When Can Realtors Be Held Liable under Pennsylvania Law?
Although the law does not require a buyer or seller to utilize the services of a real estate agent to assist with the purchase or sale of property, most buyers and sellers do work with a realtor. In fact, most buyers and sellers rely heavily on a real estate agent throughout the purchase or sale process. If something goes wrong, such as uncovering hidden defects after the sale, can realtors be held liable under Pennsylvania law? As is often the case with questions relating to liability, there is no easy answer to that question; however, it is possible for a realtor to be held liable under certain conditions.
Like most states, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania requires real estate agents to be licensed by the State Real Estate Commission. As a licensed agent, a realtor is required to abide by the various rules and procedures established by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. If a realtor fails to abide by those rules, it is possible for the realtor to be liable for injuries to a real estate consumer who was harmed as a result.
Realtor liability is very dependent on the unique facts and circumstances of the situation. A common complaint people have, however, against realtors is that the property they purchased is defective and the realtor should pay for the damages caused by the defective property. Pennsylvania law is fairly clear on this issue. The Pennsylvania Home Inspection Law, § 7310—“Non-liability of agent” addresses just this issue, reading as follows:
“An agent of a seller or a buyer shall not be liable for any violation of this chapter unless the agent had actual knowledge of a material defect that was not disclosed to the buyer or of a misrepresentation relating to a material defect.’
The Pennsylvania Association of Realtors also provides insight into situations that could involve vicarious liability of an agent. According to the PAR:
“A licensee is not liable for acts of a consumer unless the consumer is acting at the expressed direction of the licensee, or as a result of a representation by the licensee reasonably relied upon by the consumer. Licensees are further protected by provisions in the law that enable licensees to work with multiple buyers and sellers, rather than devoting all resources to just one buyer or one seller.”
If you have a specific question about realtor liability in Pennsylvania, contact an experienced Pennsylvania real estate law attorney as soon as possible to discuss your unique situation. Contact the real estate law attorneys at Curley & Rothman, LLC by calling 610-834-8819 today to schedule your free consultation.