Q: What legal action can I take for misrepresentation of a newly-purchased home?
My question is regarding the purchase of our new condo. The realtor told us on two separate occasions that the fenced-in yard was shared between us and the owner next door. Last night, the renter of that unit abrasively told me that is not a shared space, it belongs to her unit only. Had we known the yard wasn't shared, we wouldn't have purchased. The realtor has been responsive and willing to help broker a deal (the unit owner reached out and wants to meet tomorrow). If we can't convince him to let us share the space in exchange for taking care of it, what, if any, legal action can we take? Our real estate agent is with Berkshire Hathaway, so I have a feeling they covered themselves despite misrepresenting that detail aloud. I'm also nervous and upset that we were duped on something that was very important to our decision process.
A: It appears the broker is the listing broker as opposed to someone you retained specifically to represent you as the buyer? Assuming that is correct, the listing broker is not your fiduciary and not responsible for your best interests. Rather they represent the seller. They are nevertheless obliged to give you honest and accurate information about something like the boundaries of the property and the rights to share certain spaces. From what you say, this was a material aspect of the contract and you probably have a basis to drop out of the purchase and recover your earnest money if it cannot be worked out to your satisfaction. By the way, the best way to establish your rights to use the space is to have the neighboring unit owner issue an easement for that use in favor of the condo you are buying but that might be a big ask.
As for the responsibility of the broker, if he or she failed to give you honest and accurate information about the shared space, they may indeed have responsibility for problem. You might try to get them to accept a reduction in their commission that would be a credit for you in the purchase. If the sale fails and you recover your earnest money but have incurred other expenses, such as appraisals, that cannot be undone, then you could make a claim for those to be reimbursed by the broker but such claims have to be pursued under the terms of the contracts in place and those usually call for arbitration of such matters.
Justia Ask a Lawyer is a forum for consumers to get answers to basic legal questions. Any information sent through Justia Ask a Lawyer is not secure and is done so on a non-confidential basis only.
The use of this website to ask questions or receive answers does not create an attorney–client relationship between you and Justia, or between you and any attorney who receives your information or responds to your questions, nor is it intended to create such a relationship. Additionally, no responses on this forum constitute legal advice, which must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case. You should not act upon information provided in Justia Ask a Lawyer without seeking professional counsel from an attorney admitted or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction. Justia assumes no responsibility to any person who relies on information contained on or received through this site and disclaims all liability in respect to such information.
Justia cannot guarantee that the information on this website (including any legal information provided by an attorney through this service) is accurate, complete, or up-to-date. While we intend to make every attempt to keep the information on this site current, the owners of and contributors to this site make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to from this site.