What to do if a seller did not disclose a hole in the roof and burned electrical wiring in the walls to a buyer?

They did disclose garage roof and repaired that and added it to the mortgage price. This was just over 3 years ago. Is it too late to sue and, if not, who do I sue?

Asked on September 10, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Iowa

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

You can sue the seller for fraud.  Fraud is the intentional misrepresentation of a material fact made with knowledge of its falsity and with the intent to induce your reliance upon which you justifiably relied to your detriment.  In other words, you would not have purchased the property had you known of the hole in the roof and/or the condition of the electrical wiring.  Fraud also applies in cases of nondisclosure where the seller did not disclose a material fact which the buyer could not have reasonably discovered (the condition of the electrical wiring in the wall in your case).

Your damages (monetary compensation you are seeking in your lawsuit for fraud) would be either the benefit of the bargain or your out of pocket loss.

Benefit of the bargain means that a defrauded purchaser may recover the difference between the real and represented value of the property purchased regardless of the fact that the actual loss suffered might have been less.

Out of pocket damages for fraudulent misrepresentation permits recovery of the difference between the price paid and the actual value of the property acquired.

It is not too late to file your lawsuit because Iowa has a five year statute of limitations in fraud cases and a ten year statute of limitations for real estate claims.

A lawsuit must be filed prior to the expiration of the statute of limitations or you will lose your rights forever in the matter.


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