Where To Get Legal Advice for Real Estate in Sacramento
Nary a day goes by when a client doesn’t ask me a legal question about real estate in Sacramento. They do not realize that I can get into a boatload of hot water and trouble up the ying-yang if I answer those kinds of questions and provide legal advice for real estate. Even when I say: hey, a Sacramento real estate agent is not allowed to give legal advice; I could lose my real estate license for practicing law, they will twist the question around and insist it’s not a legal question because they just want to know how other people have handled a similar legal technicality — which still makes it a legal question, regardless of whether they agree with my statement.
I say if you want to get conflicting opinions, ask a C.A.R. legal hotline lawyer. Those guys are paid, I suspect, on a flat-fee basis, and probably a minuscule flat-fee at that, to answer the phone which, because of that minuscule fee, I imagine, they often do not answer the phone. But one of them will eventually call back an agent to dispense real estate legal advice. In the few times that I have personally called a C.A.R. lawyer, the advice I received reminded me of an old Johnny Carson show, when he used to go on the street to ask questions of silly people in those Man on the Street interviews. In my experience, some of these lawyers seem to hold a weak grasp on real estate law, don’t understand how MLS works and tend to talk off the top of their heads, which I can get from my husband with a missing caveat: my husband will apply logic.
But one typically gets what one pays for in this world. C.A.R. legal hotline lawyers are free to dispense real estate legal advice to agents; they don’t submit written legal opinions. They simply provide free legal advice to agents in California. These free lawyers also probably feel like they aren’t paid enough to actually practice law but they’ll talk to an agent like we interrupted them while they were reading a comic book on the John. For all I do know, they take their cellphones with them into the stall before they accidentally flip them into the toilet. I bet cellphone providers sell a lot of insurance plans to free legal hotline lawyers. Heaven knows, too, that all-important phone call might come through from Domino’s Pizza. Gotta have your phone.
You might think I am unduly harsh on these professionals, but the advice they have dispensed to many agents has been completely wrong on so many levels that it has colored my opinion of them. It’s also possible that agents misunderstood or misconstrued. The point is that the C.A.R. lawyers are not held liable for poor advice because they’re not paid enough to be liable for the advice. And you know what that kind of advice is called? Lip service.
If I really need legal advice I can rely upon, I go to my company lawyers who are paid beaucoup bucks to protect the brokerage and, by extension in most instances, its agents. I respect these people and they know real estate law. If a client needs legal advice for real estate, I have a list of respected real estate lawyers in Sacramento whom they can call. I often point clients to California Civil Code, which explains many of the secrets in California real estate, but nothing can substitute for the advice of a lawyer — a real estate lawyer who provides professional assistance based on her own experience, associate practice, court case and real estate law. Don’t ask a Sacramento real estate agent.
And don’t blame C.A.R. either because our agent dues don’t begin to cover a legal hotline. C.A.R. is just a trade association.