I just got an email from Teri Figueroa, the North County Times reporter who has been covering the Ummel v. Little case.
This is all I have:
> they (the jury) are back. Sided with the agent. We will have a story posted inside of an hour, I believe.
UPDATE: Here are the details….
The jury handed down a unanimous decision after two hours of deliberation.
“We felt that in any kind of purchase, especially one that big ”“ and most of us have had our own situations we’d been through ”“ the bottom lline really stops with you,” jury forewoman Wendi Brick said. “Whose final responsibility is to sign a contract? It’s yours.”
“It’s just a very sad situation for everyone,” Brick said. “You could tell the strain on everyone.”
Agent Mike Little: “I feel incredibly relieved and vindicated,” Little said after the decision. “It has been more than two years of quite problematic times for me, and I’m happy to get it behind me. I’ve just had a very difficult time working, approaching clients. You just get leery.”
The Ummels were not available for comment. Their attorney Eric Prosser said, “We thought we raised some good points but ultimately we respect the jury’s decision,” he said. “If there’s a broader picture, it’s that real estate agents who also do loans for their clients have to be very diligent about the information they get and what is disseminated to their clients.”
Have to agree with him on that. I expressed my opinion on the combination agent / lender in, “The Combination Real Estate Agent / Lender: One-Stop Shopping, or Half-Assed Service?“. I think it’s just a really bad idea.
My thoughts on the case? Of course I heard none of the evidence, but from what I read, it didn’t seem the Ummels had much of a case. “Buyer Beware” holds true. That does not absolve the agent of all responsibility. One of our primary jobs in this business is to help people through the process and to provide the information they need to make decisions. But we can’t make the decisions for them. This case was of great interest (or should have been) to agents, brokers and real estate buyers and sellers.
Did Mike Little make some mistakes? Likely. Could they have been prevented? Absolutely in my opinion. I wrote about why I wasn’t overly concerned when the case first came to light, and I’ll stand by that post. I suspect Mr. Little has changed some of his practices, and I assume the Ummels have learned a valuable lesson.
Mainstream Media reports:
Jury Says Realtor Not to Blame for Purchase Price – Voice of San Diego (this is a really good article. More in-depth than those listed above)