Real estate customers in Michigan must be able to trust their real estate brokers. Moving land and property between parties is a large undertaking that sometimes requires a great deal of money, complex contracts and any number of fees. According to a federal lawsuit, one real estate team outside of the state is accused of pocketing funds from real estate transaction.

The team is reportedly one of the top teams in the country, and experts say the real estate transaction dispute and litigation should not be ignored by others. It provides an important lesson about the need for everyone involved in a transaction to understand the myriad relationships between titling agencies, brokers, insurance companies, buyers and sellers.

According to the suit, the team in question reportedly received kickbacks totaling $1.3 million from a title insurance company. The kickbacks were allegedly received from 2013 through 2014 and were not disclosed to the buyers. According to the lawsuit, the defendants allegedly went to a number of lengths to disguise the payments.

The lawsuit alleges that the title company paid the kickbacks so the real estate team would refer business to it. The lawsuit is seeking millions in possible damages and $11.2 million for compensatory damage.

Individuals involved in real estate transactions should understand where and how money is changing hands. They should also be able to trust that a recommendations from a broker or other persons is done in good faith. Buyers and sellers have the right in many cases to choose service providers they want. Individuals who believe they are caught in a real estate transaction that is not above board or feel that a real estate contract was not honored in good faith may have legal recompense against the other party.

Source: The Columbus Dispatch, “Lawsuit a red flag over financial relationships in real-estate industry” Kenneth R. Harney, Aug. 17, 2014