Sellers Disclosure of property conditions

I purchased a home in Florida that had storm damage from hurricane Charley. The sellers did not disclose that the house interior was flooded with water or had any mold. They did not disclose settlement cracks in walls or that the bathroom tile had fallen off in the past and they put it back using caulk. I remove some of the terrible caulk job to find the grout cracked one tile came right out and the drywall has fallen away behind it. I had a home inspection that found problems but not all of the problems that I have discovered such as the air conditioner intake is in a closet a few feet away from the attic and sucks in warm air from above. When it rains (when the radar is yellow or red) I could put fish in the water around my front door. I sent a letter of dissatisfaction to the seller their attorney replied that they did nothing wrong and would defend them vigorously. What I have found so far is the sellers pulled permits disclosing the sellers had knowledge of mold and standing water in the house. They signed affidavits for unlicensed contractor permits to do the job themself deposing that the property was not for sale, yeah right! one affidavit was signed right after The contract to purchase was accepted. Their attorney said that the bathroom tile was caulked earlier. again They did not disclose the wall condition but this indicated they knew a problem existed. The state attorney can’t prosecute! This needs to be investigated but I have found no way to file a complaint I talked to the police. Nothing. The documents I have point a picture of sellers who will say anything they want without fear of consequences. The truth of their actions are coming to surface. This is Fraud but they have a lot of money four years ago they paid 72,000.00 for the house I paid 178,500.00. In Florida can we rescind the sale? Can we get damages? Who do you call? I see an attorney next week. I saw one attorney that was not a real estate attorney even though That was what I asked for. Got Suggestions. I don’t have much money right now. The last attorney wanted 3000.00. I am a disabled veteran with a 100 percent disability rating. Thanks …

I am not a attorney, but done a good bit of RE investing as well as dealing with legal matters.

I think it will be very, very difficult to get the sale reversed. This is pretty rare and usually is related to title problems or other financial matters (not the condition of the property).

What you could to is sued for the amount to fix this issues. However, this is a very diifuclt route as well. This is why most lawyers are going to want money up from as the chances you win and collect are pretty small (unlike personal injury).

If you speak with an attorney, it must be a real estate attornery. Anybody is going to give you generalities that are not worth your time or money.

First and foremost, I would get a licensed contractor to give you an estimate to repair/mitigate all the issues you feel the buyer knew about and did not disclose. This is your damages.

Secondly, I would consider to sue in small claims court. The upper limit is probably aorund $5k, it is very low cost ($<100 to file), there usually are no lawyers for either side allowed and the mattter will be settle in one hearing (mostly). I would consider to do this even if the cost to repair is $10k (ie. sue for the max amt; eat the rest).

Then there is the issue to collect. This is the hard part, but if they own property in your county then I would recorder the lien at the co recorder (small fee) and it shoudl automatically attach to their property they won (i.e. they can not sell or refi without you getting paid). Thej you wait. There is also a method whereby you go back to the court and get the judge to force payment (a debtor examination; a bit more difficult of a route).

If you go the reg, big lawsuit, it will take years and tens of thousnads and even if you “win”, you may not recover attorneies fees or your judgement.

Bottomline, get an estaimate for repairs and head to small claims court (probably can even file to suit on line). There is no guarentee you will win, but its low cost, fast and probably your best shot (that I can think of).

Mike in Calif.

Thank you mike. Yes, I am getting estimates to bring the house up to value (damages). The V.A. has minimum property requirements and I am obligated to maintain the property. As I said I have proof in several areas where the sellers lied. Were do the lies end? Where are they telling the truth? This house had mold and water damage and was not disclosed he made repairs to the bathroom replaced tile but did he do it correctly? Water damage to the bathroom is pre-existing. The walls have visible cracks from settling. The Sellers disclosure said no to most items. Nothing was disclosed as yes. This is fraud! I will have to inform any insurance company insuring this property of my findings and that may cost me more. I have no choice but to go after this guy in court.

you should listen very closely to your attorney when you meet with him as to potential outcomes of pursuing a lawsuit. It sounds like you have a reasonable case and I’m sure some attorney will be happy to take your money and file your suit. The real question is what will it gain you. If you are looking for “justice”, etc you will be sadly disappointed in our legal system. Its a war of attrition and I’ve seen it consume people financially and emotionally. You MUST evaluate the opportunity cost vs. potential gain. I think at best you will invest thousand of dollars and hours of emotional resources to end up with a piece of paper for a judgement for maybe $10k or something, but never see a single penny in your bank account (IMHO). Hopefully I’m wrong and it is better, but its seem these kind of cases end up that way.

Greetings from Costa Rica! It motivates me to participates in the discussion forum the fact that when putting in sale property of tourist interest, I have met with an extensive “group” of Costarican and Northamerican realtors that seeks to obtain same or profitability it lives inthe business “by means of estrategies of exclusive agreements of search buyers” that the owners of the properties.


Alvaro Araya Alpízar