My father hired an attorney to settle a contract dispute, manage an apartment building, and then sell the building. Right before settling the case, the attorney wrote an offer to purchase the building herself. She included in the addendum in the purchase contract that she was the listing agent/attorney for my father and my father should consult with another attorney or real estate broker about the offer. My father refused to sign it because it was well below the list price of the building. To justify the price, the attorney said the building was in far worse condition than expected with vacancies, evictions, drug users, etc. When the attorney/broker asked to put the property on the market about a month later after leasing the property and getting it fixed up, my father refused. He stated he didn’t want her to sell the building and wanted to use someone else. The attorney said that’s a breach of contract and we either had to let her sell it or pay a full commission (in accordance with the stated language on the CAR agreement which was still valid at the time). What defenses does my father have? What disclosures does the attorney need to provide when making an offer? Does the phrase she used above suffice? Is this a breach of the attorney’s fiduciary duty?
2 Answers from Attorneys
An attorney would have to review the entire matter. There are issues that need to be addressed that are not even set forth in the facts in your post. I suggest consulting in person with a knowledgeable real estate attorney near you.
Your father has a host of causes of action against his former attorney which may include fraud-entitling your father to not only compensatory, but also punitive damages. It is obvious there is a conflict of interest here when attorney is acting as both sellers agent and buyer. I would be happy to meet with you and your father in discussing his recourses.