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A closer look at material misrepresentation in real estate

On Behalf of | Sep 15, 2021 | Firm News |

There’s a lot on the line when it comes to a real estate transaction. On one hand, you could be dealing with a significant amount of money that could affect you for years or even decades to come. On the other hand, securing a piece of real estate can set the stage for how you live your life or run your business.

Regardless of which side of the transaction you fall on, you’ll need to rely on transparency so that you know exactly what you’re getting. That’s why the parties to a real estate transaction are required to make certain disclosures to each other before wrapping up the deal. But what happens when misrepresentations are made?

Fraudulent misrepresentation

 Fraudulent misrepresentation occurs when a seller or real estate agent intentionally fails to disclose information that would have an impact on the buyer’s decision to purchase the property. For example, a real estate broker may fail to disclose faulty plumbing or electrical issues that are not only costly to repair, but which also pose a safety issue. The seller is aware of these issues but consciously chooses not to disclose them.

Negligent misrepresentation

 Not all actionable misrepresentations are intentional. However, those who are required to make disclosures can’t just bury their head in the sand to remain blind to issues that should be disclosed. Instead, they should be diligent in discovering issues that could affect a buyer’s decision on a transaction and disclose them accordingly.

Your options after misrepresentation

Assuming the misrepresentation in question wasn’t innocent, you might want to take legal action in order to protect your interests. But what does that look like? You essentially have two options.

Your first option is to affirm the contract, meaning that you’ll move forward with the transaction, but sue for damages. This might include the cost to repair the issue and recoup any lost value due to the problem.

Your second option is to try to rescind the contract in hopes of returning to the position that you were in prior to the real estate transaction occurring. This means that you’ll return ownership of the property to the seller and the seller will pay you the purchase price. Just keep in mind that you have to act on recission pretty quickly after discovering the facts of the misrepresentation, so don’t sit on the issue for too long.

How to present your case

 Regardless of the type of real estate litigation you’re facing, you need to be armed with evidence to support your position. While the contract itself will form the basis of your lawsuit, you’ll also need evidence to provide the court with context. This might include communications with the other side, documentation from inspections and repair professionals, and witness testimony. Make sure that you’re being diligent in uncovering the facts and proving the other party’s intent. This can be challenging to do, but if you’re proactive, you can better position yourself for success.

There’s a lot on the line when it comes to a real estate transaction. You shouldn’t allow another party to one of these agreements to dupe you to their own advantage. Instead, you should know the law and how to utilize it to your advantage. Be diligent in learning everything you can about the property at issue. Ask questions and make sure that you are as informed as possible throughout the course of the transaction’s dealings. Only then can you ensure that you’re protecting your interests and your right to enjoy a piece of real estate as it was presented to you.