If you got caught up in the real estate frenzy of the last year, you might be experiencing more than buyer’s remorse. In the race to move properties and make more money, Realtors across Ohio have been rushing the process and making mistakes—potentially even committing fraud—that have left buyers with unexpected repairs and expenses. The good news is that you don’t have to take this lying down. There are laws to protect buyers, and our real estate litigation team can help you hold the Realtor, seller, and home inspector accountable.
Red Flags That Something Might Be Wrong With Your Deal
In a hot market, buyers have to move fast. If you’ve missed out on a couple of properties because you didn’t act quickly enough, you might be willing to do almost anything to get into a home—including buying a house sight unseen or overlooking missing paperwork or signatures. We understand the feeling of desperation, but we encourage you to keep an eye out for these red flags:
- Realtors representing both the buyer and the seller. While this is not against the law, a real estate agent cannot represent the interests of both the buyer and the seller in good faith. Ultimately, the agent wants the house to sell because they want their commission. As a result, the buyer ends up with the short end of the stick. If a seller’s agent offers to represent you as a buyer, there could be something wrong with the property. We recommend that you walk away—or get your own agent.
- Items missing on a home inspection report. An inspection conducted by a professional home inspector should include all areas of the house. If certain areas are missing completely from the report, it’s likely that there are problems there, and the inspector left them out of the report rather than disclosing the damage or lying about it. Don’t assume that if the roof, basement, HVAC, plumbing, or other area is not mentioned in the report, it’s because they passed inspection. The truth is likely the opposite.
- Blank sections on seller’s disclosure form. The homeowner selling the house has to disclose every problem they know about on a form created by the Ohio Department of Commerce. The seller is required to check a yes, no, or not applicable box for over a dozen areas of the home and an additional dozen mechanical systems. If you are presented with a form with blank sections, this is a sign that—like the home inspector—the seller is trying to avoid disclosing a problem. This is not acceptable.
In a perfect world, you will be reading this before you have bought a house. However, if the deal is done and you are discovering structural, mechanical, maintenance, or other problems with the house, we encourage you to take another look at the inspection report and disclosures. It’s possible that the seller, Realtor, or home inspector acted in bad faith or even committed fraud. If this is the case, you could be awarded double the actual damages. Even if there is no evidence of bad faith and the Realtor or inspector simply made a mistake by moving too quickly, our real estate litigators might be able to rescind the transaction or get reimbursement for the cost of unexpected repairs.
Real Estate Problems Are on the Rise
Unfortunately, we are seeing more and more of these kinds of issues across Ohio. But just because you signed documents and agreed to contingencies, that doesn’t mean you have to accept the poor condition of your new property. Realtors are professionals who know better than to coach sellers and inspectors to hide deal-breaking damage or disrepair. Real estate litigator Ed Littlejohn is committed to holding Realtors accountable for unscrupulous and fraudulent behavior. If you have discovered costly issues with your new home that should have been disclosed during the purchase, call Littlejohn Law to help you clean up the mess. Desperate times do not justify fraud! Contact us today.