What To Do If You Bought A Misrepresented Property

Misrepresentation is a potential problem that hangs over every property sale. In law, misrepresentation occurs when relevant information about the features or condition of a property proves to be inaccurate. If you feel a seller misrepresented a property that you purchased, here are 5 things you should do.

Review the Original Representations

You'll want to determine if the issue was misrepresented in the first place. It's wise to retain copies of all material representations about the property, including website pages, pamphlets, and reports from home inspections. Your goal is to provide evidence that the seller misrepresented the condition of the property before you move ahead with more drastic actions. If you're not sure whether something is a misrepresentation, take the evidence you've collected to a real estate law firm and ask for an opinion.

Determine the Economic Damages

As is the case with all claims and lawsuits, a court will only humor an allegation of misrepresentation if there are meaningful economic damages involved. You can't nitpick little things that have little or no economic value. If you find a problem with the house, you can contact contractors to get several estimates for what repair work would cost.

Figure Out the Type of Misrepresentation

When someone willfully misrepresents a property, that's considered a form of fraud. If you can document fraudulent activity, you might be able to pursue a civil fraud claim in addition to simply seeking remedies for the defective parts of the property. Fraud covers things like falsifying professional reports.

Even if the case doesn't involve fraud, you may still seek remedies for misrepresentations due to negligence. For example, the seller might have simply ignored the need to have the property inspected for insect problems. If you encounter termites not long after moving in, you may have a case.

Document the Problems

It's also important to document each issue as soon as you encounter it. Maintain a written list of problems as you identify them, providing the date of discovery and a description of the issue. Likewise, take lots of photos of everything.

Contact the Seller

Few courts are happy when cases come straight to them. Contact the seller and any insurers involved with the sale to inform them of the situation. Demonstrating good faith in trying to resolve the matter out of court will speed up the process if you have to sue. Also, there's a good chance the parties can resolve the problem with compensation, repairs, or the return of the title to the seller.

For more information, contact a real estate law firm in your area.