additional language or clauses to a standard form, legal counsel should be engaged.
The unauthorized practice of law is not only a violation of Massachusetts law but is also expressly prohibited in the REALTOR® Code of Ethics. Article 13 of the Code goes so far as to place an affirmative obligation on a REALTOR® to recommend that legal counsel be obtained when the interests of a party to the transaction requires it. While clients may at time be resistant to hiring an attorney for assistance, doing so is in the best interests of the client and the REALTOR®. As with any recommendation or advice given to a client, it should be put in writing.
Written by: Justin Davidson, General Counsel; Catherine Taylor, Associate Counsel; Kate Berard, Associate Counsel; and Jonathan Schreiber, Legislative & Regulatory Counsel.
Services provided through the Massachusetts Association of REALTORS® is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute legal advice, nor does it establish an attorney-client relationship. The Massachusetts Association of REALTORS®, by providing this service, assumes no actual or implied responsibility for any improper use of responses to questions through this service. The Massachusetts Association of REALTORS® will not be legally responsible for any potential misrepresentations or errors made by providing this service. For more information regarding these topics authorized callers should contact the MAR legal hotline at 800-370-5342 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.