Can I break the contract since there was misrepresentation?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Can I break the contract since there was misrepresentation?

I was attracted to a home due to the hardwood floor mentioned in the flyer and
MLS posting. We are in escrow with deposit now but there was a disclosure by
the seller that it is laminate instead of hardwood. Can we get out of the contract?

Asked on April 2, 2016 under Real Estate Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

IF there had been no mention of laminate in the inspection report and IF the floors could not be detected by you, when you walked through or viewed the home, as laminate, then this misrepresentation would likely qualify as "fraud" and so allow you to get out of the contract without penalty. However, fraud is only fraud when your reliance on the misrepresentation is "reasonable"--that is, you had no knowledge or reason to know that the representation was false. But if you could see for youself that the floors were laminate, and/or you had notice from an inspection report prior to entering into the contract, then the reliance was not reasonable and this would not be fraud.
So the issue is what did you or should have known, when: if you had no reason to doubt the representation prior to contracting, you would seem to have a good basis for getting out of the contract, but not if you did or should have known before contracting.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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