The old G.I. Joe series used to end with a valuable lesson for viewers, after the lesson, the G.I. Joe character would say “knowing is half the battle.” This holds true when it comes to real estate deals. Knowing what could go wrong is often half the battle when it comes to taking steps to better ensure everything goes right.
Two of the most common disputes include contract issues and a failure to disclose defects.
#1: Contract dispute
A breach of contract is likely the top legal issue when it comes to buying property. It is not uncommon for one party to use this argument to try to get out of the deal.
Contract disputes can involve many issues, including whether the deal was official. Each state requires buyers and sellers follow specific protocol for a valid real estate sale, one of which is the presence of signatures of all parties involved. The way we buy and sell properties has evolved, and it is common for email to play a major role in these negotiations. But is an email enough? We dug into this question in a previous post, available here.
#2: Failure to disclose
Another common allegation is that a seller failed to disclose a known material defect of the property. Although the exact laws vary by state, most put a duty of good faith on a seller to disclose defects that could have a negative impact on the property’s value. Federal law even requires certain disclosures, such as the presence of lead paint.
In these cases if the deal has not closed the buyer could try to get out of the transaction. Some state laws provide this option and the real estate contract itself may have a provision that protects the buyer in this situation. If already purchased, the case could go to court. The buyer could try to get monetary damages from the seller to try to remedy the defect.
Unfortunately, even those who take proactive measures to reduce the risk of a legal issue can find themselves facing one of these or other legal disputes while purchasing real estate. An attorney experienced in real estate disputes can review the process, discuss your options, and provide representation as needed.
Now you know.