What are a purchaser’s rights if they omitted knowledge of asbestos on the seller’s disclosure statement?

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What are a purchaser’s rights if they omitted knowledge of asbestos on the seller’s disclosure statement?

My son purchased his 1st home 8 months ago. Seller’s disclosure statement indicated no knowledge of asbestos on property. My son recently discovered by accident that there is asbestos siding under the vinyl siding. The vinyl was installed by the sellers prior to the house being put up for sale. The sellers are investors who have sold many homes as “flips” in the area and have even written a book on how to flip houses. We cannot believe that they did not know there was asbestos siding on the home. I would like to know if my son would have any recourse here, what type of attorney he would need to pursue this and what should he be looking for relative to compensation? He never would have bought the home if he knew there was asbestos siding, as his intent is to eventually put an addition on the home and now he will have to pay an outrageous amount of money to have the siding removed when he is ready to do that. He did have a home inspection but, again, the asbestos siding had been covered up and was not visible.

Asked on August 10, 2011 Connecticut

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Your son could sue the seller for fraud.  Fraud is the misrepresentation of a material fact made with knowledge of its falsity and with the intent to induce reliance upon which your son justifiably relied to his detriment.  Fraud also includes nondisclosure by the seller in which the buyer could not have reasonably discovered the facts such as in this case where the asbestos siding was concealed.  Another factor to consider in fraud cases is the relative strength of the parties.  Here, the seller was an expert on flipping homes and wrote a book about it while this was your son's first home purchase.

Your son's damages (the amount he is seeking to recover in his lawsuit for fraud) would be either the benefit-of-the- bargain or out-of-pocket loss.  Benefit-of-the-bargain means a defrauded purchaser can 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 loss permits the recovery of the difference between the price paid and the actual value of the property acquired.

Your son could retain a real estate attorney or an attorney in general practice with experience in civil litigation.  Your County Bar Association might have a lawyer referral service  which could help your son find an attorney.


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