Ignore the law at your own peril

Standardized forms can help brokers, agents avoid pitfalls

SAN FRANCISCO — Realtors who are always seeking a technological edge over their competitors shouldn’t neglect another area where they can gain a competitive advantage: the law.

For some agents, willful ignorance of legal issues creates pitfalls that can lead to substantial liabilities. For others, a little legal knowledge can make them dangerous, leading them to violate the fundamental rule of never offering clients legal advice.

As senior legal counsel for the California Association of Realtors, Stella Ling tends to classify Realtors into three groups — two of which, she says, are bound to get themselves into trouble: those who don’t want to know anything about the law, and those who seem to think they know enough to practice law.