Sacramento Real Estate Attorney

Real estate transactions or subsequent disputes often require the services of a skilled real estate attorney. Whether you are the buyer, seller, tenant, landlord, agent, or broker, a Sacramento real estate lawyer can help you assert your legal rights in litigation or protect your interests in a real estate transaction. If you need to contact a local real estate attorney call Sacramento Law Group at (916) 596-1018.

Buyer: If you are the buyer in a real estate transaction a real estate lawyer will evaluate the sale to identify problems and implement solutions. According to a 2005 survey by the American Land Title Association, title problems were found in 36 percent of all residential real estate transactions. By involving a real estate attorney these title defects may be identified and appropriate action taken, such as obtaining releases for liens or fixing recording errors.

Real estate attorneys can assist buyers and sellers in real estate transactions by reviewing and preparing the purchase agreement and closing documents; reviewing the abstract of title, title insurance, and performing a title search to ensure clear title; representing the client at closing; reviewing mortgage documents and supervising transfer of title; record real property deeds; addressing transaction issues and proposing remedies.

Seller: If you are the seller in a real estate transaction you need to protect yourself from future liability while ensuring that the sale proceeds smoothly. A real estate lawyer can help you by negotiating and drafting the purchase and sale agreement, negotiating contingencies of the sale, and representing you at closing.

Sacramento Real Estate Law

Many defrauded buyers and defendant sellers turn to Sacramento real estate lawyers when disputes arise after a sale. Buyers often claim fraud in that the seller or real estate agent failed to disclose a material fact as required by law. Sellers likewise must defend themselves against these nondisclosure claims. Whether you are the buyer or a seller requiring real estate litigation services, contact Sacramento Law Group at (916) 596-1018 to be connected with a real estate litigation attorney.

Fraud & Nondisclosure

Real estate fraud occurs not only when a seller makes a false statement to a buyer, but also when the seller, broker, or agent fails to disclose a material fact. In practice, many cases involving real estate fraud involve the failure to make the required disclosures.

California Civil Code Section 1102-1102.17 titled “Disclosures Upon Transfer of Residential Property” require sellers to provide buyers with a written transfer disclosure statement in the form required by the statute. The form identifies many specific conditions that must be disclosed, but its general effect is to mandate the disclosure of material conditions (things that have a considerable effect on market value).

Specific conditions that must be disclosed by the seller include identifying fixtures, appliances, improvements, and property features; disclosing any defects in improvements; and disclosing additions, alterations, or repairs made in violation of building codes or without permits. Other conditions which must be disclosed by the seller include the existence of fill on the property, soil problems such as settling, drainage problems and flooding, and any significant damage to the property from fire, earthquake, flood, or landslide.

“As Is” Does Not Relieve The Seller of Liability

Some sellers and agents think that by including an “as is” clause the seller is relieved from liability for not disclosing a material condition unknown to the buyer. In reality, an “as is” clause only means that the buyer is taking the property in the condition that is observable to him; it does not mean that the seller can fail to disclose a material fact unknown to the buyer. Some sellers of distressed properties think that by including an “as is” clause and discounting the price, the buyer has economically assumed the risk in the purchase, thereby relieving the seller of the duty to disclose material facts. This common belief among sellers is simply wrong. Even the seller of a distressed property who includes an “as is” clause in the sale contract must disclose material facts unknown to the buyer or face liability for nondisclosure.

Damages for Real Estate Fraud

Real estate fraud can be committed by the seller, broker, or agent. When the buyer has been defrauded he has two general options for damages after a successful action for real estate fraud: (1) seek damages or rescission of the contract or (2) use the seller’s fraud as a defense for not going through with the obligations under the sales contract.

Civil Code Section 3343 is designed to make the defrauded buyer whole by restoring to the buyer what he lost due to the fraud. To satisfy that policy Section 3343 allows a defrauded buyer to recover the difference between the fair market value of the subject property and the price paid by the buyer. For instance, if the buyer paid $100,000 for real estate that was only worth $70,000 due to the seller’s fraud, the buyer would be able to recover the $30,000 difference in value.

Apart from the general difference-in-value damages, victims of real estate fraud are also entitled to various damages designed to make them whole again. For instance, victims of real estate fraud are entitled to recovery of amounts expended in reliance upon the fraud; recovery of amounts to compensate for loss of use or enjoyment of the property due to the fraud; and where the buyer has been induced to sell the property as a result of the fraud, the recovery of lost profits or other gains which would have been received had the buyer retained the property.

To receive assistance in contacting a qualified real estate lawyer contact Sacramento Law Group at (916) 596-1018.

Proving Real Estate Fraud

No matter what form of damages the buyer will seek, 5 basic elements as articulated in South Tahoe Gas Co. v. Hofmann Land Improvement Co. must be shown by the buyer:

(1) a false representation or concealment of a material fact (or, in some cases, an opinion) susceptible of knowledge, (2) made with knowledge of its falsity or without sufficient knowledge on the subject to warrant a representation, (3) with the intent to induce the person to whom it is made to act upon it; and such person must (4) act in reliance upon the representation (5) to his damage.

By Adam Garcia