Jacksonville Legal Blog
If you have recently made a real estate purchase in the State of Florida, a new home, commercial property, or land, and have incurred a problem after the transaction has been completed, you are certainly not alone. The current market conditions with higher-than-expected values, low inventories, attractive interest rates, and multiple buyers in many instances, are making for a fertile seller’s environment. Buying property can be a complicated matter involving many moving parts including sellers and their real estate agents, inspection services, mechanical services, remediation companies, title companies, real estate attorneys, property appraisals, survey companies, HOA and COA’s covenants, credit reporting, banks, mortgage companies, and other lending institutions. Each entity can play a vital part in the process, negotiation, purchase price, and final outcome of the sale. Each entity also has responsibilities and specific due-diligent duties as part of their roles that can involve both the buyer and seller. Real Estate agents are transactional brokers and are bound to be ethical, honest, and dedicated to the smooth transition of the sale. Real Estate brokerages and agents are especially vulnerable to legal issues, and the rules governing their behavior and responsibilities to both buyers and sellers are complex. Florida Real Estate agents also need to keep abreast of changes in local, state, and federal laws. Current owners who decide to put their property on the market also have legal responsibilities to the agents that serve their needs and the buyers who will ultimately acquire their property. In turn, buyers have certain responsibilities to ensure that the property they are purchasing has been professionally inspected and evaluated to secure their purchase.
So, when you are purchasing a residential or commercial property, what should be your main concerns, and what are the remedies if problems arise after the sale had been completed.
Non-Disclosure and Misrepresentation
Sellers need to perform a “Sellers Disclosure” disclosing the known condition of the property. Failing to disclose pertinent issues such as an unpermitted renovation, or easement issue could result in a legal issue. Misrepresentation, misstating facts about the features of the property or structure such as making unsubstantiated claims about the condition is one of the most common occurrences. If the seller does not provide a disclosure form, then the buyer is responsible for agreeing to a “non-disclosure form” understanding that certain conditions may exist, and it becomes the buyer’s responsibility to determine the true condition of the property.
Environmental Issues and Hazards
The seller needs to also disclose any known environmental issues and hazards, like contaminated water, use of asbestos, radon gas, or the presents of lead paint. Sellers must know how to accurately address and disclose these issues and make aware their agent and potential buyers of the hazards that might exist.
Fair housing laws that protect against discrimination also come into play when listing and selling a property. References to neighborhoods, classes, race, religion, family make-up, etc. should not be articulated to potential buyers.
False & Misleading Advertisements
Advertising properties, internet listings should be factual and honest. Any attempt to mislead a potential buyer about the condition of a property is in violation of states laws. Real Estate Brokerages and their agent are bound by a Code of Ethics to not misrepresent a property for sale.
Why You Should Choose Heekin Law, P.A.?
At Heekin Law, P.A. our lead attorneys, Geoff Heekin and Ariel Spires have over 50 years of shared legal experience dealing with all types of issues that arise from the sale of a residential or commercial property. Non-disclosure of a condition that exists and was not detected during the inspection phase but became apparent to the new owner after taking possession of the property is one of the most common occurrences. Defending sellers from unwarranted litigation and representing buyers for issues arising after the sale is all part of the general practice of real estate law. If you are having to defend against an action brought about by a buyer, or feel that you are the victim of a mistake made by a party during the transaction or of a condition of the property not disclosed we can help. We specialize in all types of transactional and litigation services for real estate and our consultations are always free and provided at no cost to you. Please give us a call at 904-355-7000 so we can review the facts in your case and give you direction on how you should proceed to seek a fair and just settlement in your case. Our office hours are very flexible and we are sensitive to the current covid-19 crisis and can provide you with, phone, in-person or online appointments.