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Real Estate Fraud: Serious Water Leaks and Damage in Newly-Purchased Home

Miami real estate has its own ups and downs over the years with several properties still recovering from mortgage fraud issues and foreclosures. However, despite these challenges, the real estate market in Miami continues to thrive as more and more people are becoming interested about purchasing a property such as a home, a condo unit or a townhouse among many other choices. This steady stream in the market is undeniable which, in turn, increases certain risks among buyers. One of the risks includes damage to the property such as serious water leaks.

Imagine yourself purchasing a single-dwelling unit that looks picture perfect and set amidst a nice, warm and friendly neighbourhood. What drew you to purchase this property? It could be because of its proximity to picturesque views, sandy beaches and posh restaurants and cafes. It could also be for accessibility to places of interest. Or, it could be for its fine and sunny weather. Everything could have been perfect until you decide to repaint the ceiling and walls, and move the furniture. You see ugly marks and stains that spread all over; and later on, you find out that this is mold infestation caused by serious water damage and leaks. 

Miami Home Leaking

Case Study: Managing the Situation

I have personally seen clients, such as a young couple who recently moved in, who asked for advice about a newly-purchased home which was discovered to have serious water and mold damage. They had the problem assessed and investigated by credible specialists on water damage Fort Lauderdale residents had recommended to them. Is it possible to cancel the purchase upon discovery of the damages? What rights do they have as real estate buyers? Can they rescind the contract?

The answer varies on a case-to-case basis. It depends on several factors such as; if the damages had been disclosed and discussed by the seller to the buyer beforehand, evidence that prove or disprove such claims, and if there is really fraud or misrepresentation that exists in their transaction. In whatever situation, real estate buyers have the right or prerogative to sue the seller and to file the necessary charges.

Court Hearing and Resolution

The charges were filed by the couple against the seller which later on underwent trial in the local district court. It was found out that there were no evidences or substantial documents to support the couple’s request to rescind the contract. It was revealed that the seller knew about the existing water-related damages to the property and failed to have the problem checked to determine its severity. Furthermore, it was also proven that the problem has been disclosed to the buyers in passing but they had no idea just how serious the damage is because the stains looked harmless. 

The issue was brought up during their final negotiation process upon seeing small stains and discolorations next to the kitchen counter. The seller assured them that it’s nothing to be worried about and that it has already been taken care of. Thinking that it’s just minor stain, they agreed to buy the property only to discover later on that the house has multiple and serious water damages hidden everywhere and molds are literally in every corner. However, despite all these circumstances, the buyers cannot rescind the contract but rather were entitled to get back the down payment and deposit they gave to the seller (plus payment for the cost and fees relative to the filing of the case). This amount could then be used to cover the cost of repair of all noted damages. 

A Piece of Advice

It is always best to have a real estate lawyer when dealing with any real estate transaction. Having a lawyer involved throughout the process can protect your rights and interests as a buyer. You can have your best foot forward by having sufficient evidence and legal documentation in case of misrepresentation and fraudulent concealment by the real estate seller. And in the instance that problems arise in the future, you may be entitled to rescind the contract or at least get the best possible resolution that is completely in your favor.

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