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Expert Witness

Steve Vondran – Expert witness real estate, mediation and arbitration services.

Real estate expert witness california

Overview

Steve Vondran, Esq. (“Attorney Steve”) is a California and Arizona licensed business and real estate lawyer.  He has also earned real estate broker licenses in both states.  In addition, he has run his own real estate company, and has prior experience in residential mortgage lending, direct lending, and commercial real estate.  We can help you when you need an expert witness, or need ADR (alternative dispute resolution) services such as hiring a real estate mediator or arbitrator to hear your dispute.

Mr. Vondran is one of the pioneers of real estate foreclosure defense and broker defense law in the State of California, and has appeared on Fox News as a real estate analyst three times. He fights hard for his clients and has a strong track record of success.

You can view our Business & Real Estate Youtube Channel here (make sure you SUBSCRIBE by clicking on the Red “V” in the right hand corner of the page that pops up).  If you are looking for an expert witness for your California or Arizona lawsuit, arbitration or mediation, you may also fill out the contact form below.

Real estate broker fiduciary duty law

Here is a basic overview of real estate BROKER FIDUCIARY DUTIES owed to Clients in California (the law is similar in Arizona):

1.  A real estate broker owes “fiduciary duties” to their real estate clients:

A “fiduciary” is the highest position of trust, and a broker needs to take that trust very seriously.  We wrote a blog on broker fiduciary duties.  This basically means you have to put your clients interests ahead of your own, and as I tell clients, act as if you were helping our your elderly grandmother, grandfather, mom, dad, brother or sister.  A fiduciary is the highest duty that can be imposed as a matter of law (it is similar to that of a “trustee).  See Black’s Law Dictionary.

2.  Duty to disclose known material facts in a real estate transaction: In Easton v. Strassburger, 152 Cal. App. 3d 90, 99, 199 Cal. Rptr. 383, 387 (Ct. App. 1984) the Court discussed the duty:

“It is not disputed that current law requires a broker to disclose to a buyer material defects known to the broker but unknown to and unobservable by the buyer. (Cooper v. Jevne (1976) 56 Cal.App.3d 860, 866, 128 Cal.Rptr. 724; Lingsch v. Savage (1963) 213 Cal.App.2d 729, 733, 29 Cal.Rptr. 201; see also regulations of the Department of Real Estate set forth in Cal.Admin.Code, tit. 10, § 2785, subd. (a)(3).) The Cooper case contains the most complete judicial articulation of the rule: “It is the law of this state that where a real estate broker or agent, representing the seller, knows facts materially affecting the value or the desirability of property offered for sale and these facts are known or accessible only to him and his principal, and the broker or agent also knows that these facts are not known to or within the reach of the diligent attention and observation of the buyer, the broker or agent is under a duty to disclose these facts to the buyer…….. If a broker fails to disclose material facts that are known to him he is liable for the intentional tort of “fraudulent concealment” or “negative fraud.”

Broker standard of care expert witness california

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3.  Another good California case discussing the broker duty of care owed to real estate clients is Loughlin v. Idora Realty Co., 259 Cal. App. 2d 619, 629, 66 Cal. Rptr. 747 (Ct. App. 1968) which noted several good points:

a.   A real estate agent is a fiduciary. His obligation of diligent and faithful service is the same as that imposed on a trustee. (See also Cal. Civ. Code, § 2322)
b.  The real estate agent has, among other duties, the duty:
(1) to refrain from making any misrepresentation to his principal (California Bus. & Prof. Code, § 10176, subds. (a), (c));
(2) to make to the principal “the fullest disclosure of all material facts concerning the transaction that might affect the principal’s decision” See also Rest. 2d Agency, § 381).
(3) The real estate agent has the further duty to disclose to the principal all offers to buy the property in addition to the offer accepted [“Liability of real-estate broker or agent to principal for concealing or failing to disclose offer,”]
(4) to refrain from dual representation in a sale transaction without full disclosure to both principals and their knowledge and consent. (McConnell v. Cowan (1955) 44 Cal.2d 805, 809-810 [285 P.2d 261, 482]

4.  California real estate agency disclosure form set duties (See Cal. Civ. Code section 2079.16):

a.  Seller’s agent duties:

“A fiduciary duty of utmost care, integrity, honesty, and loyalty in dealings with the Seller. To the Buyer and the Seller:  (a) Diligent exercise of reasonable skill and care in performance of the agent’s duties.  (b) A duty of honest and fair dealing and good faith.  (c) A duty to disclose all facts known to the agent materially affecting the value or desirability of the property that are not known to, or within the diligent attention and observation of, the parties.   An agent is not obligated to reveal to either party any confidential information obtained from the other party that does not involve the affirmative duties set forth above.”

b.  Buyer’s agent duties:

An agent acting only for a Buyer has the following affirmative obligations to the Buyer:

“A fiduciary duty of utmost care, integrity, honesty, and loyalty in dealings with the Buyer. To the Buyer and the Seller:  (a) Diligent exercise of reasonable skill and care in performance of the agent’s duties.  (b) A duty of honest and fair dealing and good faith.  (c) A duty to disclose all facts known to the agent materially affecting the value or desirability of the property that are not known to, or within the diligent attention and observation of, the parties. An agent is not obligated to reveal to either party any confidential information obtained from the other party that does not involve the affirmative duties set forth above.

5.  Wyatt v. Union Mortgage case (California mortgage loan broker duties):

A mortgage loan broker is customarily retained by a borrower to act as the Borrower’s agent in negotiating an acceptable loan. All persons engaged in this business in California are required to obtain real estate licenses. See Cal. Bus. & Prof.Code, ss 10130 and 10131, subd. (d).) Thus, general principles of agency (Civ.Code, ss 2228 and 2322, subd. 3) combine with statutory duties created by the Real Estate Law (see Bus. & Prof.Code, s 10176, subds. (a), (i)) to impose upon mortgage loan brokers an obligation to make a full and accurate disclosure of the terms of a loan to borrowers and to act always in the utmost good faith toward their principals. “The law imposes on a real estate agent ‘the same obligation of undivided service and loyalty that it imposes on a trustee in favor of his beneficiary.

The Court continued:

“This relationship not only imposes upon him the duty of acting in the highest good faith toward his principal but precludes the agent from obtaining any advantage over the principal in any transaction had by virtue of his agency……  real estate licensee is “charged with the duty of fullest disclosure of all material facts concerning the transaction that might affect the principal’s decision. See Wyatt v. Union Mortgage Co., 24 Cal. 3d 773, 782, 598 P.2d 45, 50 (1979).
In Wyatt, the Court found:

“Here, the record discloses that respondents were persons of modest means and limited experience in financial affairs, whose equity in their home was their principal asset. They retained a mortgage loan broker to negotiate for them highly complex loan terms and they may be assumed to have justifiably relied on the latter’s expertise. Against such a backdrop, the broker’s failure to disclose orally the true rate of interest, the penalty for late payments or the swollen size of the balloon payment clearly constituted breach of the broker’s fiduciary obligations. It is noteworthy also that the provisions regarding interest rate, late charges and balloon payment were highly unfavorable to the borrower and yet the broker made no attempt to draw his clients’ attention to these matters.” (what could arguably be called the duty to counsel and advice).
These duties should be heightened when it comes to dealing with elders (those over 65 at the time of the real estate transaction) to avoid any appearance of financial elder abuse.  These are not the SOLE duties and this is not an exclusive list.

Real Estate Topics to Qualify

1.  Real estate broker duties – Residential real estate – Commercial real estate 2.  Real estate broker standard of care – Residential brokers – Commercial brokers – Property management companies 3.  California non-judicial foreclosure process / requirements 4.  Truth in lending requirements 5.  Securitized loans 6.  California mortgage lender / mortgage broker legal standards of care 7.  Eminent Domain – value of existing zoning versus value of reasonably probable zoning (to establish “just compensation” in takings cases) We cannot guarantee we will qualify as an expert on every topic listed above.  So contact us to discuss your case.

Education

– JD Whittier Law School – BS, Cal State Fullerton

Associations

– Member California State Bar Association – Member Arizona State Bar Association – Member Orange County Association of Realtors – Member Phoenix State Bar Association – Member Camelback Village East Planning Committee (appointed by Mayor Stanton)

Costs to retain Steve Vondran as a real estate expert

Mr. Vondran can be retained for as low as $3,500 to serve as an expert witness in your case.  This is the minimum retainer amount and all time billed on the case will be at our hourly rate as agreed between the parties.

Contact us for more information

Contact us by filling out the form below.  Please indicate what area of real estate you are interested in, and we can get back to you to discuss.  We handle cases in San Francisco (Bay area), Beverly Hills (Los angeles area), San Diego (La Jolla / Carlsbad), and Newport Beach, (Orange County).  We also handle cases in Maricopa County, Arizona including Phoenix, Scottsdale, Mesa, Tempe, Buckeye, Peoria, Chandler, Flagstaff and Gilbert. Our phone number is (877) 276-5084.

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