No, you should not ask your Real Estate Agent or Broker legal questions. Real Estate Agents and Brokers are not attorneys and are, therefore, prohibited by law from practicing law or dispensing legal advice.
Missouri Law states that “no person shall engage in the practice of law or do law business, as defined in section 484.010, or both, unless he shall have been duly licensed therefor and while his license therefor is in full force and effect…” Any person or entity that violates this prohibition is guilty of a misdemeanor and subject to a fine and treble [triple] damages. RSMo. § 484.020.
In plain English, this means that only licensed attorneys can practice law or advise on legal matters. Any non-attorney doing so will be breaking the law and subject to prosecution.
Asking legal questions to your real estate agent or broker is not only prohibited by law, it is a bad idea. First, it puts your agent in an uncomfortable position. Although they are licensed to engage in real estate agency or brokerage, they are not trained lawyers, and therefore not qualified to dispense legal advice. Not wanting to disappoint you or their broker, your agent may feel compelled to answer you in an area their training and licensing does not support.
If you ask your agent or broker a legal question, but their answer does not accurately reflect the law, you may have little recourse if you suffer damages from relying upon it. You may not be able to successfully sue your agent or broker for engaging in the unauthorized law business, because you 1) knew they were not a trained lawyer; and 2) likely signed a brokerage agreement indicating that the agent/broker was not engaged in the practice of law. Even when you have an excellent claim against an agent or broker, lawsuits are often very difficult or expensive to pursue.
Your agent/broker and lawyer have different, but complementary roles. Your agent helps you locate properties (if you’re a buyer), or locate buyers (if you’re a seller). State statute also permits agents and brokers to fill in legal forms that have been approved by legal counsel, and to use their own experience to aid you in negotiations.
Your lawyer, on the other hand, advises you on the contract terms, reviews the title work and survey, reviews closing documents from the lender and title company, and negotiates the detailed terms of the agreement, even altering pre-printed forms and clauses, to ensure the deal makes sense for you. Lawyers and Agents are both on your team, but they have different responsibilities.
If you have a legal question regarding a home purchase or sale, please feel free to call our office at 314.862.2237.