What rights does a buyer have if the seller lies on the disclosure statement?

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What rights does a buyer have if the seller lies on the disclosure statement?

Prior to purchasing our home we discovered that the sellers were not honest on the disclosure statement. They indicated the house had PVC pipes knowing all along that it really had Polybutylene. We consulted several plumbers about replacing the pipes and decided to purchase the house anyway. We have since discovered the sellers were not honest about many items on the seller’s disclosure. They did not disclose that they installed the in-ground pool or remodeled the family room due to termite damage, The seller of the home now living out of state was also a real estate broker in the state where we purchased the home. This was also not disclosed. Now all of the repairs to the plumbing, pool and everything else is costing a fortune. What recourse do we have? Are we able to take any action against the sellers?

Asked on January 8, 2017 under Real Estate Law, South Carolina

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

If the seller lied about material (or important) things which were not reasonably obvious to the buyer or discernable at inspection, then the seller likely committed fraud. Fraud can provide a basis to sue to recover compensation, such as the cost to make necessary repairs. The issue is whether the things that were lied about were material: e.g. does it matter if the room was remodeled due to termite damage? If there is no current termite condition and the seller had the home treated and had a termite contract, there would seem to be no injury or harm from this lack of disclosure, and so the lack of disclosure is not material, or actionable. Or take the pool: if you have to redo the pool because they did not install it to code or get it permitted, that is one thing--you'd likely have a cause of action due to their failure to disclose issues with how it was installed or who installed it. But if there is no actual problem from this, there is nothing to sue about.


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