Small Claims Court Manual Is Helpful To Real Estate Agents

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Small Claims Court Manual Is Helpful To Real Estate Agents

Written By: Bob Hunt

Over the course of a career, a real estate broker or agent may find himself in small claims court in connection with a dispute arising out of a real estate transaction. He may be there as a defendant, as a witness, or even as a plaintiff. Sometimes, he may be involved just in an attempt to help a client, even if he doesnt have a role as a witness.

While small claims court may lack some of the trappings and formalities of higher venues, it can be intimidating enough to those who are not "regulars." Moreover, its procedures may be such as to confuse and/or hinder even those with a meritorious case to present.

Thus it is that the Small Claims Court Assistance Manual for REALTORSreg; and Their Clients, can provide valuable assistance to members of the California Association of REALTORSreg; CAR. The manual was created by the CAR legal staff. Its declared purpose is "to help REALTORSreg; and their clients prepare for and present a case in small claims court."

The rules for small claims courts vary from state to state. In California, as of January 1, 2012, small claims court jurisdiction is up to 10,000. Small is bigger than it used to be. Even if a plaintiff is owed, or thinks he is owed, more than 10,000, he can choose to waive his rights to the excess and proceed in small claims court. Suppose there is a dispute over a 15,000 earnest money deposit. The plaintiff could waive the 5,000 excess over the courts jurisdiction. It is understandable why someone might want to do this. The case will be heard in a much shorter time frame than would be likely in a higher venue. Also, in small claims court there are minimal legal costs. That is because, with very limited exceptions, attorneys are not permitted to represent a party in a small claims court action.

The CAR small claims manual is designed to provide help for typical real estate >Create a folder with tabs, so that if the judge wants to see, for example, the purchase agreement, he or she can quickly flip right to it. The easier it is for a judge to find and view a document the more likely that judge will actually examine it

Watch several cases before going to court.

State the most important part of your case first and follow up with your key points.

Definitely do not interrupt the judge. When the judge begins talking, you stop talking. Dont attempt to talk over the judge. The judge can interrupt you, but you cannot interrupt the judge.

Chapters 3 -- 6 of the manual address a variety of scenarios. They are grouped around four categories:

Chapter 3 -- Claims by a listing broker for compensation

Chapter 4 -- Claims by a buyer for return of a deposit or damages

Chapter 5 -- Claims by a seller for >Chapter 6 -- Defenses by a broker against claims made by a buyer

The scenarios have a sample opening statement, a list of suggested documents, a list of the >CAR members can access the Small Claims Manual at the legal section of the organization web site, It can be downloaded, or one can just use the link. The manual is a valuable member benefit.

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