Q: Can we sue the previous owners of a home we just bought for falsifying their Seller's Discloser?
We purchased and closed on a home July 19, 2022. The Sellers falsified information on the real estate home disclosure form. Because they stated that everything was in working condition and failed to disclose many hazardous matters that they were apparently aware of, along with literally covering up issues that we nor the Inspector could see or gain access to properly assess the property, we have now incurred over $18k of credit card debt trying to keep our newly purchased house from crumbling to the ground.
The Sellers failed to disclose foundation issues, electrical, plumbing and flooring issues of which we have solid proof they knew about, purposefully hid, and kept from us. We could be out another 20k-60k and would like to also sue for all plus the difference in what we would have paid and what we did pay for the home as well as sue for stress/suffering and hardship. We have everything ready and laid out for a lawyer to take the case to include codes they violated and exhibits.
It depends on what, if any, warranties you received when you purchased the home. Most previously-owned homes are sold as-is, meaning the buyer is not relying on any representations or promises from the seller regarding the condition of the home.
It is unsettled as to whether you can predicate a suit on information in a Seller’s Disclosure. Typically, an omission or misrepresentation in the Seller’s Disclosure allows the Buyer to cancel the closing without penalty (i.e. losing your escrow money).
In some cases, however, courts have held that if a Seller knew of a latent (hidden) condition that could not be discovered by means of a reasonably diligent investigation and affirmatively made a specific misrepresentation about that particular defective condition, the Buyer can recover either the cost to repair the condition or the diminution in value caused by the condition.
Ordinarily, you can’t recover mental anguish damages for property damages. Typically, such damages are only legally recoverable if an individual suffered bodily harm as a result—for example, if the floor collapsed while a person was standing on it and the person broke their back.
Cases of this nature tend to be very expensive and you likely will not recover all of the litigation expenses you will incur. Few experienced lawyers will take such a case on a contingency fee, so be prepared to deposit a significant retainer and to pay for expert witnesses.
A: There may be a solution, but I would have to learn more about the situation and see the evidence.
It sounds like you have the basis for a lawsuit for breach of contract and/or fraud and other causes of action. There are statutes of limitations on Fraud that expire after ONE YEAR from the fraud or one year from the discovery of the fraud. Be sure to get a lawyer ASAP to avoid any statute problems.
I hope this helps.
A: You may have a case. I would need to read through the details to learn more.
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