Q: How can real estate agents be a resource for buyers on tax issues, such as the tax benefits of buying vs. renting? A: Unless a real estate broker or agent is a bona fide tax professional -- for example, has an MBA or other specialized training in taxation -- he or she should not give clients detailed tax advice. As a real estate professional, you are licensed to help your clients buy real estate -- not serve as their professional tax adviser. If you give tax advice and it turns out to be wrong, it could cost the client a bundle of money, and leave you with a lawsuit for malpractice. If a client does ask you for tax advice, and you give it, a good practice is to have the client sign a statement providing that he or she has not relied on your advice and that the transaction is contingent on the approval of the client's tax or legal counsel. That said, the tax benefits of real estate ownership are something every buyer should understand. You need to understand them as we...
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