The unfortunate situation of one man in Florida should stand as a warning to those wanting to sell their homes across the nation: work with a trusted advisor, preferably someone familiar with the law. For residents of the Lone Star state, using a real estate lawyer in Texas could save homeowners from the circumstances Don Rammon finds himself in today, according to this local news article online.
As an individual on a fixed income and recently divorced, Rammon was looking to downsize and sell his home. After signing papers with a prospective buyer, he learned that the contract enabled the “buyer” to demand a reduction in sale price, and when Rammon didn’t agree, to work with an escrow company and put a lien on his home so that he can’t sell it to anyone else for 10 years. A real estate lawyer in Texas like Michael Van is likely to give the same advice to his clients that an attorney from Florida said about Rammon’s misfortune: the practice isn’t illegal.
But it sure feels terrible. Rammon sees the now so-called “investor” as holding his house hostage, and experts say that he’s not alone. “This same thing happens all over. Someone offers to buy your home, you sign the papers, and then find out if you don’t sell it to them, you legally can’t sell it to anyone else.” In an industry governed by a board of realtors in each state, the practice is little more than a legal loophole that allows uninformed sellers to be taken advantage of. Which is why a real estate lawyer in Texas like Van is so essential to protecting the transaction.
Now, Rammon may have to file a lawsuit as his last recourse against his “prospective buyer” turned “investor.” And a lawsuit can be much more costly in terms of legal representation than simply hiring a real estate lawyer in Texas to look over and review the contracts—before signing anything. The person who hoodwinked Rammon admitted to having taken a weekend “real estate course that promises quick easy money.” But the “investor” sees it not as a scam but as a legitimate investment.
However, it rides the line of ethical practice for real estate agents and escrow companies, teetering on the edge of what’s considered okay. It would be up to each state’s individual board of realtors to investigate situations like Rammon’s individually and determine disciplinary action for the parties involved, but in Rammon’s case, the individual wasn’t an agent, so would not be able to face reprimand from the governing board.
With a growing aging population in Texas, especially in central Texas, more and more individuals will likely see themselves in similar financial situations as Rammon: owning property, fixed income, hoping to downsize or liquidate. Van and other lawyers in Texas urge such individuals to make use of licensed real estate agents or attorneys when making such transactions. Caution on the front end of a sale, even a few extra dollars for representation by someone in the industry, can save a lot of trouble on the tail end.