John F. GUSSIO, Jr., Broker; Gregory Joseph Gussio, Broker/Salesperson and Gussio Realty, Inc., Appellants
MISSISSIPPI REAL ESTATE COMMISSION, Appellee.
David M. Sessums, Vicksburg, attorney for appellants.
John L. Maxey II, William Holcomb Hussey, Jackson, attorneys for appellee.
Before LEE, C.J., BARNES and ISHEE, JJ.
¶ 1. John F. Gussio Jr. and Gregory (Greg) Joseph Gussio (the Gussios), realtors with Gussio Realty Inc., appeal the temporary suspension of their real estate licenses by the Mississippi Real Estate Commission (MREC). The MREC found that the Gussios made substantial misrepresentations to Timothy Keen and Darla Davis by leading them to believe a home was available for sale when the home was under contract with another buyer. The MREC also found that the Gussios failed to cooperate with the investigation of this matter. The decision of the MREC was affirmed by the Madison County Circuit Court.
¶ 2. On appeal, the Gussios argue: (1) no cause of action exists because a contract
was not formed; (2) the MREC's decision was not supported by substantial evidence; (3) they complied with the investigation; and (4) the MREC did not have jurisdiction over this matter. We find the MREC had jurisdiction, and its decision was supported by substantial evidence. Accordingly, we affirm.
STATEMENT OF FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
¶ 3. Keen and his fiancé, Davis (his wife at the time of the proceedings in circuit court), met with Becky Hathcock of Century 21, Moselle and Associates to search for a home in the Florence, Mississippi area. The couple decided to make an offer on a home located at 114 Carriage Lane in Florence. The property was listed by Lexus Homes Inc., with Greg as the builder/realtor. Hathcock contacted Greg, who informed her that the house was under contract. Keen and Davis continued their property search.
¶ 4. On March 29, 2010, Greg informed Hathcock that the existing contract on 114 Carriage Lane would expire the following day, and he asked if Keen and Davis were still interested in making an offer. Keen and Davis were interested, and after negotiating the price with Greg, Keen entered into a contract with Lexus Homes on April 2, 2010, for $156,500. Greg requested $500 earnest money, and Keen delivered the check for $500 to Hathcock. The closing was set for on or before April 28, 2010.
¶ 5. On April 5, 2010, Greg faxed Keen what Keen believed to be the final contract. In preparation for the closing, Keen paid $200 for loan processing and $300 for a home inspection. In order for the home to be inspected, the utilities had to be turned on, and Hathcock contacted Greg to arrange this. Keen made a punch list of items to be completed on the home and gave it to Hathcock.
¶ 6. On April 15, 2010, Davis drove by the property at 114 Carriage Lane and saw people moving into the home. She spoke to them and found out that they had a contract on the home and were closing that day. Davis informed Keen, who then contacted Hathcock. Hathcock attempted to call Greg, but he did not answer. However, she was able to communicate with him by text message that day. Greg sent Hathcock a text message asking her to send him a good faith estimate. He never mentioned that someone else had a contract on the home. The closing with the other buyer went through on April 15, 2010, with a purchase price of $150,750.
¶ 7. On April 16, 2010, Keen filed a complaint with the MREC. The MREC notified the Gussios and Hathcock of the complaint and asked them to submit responses and documentation. Hathcock provided the requested documentation. However, the Gussios asked for additional time to review the matter. On May 26, 2010, the MREC received a letter from Gussio Realty that simply stated: " This transaction did not go through Gussio Realty, and was not in MLS. Therfore [sic], please close this matter." The letter was signed by John and Greg. Another letter was received that day from Greg denying that he entered into a contract with Keen. Still, no documentation was submitted. On July 6, 2010, John sent the MREC an incomplete copy of the contract between Lexus Homes and the purchaser of the Carriage Lane home. The MREC attempted to contact John at the telephone number he had provided, but it was not the correct number.
¶ 8. After a hearing, the MREC found that Greg had violated the rules governing real estate brokers by making substantial misrepresentations to Keen and Davis. Further, the MREC found that ...