The Case of the Real Estate Agent’s Negligent Misrepresentation and the Buyer’s Broken Back

Posted By on August 25, 2015

Florida real estate agents and their real estate brokers are professionals who must be licensed by the State of Florida to do business here. Applicants for a real estate agent’s license must study and pass a test to demonstrate their knowledge of the real estate industry. They have to take continuing education classes to keep up their knowledge and industry savvy on an annual basis, too.

Which means that people in the market for residential real estate here in South Florida should be able to trust the real estate agent or broker in a transaction, right? Sure!

And for the most part, things go smoothly here. Most real estate professionals aren’t trying to deceive anyone and they aren’t thinking of ways to commit an intentional act or make a “fraudulent misrepresentation” just to get a deal closed. (Though this does happen.)

However, real estate agents are human and they can make mistakes just like anyone.

Negligent Misrepresentation Happens – Mistakes Are Made by Real Estate Professionals

If a real estate agent or real estate broker in Florida makes a mistake and unintentionally misrepresents a material fact about a property, they may not mean to cause anyone harm. However, if their mistake in fact, their unintentional misrepresentation, does end up being relied upon by a buyer — and that buyer gets hurt because of it, then the real estate professional may be liable for the harm that has resulted.

In Florida, this would be a claim based upon “negligent misrepresentation” against the real estate agent or broker. Florida law places a legal duty of care upon the real estate agent or broker to provide accurate information in their real estate dealings. If they fail to meet this duty of care by unintentionally misrepresenting something, and that failure causes damage or harm to they buyer (or seller) that is owed their legal duty of care, then they are liable for a form of professional negligence.

The real estate agent or broker can be held financially responsible for the damages and harm caused by that failure in their duty of care even if it was a mistake on their part and they meant no harm. In these situations, their professional insurance coverage (called an “errors and omissions policy”) may provide coverage for the harm and damage that the buyer (or seller) is claiming.
Attic ladder opening

The Case of the Buyer Who Fell Through the Attic

One clear example of how negligent misrepresentations by a real estate professional can end up causing someone very real harm happened in the case of Horn v. First Orlando Realty Management Corp.,483 So. 2d 80 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1986).

In this case, Margaret Horn was told by the real estate agent that the attic of her new place would be fine for storage. The real estate agent even went so far as showing Margaret Horn how she could access the attic and how to turn on the lights up there. Not only did she demonstrate this to Ms. Horn once — she showed her how to get up into the attic twice.

So, no surprise here, Margaret Horn moved in and decided to take advantage of that attic space to store some things. She pulled down the fold-away stairs from the ceiling. She climbed up, and she turned on the lights.

However, when Margaret Horn stepped out into the attic space and placed her weight on a flimsy part of the attic floorboards, the surface was not strong enough to hold her weight and she fell through the attic and down into the room below. This was a serious fall: Ms. Horn suffered a broken back in the accident.

When meant that Margaret Horn had a serious personal injury with life-changing consequences — and she had a substantial personal injury claim against the real estate agent and her real estate management company. When Ms. Horn’s claims were not honored by the real estate company and its agent, she sued.

Specifically, Margaret Horn sued for negligent misrepresentation regarding the ability to use the attic space for storage and the safety of doing so and the jury agreed with her. She argued that the real estate agent (and her employer, the real estate management company) had a duty of care under Florida law to Margaret Horn to be clear and correct regarding the attic and its safe accessibility.

There were no allegations that there was any intentional wrongdoing here. Mrs. Horn argued that the agent breached a duty of care to her when she explained that the attic could be used for storage, going so far as to demonstrate how to get up and access the attic for that purpose on two different occasions. When Mrs. Horn fell and was hurt, she argued that the breach of the agent’s duty of care caused her harm under Florida law for which the agent and her real estate management company are financially responsible.

While the trial court judge sided with the real estate defendants, on appeal the reviewing court agreed with the jury and also saw things her way.

“Because the complaint adequately alleged negligent misrepresentation and the evidence well supported the allegations, the trial court judge erred in substituting his judgment for that of the jury,” explained the appellate court which ordered a judgment be entered in favor of Margaret Horn on the grounds of negligent misrepresentation by the real estate agent.

Do You Have a Claim for Negligent Misrepresentation Against a Florida Real Estate Agent?

In Florida, real estate closings happen every day. If you are a buyer or seller that suspects they may have been the victim of a breach of an agent or broker’s legal duty of care to them, and you’ve got damages as a result of that breach, then you may have a claim that may be worth pursuing.

However, there are other legal factors to consider here, too. One of them is the contract that was signed by the real estate broker or the real estate agent — is there language that limits their liability? Are there other defendants that may be liable instead of the agent or in addition to them? And is this a case of mistake (negligent misrepresentation) or one of misconduct (fraudulent misrepresentation)? Having a discussion with an experienced Florida real estate lawyer can help you decide if you have a case, and if so, how best to proceed.

 

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Do you have questions or comments? Then please feel free to Chat with Larry in the comments below, at info@hallandalelaw.com, or (954) 458-8655. If you have a specific or personal situation, please call or email Larry because he can’t answer specific fact questions in general comments.

 

When Florida Home Buyer Discovers His New Property Floods: A Case of Fraudulent Misrepresentation

Posted By on August 18, 2015

Here in South Florida, flooding is a big problem — something that buyers and investors from other states or other countries may not experience. Not only do we have the threat of hurricanes swooping in with tons of water, there is also the factor that parts of our state are wetlands and marshes: the Everglades cover most of South Florida, for example. Our terrain invites flooding in ways that other  land masses do not; and when there are thunderstorms with heavy rains here in Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach Counties, there’s always a possibility of flash flooding, too.

Which means, that anyone considering buying a home or condo in South Florida needs to know about the risks and dangers of flooding and how to prepare for those conditions. Flood insurance is one way to prepare for floods, for example. But how can you prepare when you’re not even aware of the problem?

FEMA - 37615 - Community flooded by Tropical Storm Fay in Florida

The Case of the Home Buyer Whose New Property Floods

In the case of Wassall v. Payne, 682 So. 2d 678 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1996), Dorothy Frazier bought real estate from W.H. Payne with Dean Highfield acting as the real estate broker. A day after Mrs. Frazier closed on the deal, Richard Wassall leased the property from her. Under the lease terms, Wassall would pay the monthly payments to Payne for the purchase. Wassall was involved in the negotiations to buy the real estate; in fact, at one point he was the buyer and not Frazier.

During the closing process, Wassall asked about flooding dangers to the property. Both the seller and the broker told him not to worry and the deal was finalized.

Wassall moved forward after closing and started spending money on improvements to the property — until he discovered that the property was at risk for periodic flooding.

So, Mr. Wassall filed a lawsuit together with Mrs. Frazier. Specifically, Wassall and Frazier sued both the seller and the real estate broker for (1) fraudulent misrepresentation, (2) negligent misrepresentation and (3) negligence per se.

The seller and the broker argued first that Wassall couldn’t sue them — he was a tenant!

Upon review, it was held that the “privity” argument could not fly. Meaning, as long as Wassall was a victim of misrepresentation by the seller and the broker, then the fact that Wasall had no contract with them wasn’t going to prevent Wasall from proceeding with his misrepresentation case (he wasn’t suing for breach of contract).

Both the real estate broker and the seller could be held liable for misrepresenting the flooding characteristics of the property and if it could be shown that they did so intentionally, not by an error or omission, then they could be held liable for fraud — fraudulent misrepresentation.

What is Fraudulent Misrepresentation by a Florida Real Estate Broker?

What makes fraudulent misrepresentation different from negligent misrepresentation is the intent of the person who makes the representation. When a real estate professional makes a mistake, for instance if the agent provides the wrong square footage in an MLS listing, then the buyer may have a claim for damages based upon an unintentional error (the agent didn’t intentionally make a fraudulent statement). A mistake can be grounds for a negligence claim – the agent or broker made an error (by not investigating or by not verifying information) when representing the details about the property during the sales negotiations or closing process.

However, fraudulent misrepresentation is a different story.

In these situations, the real estate professional or seller knows the truth about the property and chooses to misrepresent a condition in order to close the deal. Maybe it’s an exaggeration. Maybe it’s an omission. Maybe they think it’s okay not to tell the buyer everything, or maybe they think it’s not that big of a deal so why bother sharing it.

Whatever the motivation behind the seller or the real estate broker (or agent) failing to be forthright, if the buyer is hurt because of their behavior, their knowledge of a circumstance that materially impacts the value of the property that they fail to disclose or intentionally misrepresent can be the basis of a fraudulent misrepresentation claim.

And, damages for fraud are different than damages for negligence: it’s possible that the buyer can receive additional damages against a defendant found guilty of intentional misconduct. Moreover, “errors and omissions” insurance (lots of real estate agents carry this type of insurance) does not cover fraudulent acts; those insurance policies only cover mistakes.

What Are The Elements of a Fraudulent Misrepresentation Claim?

In Florida, a “fraudulent misrepresentation” lawsuit can be filed against a real estate broker (or a real estate agent or seller) if the following elements are present:

(1) there was a false statement concerning a material fact;
(2) the broker or agent’s knowledge that the representation is false;
(3) an intention on the part of that broker that the representation induce the buyer to act on it; and,
(4) consequent injury (damage) by the buyer acting in reliance on the representation.

See – Johnson v. Davis, 480 So.2d 625, 627 (Fla. 1985).

Are You The Victim of a Fraudulent Misrepresentation and Your Home is Flooding?

If you recently purchased Florida real estate and your property was materially damaged by a flood, and a real estate agent intentionally made untrue representations about the flood conditions of the property, then you may want to have someone review your claim for possible wrongdoing.  An experienced Florida real estate attorney can help you explore your options, including filing an insurance claim, and, if necessary, filing a lawsuit for you to get justice.  Most real estate attorneys, like our office, do not charge for an initial consultation.

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Do you have questions or comments? Then please feel free to Chat with Larry in the comments below, at info@hallandalelaw.com, or (954) 458-8655. If you have a specific or personal situation, please call or email Larry because he can’t answer specific fact questions in general comments.

When Your New Home Isn’t What You Expected: Misrepresentation by a Real Estate Agent

Posted By on August 11, 2015

Here in Florida, real estate transactions take place every day. Closings and people moving into new homes are happening all of the time in the Miami Dade – Broward – Palm Beach areas. A lot of these transactions are first time residential home purchases, where new buyers are excited about owning a home or condo.

In most Florida residential real estate transactions, the closings go smoothly and the buyers move into their new home without a glitch. However, that’s not always the case. Unfortunately, there are situations where buyers, once they move in, meet with some unexpected surprises.

When these surprises relate to a material difference in the condition of the property (in terms of what they thought they were buying and the actual condition of the property) it places some buyers in a position of either having to live with things as is, or calling a Florida real estate lawyer to see how they can hold someone responsible for these problems (problems like, leaky roofs, bad plumbing, easements, boundary issues, septic tanks, etc.).

First Question: Why Did the Buyer Think He Was Getting Something Different?

One of the first questions a real estate lawyer will ask: what made the buyer think they were getting something different? All too often, that unhappy buyer will explain that they were told something by the real estate agent or broker (or the information was included on the MLS sheet or on the internet). Which means, someone made a representation that the buyer relied upon which turned out to be untrue.  That misrepresentation can form the basis of a lawsuit in which the buyer seeks to hold someone to account for their error or misstatement.

Misrepresentations in these situations can be either “negligent” or “fraudulent.” Negligent misrepresentation by a real estate professional is the same thing as an unintentional misrepresentation. It’s a mistake. They have communicated facts that are not accurate, but they didn’t do this knowingly. Fraudulent misrepresentations are different: when this happens, the facts reveal that the real estate agent or broker did know the truth but decided to spin things in order to get the deal done. Fraudulent misrepresentations are usually done for the agent’s benefit. A seller’s broker may be held legally liable to a buyer for either negligent and/or fraudulent misrepresentation.  See Young v. Johnson, 538 So.2d 1387 (Fla. 2d DCA 1989).

 

Winter park canal

The Case of Florida Home with Canal Access That Was Denied the Buyer

Several years ago, Anthony Attanasio and his wife Roxanne Attanasio, along with several of their neighbors, bought homes with lots that backed up to a beautiful Florida canal. Their properties were scenic — there were wooded areas and tall trees, which not only added to the ambiance of the place but provided privacy and a “natural buffer.” In fact, they paid a premium for these lots just because of these added attractions.

So, imagine their dismay and frustration when they learned that most of the tall trees were going to be cut down and removed; and that a six foot fence was going up all along the canal, blocking access to the waterway from the homeowners’ lots.

This wasn’t what they paid for — so they sued. They sued the developer of the community as well as the real estate agents that had given them the understanding that they would be able to enjoy the canal and that the trees were going to be there.

Specifically, they alleged in their lawsuit that they were told things like there would be a big easement at the rear of their lots, next to the waterway and that they could use the canal for boating or fishing or simply to enjoy the water view. Additionally, they were told that the pretty wooded area next to the canal would be kept with its lush foliage and big trees leaving them with a “natural buffer.” Finally, the lots would have sprinkler systems installed where the water would be provided by nearby lakes and the buyers would not have to pay for the water use. Their grass would be watered for free via the installed sprinkler system.

What a deal, right? Who wouldn’t want one of these lots and to live in a nice home built near the pretty Florida canal?

Empty Promises & Statements Form Basis for Misrepresentation Lawsuit

NONE of this stuff proved to be true after the buyers purchased their lots. These were all misrepresentations made to them which they relied upon when they closed on their lots in Mission Bay. Here was what the agents specifically told Anthony and Roxanne Attanasio when they were thinking about buying their lot — as he described in his deposition (again, quoting from the opinion):

a. that there would be a twenty-five (25) foot landscape buffer easement at the rear part of the lot;
b. that he would have the use of the land behind his house that bordered the canal, as well as use of the canal itself;
c. that the wooded area to the rear of his lot would be allowed to grow and act as a natural buffer, and that the trees growing there would not be removed;
d. that the sprinkler system for his lot would obtain water from the canal or a nearby lake, which would prove beneficial because it would free him from any water bills;
e. Because of the purported benefit provided by the canal lots, the Defendants were charging a lot premium; and
f. The lot premium originally charged for Mr. Attanasio’s lot was $11,000. Although Mr. Attanasio advised the sales agent that this price was too high, the agent explained that “it was well worth it because you had access to the canal and a lot of benefits that you wouldn’t have on another lot.” To avoid losing the sale, the agent said he’d “do (Mr. Attanasio) a favor” and reduce the premium to $8,000.00.”

Pretty specific stuff, right? And as Mr. Attanasio detailed, these were very facts which built up the value of that lot in the eyes of both he and his wife. They were going to be able to access the canal, and they weren’t going to have to pay to keep the grass green. A big deal here: they paid MORE to get these amenities, and even haggled with the agent over how much of a premium they were going to have to pay over the standard lot price in order to have these bonuses.

The defendants tried to argue that they couldn’t be held liable here because none of this stuff was in writing (a “statute of frauds” defense). They lost when the reviewing court considered things. The misrepresentations here could form the basis of a lawsuit seeking money damages against the defendants for the difference in the value of the land as it was represented to the buyers and the land which they purchased.

See, Attanasio v. Excel Development Corp., 757 So. 2d 1253 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2000).

Victim of Negligent Misrepresentation: Florida Real Estate Lawyer Can Help

If you are the owner of Florida residential real estate who suspects that you relied upon a misrepresentation by a broker or agent, then you need to consider whether or not you have legal claims for money damages against your broker or agent, as well as the possibility of rescinding the deal or getting other kinds of relief. An experienced Florida real estate attorney can help you decide your best options in the situation and can negotiate on your behalf as well as filing a lawsuit if necessary for you to get justice.

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Do you have questions or comments? Then please feel free to Chat with Larry in the comments below, at info@hallandalelaw.com, or (954) 458-8655. If you have a specific or personal situation, please call or email Larry because he can’t answer specific fact questions in general comments.

Misrepresentation by Real Estate Agent: Wrong Square Footage in MLS Listing

Posted By on August 4, 2015

In Florida, real estate agents and brokers are seen as experts in their field (whether it be residential, commercial or industrial property) due, in part, to the fact they are licensed by the State of Florida to do business in our State. Licensure brings with it both the respect of being a licensed professional and also the legal duty to exercise care to protect those with whom these agents and brokers are dealing (”fair dealing”).

Misrepresentations: Negligent and Fraudulent

Florida law says if a real estate agent knew or should have known that a representation made to a buyer is not correct, whether or not the agent makes the representation or the seller does it, then that agent can be held liable for damages.  In many instances, an agent has a duty to investigate whether or not his or her statements are true and to give all interested parties correct information. That’s being a professional. It’s also not being negligent under Florida law.

In Florida, a negligent misrepresentation occurs when a real estate professional provides inaccurate or wrong information in a residential real estate transaction, but does not do so intentionally. It’s a mistake. It can be spoken or written. It’s a mistake and even if it was an innocent mistake; if the real estate agent or broker knew or should have known the information was incorrect they will be held liable to the injured party if they have been damaged because of the mistake or omission.

A fraudulent misrepresentation occurs when it’s more than a mistake: the agent or broker is aware that something is being misrepresented, they knew the information was wrong, and that someone is relying upon that misinformation, allowing the person who relied upon the information to be hurt and damaged.

1. Buyer Beware?

Many people are surprised that there’s not any “caveat emptor” or “buyer beware” protection for sellers and their real estate agents in cases of negligent misrepresentation. After all, if the agent didn’t know and just made a mistake, then isn’t the buyer just as responsible for investigating the property’s condition? Yes they are, but the seller still has a duty to disclose (to address this duty, we recommend having a seller’s disclosure statement part of any residential purchase and sales agreement).

Here, the Florida Supreme Court has made it clear that the doctrine of “buyer beware” doesn’t apply to people who are buying homes here in the Sunshine State.  Sellers and their agents have a duty to disclose facts that materially affecting the value of residential property which are not readily observable and are not known to a buyer. Here, it’s considered part of basic justice and fair dealing that there is a duty of disclosure. Johnson v. Davis, 480 So.2d 625, 629 (Fla. 1985).

2. Case Example: The Wrong Square Footage in the MLS Listing

Consider the case of Miller v. Sullivan, 475 So.2d 1010 (Fla. 1st DCA 1985). Mark and Patricia Sullivan decided to sell their home here in Florida, and signed a listing agreement with a licensed Florida real estate broker named Betty Hilgendorf to help them. The Florida real estate broker did what most everyone does here, which is list the home for sale in the MLS (Multiple Listing Service).

In the MLS listing for the Sullivan’s home, the square footage was shown as being “measured” at 1417 square feet. This was the number that Betty Hilgendorf was given by her clients, the Sullivans.

Meanwhile, another real estate broker, Edward Luce, had been hired by Robert Miller to help him find a house to buy. Luce found the Sullivan home in the MLS, showed the MLS listing printout to Miller, and Miller liked it. Miller liked it so much that he ended up buying the home.

According to trial testimony, Mr. Miller relied upon the MLS printout of the listing which stated that the house measured at 1417 square feet, and that he also relied upon his broker’s explanation to him that this square footage included the heated and cooled area of the house. When he agreed to buy the home, he thought he was getting 1417 square feet.

Mr. Miller then discovered that the 1417 was not an accurate number. The correct number was 1092. There was only 1092 square feet of heated and cooled area. There was an additional square footage of non-heated and non-cooled area which involved the garage and the utility room. That additional area was around 300 square feet.

So, the buyer got less square footage than he thought he had bought. Around 25% less. The square footage listed in the MLS was wrong.

Mr. Miller sued. He sued not just his broker, Mr. Luce, but also the seller’s broker, Ms. Hilgendorf, and the sellers, too. He sued the two brokers for breach of contract, fraud (fraudulent misrepresentation), and negligence (negligent misrepresentation). He sued the sellers for breach of contract and fraud (no negligence here).

In court, Mr. Miller lost his case against the sellers. The court ruled there was no evidence that Mr. And Mrs. Sullivan had made any representations, fraudulent or negligent, about the square footage to Miller. Additionally, there was no evidence that the listing agreement was incorporated into the sales contract between the seller and the buyer. The sellers were held to be not liable to the buyer for the misrepresentation of the square footage of the home. This was a “summary judgment” by the trial court judge that was approved by the appeals court.

However, the case could continue as to their real estate broker Betty Hilgendorf — no summary judgment for her. If the buyer could provide evidence to a jury that she had breached her duty of “honesty, candor, and fair dealing” to the buyer, then she would be liable for the misrepresentation in the MLS Listing.

Key facts here, according the the court, are:

  • Whether the square footage figure on the MLS listing is understood in the real estate community to represent heated and cooled area or the total enclosed or covered area of a house.
  • Whether Hilgendorf, as listing agent, had a duty to double-check by measuring the square footage figure provided by the Sullivans.
  • Whether the representation in the listing agreement that the square footage had been “measured” means that such measurement had been made by the listing agent or simply by the seller.

Victim of Negligent Misrepresentation: Florida Real Estate Lawyer Can Add Value

If you have been the victim of a misrepresentation by a seller, broker or agent, then you may have a legal action against these parties. Seeking out an experienced Florida real estate attorney to negotiate on your behalf (with the seller or with the real estate agent’s insurance carrier), and to file a lawsuit, if necessary, may be needed for you to get justice.

Picture of Larry Tolchinsky

Do you have questions or comments? Then please feel free to Chat with Larry in the comments below, at info@hallandalelaw.com, or (954) 458-8655. If you have a specific or personal situation, please call or email Larry because he can’t answer specific fact questions in general comments.

Misrepresentation by a Real Estate Professional: Claims for Negligent or Unintentional Misrepresentation

Posted By on July 28, 2015

Have You Been Harmed?

Negligent misrepresentation by a real estate agent or broker can also be described as an unintentional misrepresentation; where the agent or real estate broker communicates something that is not accurate or true, but they are not doing so knowingly.

In these situations, the real estate professional does not mean to deceive anyone. They’re probably not trying to pull a fast one to get through closing and get that commission check deposited in their bank account. They make a mistake. They commit an error. However, it’s a big mistake or error, not a little one and enough that the buyer wouldn’t agree to buy or the seller wouldn’t agree to sell if the facts were all out there (or the mistake or error is large enough that it has some material impact on the value of the property or causes a financial harm to one of the parties).

Gfp-florida-miami-buildings-in-miami-beach

What is Negligent Misrepresentation Under Florida Law?

In a negligent misrepresentation case, the agent or broker has failed to meet their legal duty of care in some way, and that failure has caused damage or harm to someone to whom they owe that legal duty of care. Even if the agent or broker does not have any actual knowledge that something they have said is not true, they can probably still be held liable (they can still be held liable even if they believe the information they share is completely correct at the time they speak). To be safe, a good real estate agent will investigate to see if the information they share is accurate.

The key here? Agents and brokers owe a legal duty to their customers. Listing agreements (and/or buyer representation agreements) will sometimes set forth those duties (duties are also set forth in statutory law and in case law). However, be careful, some of these agreements will include language limiting an agent or broker’s legal duty of care (which is why having a real estate lawyer review those agreements can be of value).

Mistakes are made in residential real estate sales. People are human, right? There is legal recourse for buyers and sellers who are hurt by mistakes made by real estate professionals.

Remedies for Unintentional Misrepresentation

 

1. Claims on Insurance Coverage

Florida real estate professionals are also sometimes covered by insurance policies in the event that they make mistakes that hurt someone. These are called “error and omission” policies. If someone is hurt by the actions of a real estate agent or real estate broker, (for failing to act or sharing incorrect information, etc.) then a claim can be made against that “E&O” policy to cover the costs of the mistake.

It’s important for buyers and sellers to know that there is no law that requires real estate agents or brokers to carry E&O insurance coverage. Still, given the risk that makes Florida real estate brokers liable for the mistakes of their agents, it’s considered a smart business practice to pay for these policies. Most licensed residential real estate professionals here do have E&O insurance coverage to cover them in the event they make a mistake.

2. Licensure Revocation or Discipline

In Florida, real estate brokers and  real estate agents, are required to be licensed by the State of Florida to do business here. Licenses are issued, in part, to protect sellers and buyers from mistakes and errors by the brokers and agents. This is done by requiring the professionals to take examinations proving their knowledge of real estate before they can get licensed and by requiring continuing education on a yearly basis. See, Florida Statutes 475.001 et seq. If someone gets hurt by a licensed real estate agent or broker, one action that can be taken is seeking the suspension or revocation of that license by the state.

It’s important to know that this doesn’t mean that everyone out there working in the Florida residential real estate market as a real estate agent has an active, clean license to do so. Buyers and sellers should make sure that they are working with a licensed real estate professional.

3. Rescission and Refunds

Other remedies that can be pursued under Florida law for negligent misrepresentation by a real estate agent or broker include things like:

  • Rescission of the sale (voiding the transaction); and
  • Seeking a refund of all the real estate commissions that have been paid.

An Example of Where the Buyer Wasn’t Told Everything About the Condominium By Her Broker / Agent

Here’s an example of negligent misrepresentation.  In the case of Baldoria v. Security Realty Inv., Inc., a buyer named Margaret Baldoria signed a real estate sales contract with sellers Irving and Diane Feinzig. She was buying their condo. Security Realty Investment, Inc., was acting as the buyer’s real estate broker. Mrs. Baldoria provided $10,000 as a deposit; Security Realty acted as escrow agent for that money.

However, during the closing process, Mrs. Baldoria learned that the condo unit she had agreed to buy was subject to a recreation lease. She didn’t want that. Additionally, the parking for the condo unit was less than what Mrs. Baldoria had been told she would have.

Mrs. Baldoria complained to Security, and demanded return of her deposit. As escrow agent, upon instructions from the Feinzigs, Security refused. So Mrs. Baldoria went to court, filing a lawsuit based upon negligent misrepresentation.

Specifically, the buyer sued her Florida real estate broker for negligent misrepresentation on the part of the broker and the agent that worked for the real estate brokerage. As buyer, she sought in damages (1) that her deposit be returned to her and (2) the contract for purchase of real estate rescinded.

She argued that she had been induced to sign the purchase contract by the negligent misrepresentations by her broker of what she was getting, and that she would not have agreed to buy the Miami condo if she had known about the limited parking and the recreation lease.  At trial, the jury agreed with her. (The case was later appealed but only on the issue of who paid her attorney’s fees.)

See, Baldoria v. Security Realty Inv. Inc., 581 So. 2d 189 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1991).

Victim of Negligent Misrepresentation?: A Florida Real Estate Lawyer Can Help

If you or a loved one has been the victim of a misrepresentation by a broker or agent, then you may have legal remedies available to you against your broker or agent. Seeking out the help of an experienced Florida real estate attorney to negotiate on your behalf, and to file a lawsuit if necessary, may be what is needed in order for you to get justice.  An experienced real estate lawyer will know from experience what information a real estate agent is required to share and what information a real estate agent should verify and/or investigate before sharing with an interested party.

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Do you have questions or comments? Then please feel free to Chat with Larry in the comments below, at info@hallandalelaw.com, or (954) 458-8655. If you have a specific or personal situation, please call or email Larry because he can’t answer specific fact questions in general comments.

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