Jury Punishes Houston Realtor For Tactics, Says Dolcefino Communications
19 Nov, 2013, 06:28 ET
HOUSTON, Nov. 19, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Chris Drummond calls it a "big victory for the rights of Houston homebuyers."
A Houston jury voted unanimously Tuesday to punish a well-known inner city real estate firm in a hotly contested breach of contract case. One lawyer in the case says the Texas real estate form signed by hundreds of thousands of Texans with realtors is fundamentally unfair to consumers.
Urban Living, also known as www.Urban Inc. had actually sued Chris Drummond for violating a six month long Buyer Representation Agreement he had signed, even though they did not eventually help him find or negotiate the house he ended up buying. Drummond had claimed Urban Living told him the document he had signed only agreed to give the company commission for houses they actually showed him, and he didn't read the fine print.
"This victory gives consumers a chance to fight back against realtors who don't tell you the truth," said Drummond after the verdict.
A recent investigation by Dolcefino Communications revealed Urban Living had sued or threatened to sue dozens of customers in recent years after learning they had bought from other realtors, even scouring the tax records of former customers. Drummond staged a year and a half legal fight against the company, which was trying to get a $12,000 commission on the house he eventually bought.
Corpus Christi Attorney Andrew Greenwell was awarded more than $150,000 in legal fees in case of appeals.
"They sent a message to Urban Living to mend their ways," Greenwell says.
The buyer agreement form, called a "BRA", is used by realtors across Texas, but Urban Living has been using it to wage legal fights against former customers. Greenwell says the document is "fundamentally unfair to homebuyers when used by unscrupulous realtors."
The investigative communications firm founded by former Houston television investigative reporter Wayne Dolcefino had sent a shopper into Urban Living as part of our research. The agreement our operative was asked to sign a document with a one-year exclusive agreement already filled in without negotiation, even before the company would show us a single house.
The Texas Association of Realtors knew for months about complaints Urban Living was actually demanding payment from a growing list of former customers, but took no steps to change the form to add more consumer warnings.
Drummond says this case has a strong message for homebuyers across the country.
"Don't trust what they tell you. Read it before you sign it."
SOURCE Dolcefino Communications, LLC
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