Can the previous owner and their realtor be sued for false information and damages?

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Can the previous owner and their realtor be sued for false information and damages?

I purchased my home 4 1/2 years ago. The MLS listing stated public sewer and water. Now for the last 7 to 8 months numerous plumbing issues have occurred. It was checked with the county and there are no such hook-ups. I contacted the realtor and she checked with the county as well.

Asked on January 23, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Virginia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

You can almost certainly sue the former owner for making a false disclosure or representation--lying about sewage and water hook-ups would be fraud. You could potentially recover either the cost to make the hook ups, or the dimunition in value of a home without them (e.g. you paid $350,000; without the hookups it's worth $325,000; you could possibly recover $25,000). You may also be able to recover your out-of-pocket costs (e.g. the plubmber whose come in to look at things).

You should contact an attorney right away: there is a time limit to sue, called a statute of limitions or SOL. This varies by state, but you want to file the suit before the SOL expires. 4 1/2 years puts you in jeopardy of already being near, if not already past, the SOL--therefore, you should not waste any more time.

As to the seller's  realtor: realtors are not required to independently verify the disclosures, so if the realtor had no reason to know of the misrepresentation, he or she is probably not liable. Still, you should discuss whether you should at least initially name the realtor as well with your attorney.


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