Legal Claims For Defects With A House You Just Bought

Say you just bought a house and it turns out that there’s something wrong with it.  Maybe the roof needs to be repaired at a tune of $10,000.  You think to yourself “why did I buy a house that immediately needs a new roof?”  Then your next thought is “wait a minute, I didn’t know the house needed a new roof, otherwise I wouldn’t have bought the place or would have asked the seller for a lower price.”  So you check the seller disclosure statement and, sure enough, the seller claimed that there was nothing wrong with the roof.  So what are your legal rights and who can you assert them against?  There are a number of possibilities, depending on your situation:

1.  You can sue the seller.  Possible claims include Iowa Code 558A (which governs disclosure statements) and Iowa’s private consumer fraud statute, Iowa Code 714H.

2.  You can sue the seller’s real estate agent, who may also have been your real estate agent if there was a dual agency representation.  Real estate agents have specific duties and obligations under Iowa Code 558A.  Realtors are not covered by Iowa’s private consumer fraud statute.

3.  If it’s a construction defect, you might be able to sue the builder and builder subcontractors if the house is less than fifteen years old.

4.  If you have a home loan for the house, you may be able to sue the bank under very restricted circumstances, although such circumstances would be rare.

5.  If an appraisal was done as part of the loan process and the appraisal missed the defect or said that it did not exist, you can sue the appraisal company or the appraiser.

6.  If you had a home inspection done, and the home inspector missed the defect or said that it did not exist, you can sue the home inspection company or home inspector.

Please be aware that banks, appraisers, and home inspectors often have language in their contracts, reports, or other documents by which they may limit or try to eliminate your ability to sue them.  Such language is not always valid, depending on the circumstances.  You should consult with an attorney if such situations before deciding that you have no right to sue.

Erbe Law Firm can help with your construction defect or real estate fraud claim.   If you need a Des Moines construction law or real estate fraud attorney, contact Erbe Law Firm today.


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