What is a buyer’s recourse regarding undisclosed foundation problems regarding their recent home purchase?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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What is a buyer’s recourse regarding undisclosed foundation problems regarding their recent home purchase?

My daughter recently purchased a used home. She did hire a professional home inspector. The inspector noted a possible concern with one of the corners of the house foundation. My daughter brought up this concern to her realtor. The selling realtor contacted his engineer, who came out and checked the foundation. He said the foundation was fine and all that had to be done was to seal the cracks. The selling realtor agreed. It sounds like a cozy partnership between the realtor and engineer. OK, so my daughter accepted this professionals opinion, and proceeded to purchase the property about 3 months ago. After my daughter moved in, she called a contractor to do some minor repairs in the home and to seal the cracks. The contractor, did not like the cracks in the corner foundation and wanted to bring in his own engineer. He did and this engineer stated that far more than sealing the cracks was needs to correct this problem. My daughter than hired another independent engineer on her own. He agreed a far more extensive problem existed and sealing the cracks wasn’t going to correct the problem. She now has a estimate of $12,000. They will have to dig 30 feet deep and place pins at the base. Obviously this is a large hit, since they are now cash poor, having recently purchased the house. Is the past homeowner, realtor, or first engineer provided by the realtor liable for this damage? Can they be sued to recover the $12,000?

Asked on April 6, 2019 under Real Estate Law, Virginia


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Your daughter would not have a case, unfortunately:
1) Your daughter was aware of the cracks (found by her inspector; inspected by an engineer), so this is not a case of an undisclosed hidden defect--that is, it is not a fraud case and the seller is not liable. 
2) Your daughter chose to accept the selling realtor's engineer's report, rather than hire her own engineer. Having chosen to do that, she again cannot complain that the extent of the problem was hidden from her: she chose to not do an independent investigation.
3) Neither the selling realtor nor the engineer hired by the realtor worked for her, and so did not have any obligations or duties to her. Therefore, she cannot bring claims against them.
In essence, your daughter forfeited her rights by not having an independent investigation done, but rather simply accepting what she was told.

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