What should buyer do when property size has been falsely advertised?

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What should buyer do when property size has been falsely advertised?

I’m purchasing house/land that was advertised as 1 acre. It has been advertised on all listing sites including the own listing agent’s sell sheet. Our offer was accepted, the inspector came through with a few issues but we worked them out, appraisal cam through just fine, we have already paid earnest money and were supposed to close in about a week. My realtor receives a call from sellers listing agent and says the property survey was a bit off the advertised property. We asked how much and now there is only 1/2 acre. The advertised price, appraisal, bank, insurance company has all performed their duties off the advertised house and acreage. Nobody that I have talked to has ever heard of something like this happening. What if any legal standing does the buyer hold? The market is extremely hot, I am homeless in a month and now the bank informed me my closing for next week is cancelled until it is figured out.

Asked on May 9, 2018 under Real Estate Law, Wisconsin

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

Did you see the property--i.e. did you ever visit it *before* putting your offer in?
If you did not visit it prior to bidding--you made your offer (the one that was accepted) sight unseen--then you could sue the buyer for "fraud": for a knowing or intentional misrepresentation (lie) upon which you reasonably relied in entering into the deal. That would enable you to do one or more of: void the agreement (get out of it), or sue for compensation (for any losses you incur--e.g. rent for some number of months if the mispresentation led to you being homeless; or for money back reflecting the difference in value between the house as is and as it was advertised). 
But the key is, to have a legal claim based on fraud, your reliance on what the seller said must have been reasonable. The courts consistently hold that if you saw something with your own eyes, it is *not* reasonable to rely on a written description--you are expected to trust your own perception over what you were told. Therefore, if you saw the property prior to entering into the contract to buy it, you may have a great deal of trouble sustaining a fraud claim in court, since you could not "reasonably" rely on a written description when you in fact saw the land and presumably made the offer based on what you saw.


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