How To Avoid Misrepresentation Claims In Real Estate Sales

20 October 2020
 Categories: Law, Blog


Misrepresentation of some aspect of a property is one of the most common reasons for claims or suits following sales. The best way to avoid the problem is to diligently review all representations you make, and it's also wise to retain real estate attorney services. Here are three things you should do to reduce the odds you'll be accused of misrepresentation as a seller.

Hire a Professional Building Inspector

You don't know what you don't know, but the law doesn't necessarily see that as a defense. The best move is to have a professional inspector visit the property and determine if there are any problems. If there is a lot of land at the site or some localized issues, you may also want to hire a surveyor or even an engineer.

If you repair something, it should also be re-inspected. When you leave something be, it has to go into the representations about the building. Make a detailed list of issues you aren't going to address so you can include these in any marketing copy you produce.

Also, strongly encourage any interested buyers to hire property inspectors that they trust. Everyone should get another set of eyes on any problems for the sake of thoroughness.

Check the Property's History

County property registries are immensely useful for seeing what you need to disclose about a piece of real estate. If a previous issue was discovered at the site, it should be in the registry. You might not be thrilled to learn that a house was built on top of a toxic waste dump that a developer reclaimed 50 years ago, for example, but you'll be better off disclosing it than letting a buyer figure it out two months after closing.

Create Boilerplate Marketing Copy

Rewriting the same marketing copy for a property is a time-waster to start with. However, it also can leave differing representations about the property in various places. You don't want to try to reconcile differing descriptions between what's in a printed flier from the open house you held and the description that went onto your real estate agent's website, for example.

Create boilerplate copy that you will reuse across media. Have a real estate attorney review all of the copy to make sure it doesn't overstep on disclosures or fail to disclose something critical. If you need shorter versions for reuse, try to simply trim the larger text rather than creating new copy.