The Supreme Court this week heard oral arguments in the Hawkes vs. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers case, which questions whether the Army Corps of Engineers' "jurisdictional determinations" (JDs) - an official decision as to whether or not a wetland is regulated by the Corps of Engineers - are "final agency actions" that are subject to judicial review.
NAR re-iterated recommendations regarding the AQB's Real Property Appraiser Qualification Criteria, in particular the need to re-evaluate the need for a Bachelor’s degree for Certified General and Certified Residential classifications. NAR also recommended the AQB revise the use of the term "Trainee" and the three-year residency requirement for Supervisory Appraisers.
Several cases from this past quarter involved claims for racial discrimination based on a lender’s denial of a loan modification. In all three of these cases, the court dismissed the claims because the borrowers failed to allege that they qualified for the loan modification. Two other cases reviewed this year both addressed whether a lender’s request for information regarding Social Security income constituted discrimination, with differing results.
In this edition, we revisit two cases from earlier this year resulting in significant damage awards occasioned by the real estate professional’s breach of fiduciary duty. Several other recent breach of fiduciary duty cases retrieved this quarter, including one in which the broker was found liable, are also summarized below. In an interesting case from New York, the court held that a real estate professional potentially may be held liable for a personal injury incurred during a property showing if the professional created the hazardous condition.
This quarter we review two cases in which a verdict was entered against the licensee and damages were awarded to the plaintiff. In an update to a case examined earlier this year, the appellate court affirmed that a seller or real estate professional does not need to disclose adverse off-site conditions, such as an unruly neighbor. Furthermore, two state supreme courts issued decisions this year (both discussed below) which held that real estate professionals must only disclose adverse conditions known to them and do not owe a duty to inspect a property.
Several cases from last quarter considered a scheme involving payments to reinsurance entities created by lenders for private mortgage insurance. In another decision, the court made clear that RESPA is only concerned with whether or not a party actually performed services in exchange for fees received; RESPA does not examine the reasonableness of the payment for those services.
The U.S. House of Representatives passed S. 2393, the “Foreclosure Relief and Extension for Servicemembers Act of 2015,” which extends the one-year protection from foreclosure in the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) through 2017. The Senate passed S. 2393 in 2015 and the legislation is expected to be signed by the President.