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What Happens if the Seller Fails to Disclose Defects in a New York Real Estate Sale?

Buying property in New York is extremely exciting, whether it is your first home or another investment in your extensive portfolio. Because New York has one of the most expensive real estate markets in the entire nation, buying a home is a major accomplishment. Unfortunately, that feeling of joy and excitement can quickly turn sour when you realize that there is something seriously wrong with the property you just purchased.

What kind of legal options do you have in a situation like this? The first step is to enlist the help of a qualified attorney who has considerable experience with real estate litigation. These legal experts can guide you through your next steps and make sure that justice is served. New York laws protect buyers from these kinds of situations with a number of rules and regulations. Let’s explore what happens in this scenario.

Caveat Emptor

For many years, the general attitude of New York courts towards real estate purchases was caveat emptor, which translates roughly to “buyer beware.” However, courts these days are much more likely to take the side of the buyer in real estate litigation cases, especially when there is clear evidence that the seller failed to disclose key information.

The Disclosure Statement

A seller is obligated to provide the buyer with something called a disclosure statement prior to the sale of the home. These legal statements provide the seller with adequate information on a range of potential issues, including:

  • The age of the property

  • The state of the property’s plumbing systems and utilities

  • Any environmental concerns

  • Roof condition

  • Any water damage

  • Pests

What if I Did Not Get a Disclosure Statement?

While disclosure statements are required in New York, the seller can legally avoid providing you with one by paying you a fee of $500. If you agreed to this arrangement, it may be difficult to hold the seller liable for any potential housing defects. That said, it is still possible to pursue legal action against a seller, even if you did not receive a disclosure statement from them.

Your Legal Options

In order to hold the seller liable for undisclosed building defects, you must prove that they knew about the issues and did something to prevent you from finding out. Proving this in a court of law can be a little tricky, which is why it is critical to enlist the help of a qualified attorney. Generally speaking, there are two main legal options available to you if the seller failed to disclose defects:

Fraud: If the seller made some kind of false statement or failed to mention a key fact about the home, you may be able to sue them for fraud. A judge will only find the seller liable if you were justified in relying on their false statements. The seller must have had secret knowledge of the defects that no one else knew about.

Breach of Contract: Depending on the exact wording of your contract, a breach of contract lawsuit could also present a suitable course of action. A judge may find the seller liable if they included warranties in the contract.

Getting Legal Help

If you are concerned about your recent real estate purchase and potential defects in your property, reach out to the Glassman Law Group today.


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