Seattle and Tacoma Real Estate Misrepresentation Attorneys
When purchasing real estate, you may trust your agent but what about the other party’s representative? Are they open and honest? Working with a qualified real estate attorney can alleviate some concerns about the contract, but if you have already bought the property, you could still need legal help if something goes wrong.
If you believe the other party or their agent did not tell you the full truth about your purchase, you should turn to the Seattle and Tacoma real estate misrepresentation attorneys at Dickson Frohlich Phillips Burgess. From false statements to fraud, we have experience handling many cases to secure compensation for losses through a legal claim.
What Is Misrepresentation in a Real Estate Transaction?
Real estate transactions can be complicated enough when all parties play by the rules. These deals can become substantially more complex if one of the parties negligently or intentionally makes some type of misrepresentation regarding the property in question.
A misrepresentation may be a false statement or omission that is meant to induce another party to enter a contract. A misrepresentation in real estate contracts can seriously affect the unknowing party. Whether the statement is innocent, negligent, or fraudulent, these falsehoods can affect the market value of a property, causing the buyer to get less than what they expected.
An agent may overstate the square footage, make unfounded statements about the quality or safety of the surrounding properties, or outright lie about the presence of hazardous conditions such as black mold. These are examples of misrepresentation and must be met with an aggressive legal response.
Three Types of Misrepresentation in Real Estate
There has been a recent uptick in the number of people becoming real estate agents. In 2021, as many as 156,000 new agents came into the business, attracted by a work-from-home option during the COVID-19 pandemic and spikes in property prices around the country. The rush to join a booming industry often results in less experienced or principled agents than those who have been doing the work for years.
Misrepresentation may arise from a lack of exposure to complicated contracts and deals, or it can stem from unethical business practices in pursuing a big commission. Discussing your concerns with a skilled Seattle and Tacoma real estate misrepresentation lawyer from Dickson Frohlich Phillips Burgess will allow us to determine which kind of misrepresentation you may have suffered.
Most instances of misrepresentation are not intentional and can sometimes be traced to a real estate agent receiving incorrect information. Most agents and brokers perform the proper due diligence for each transaction, so they convey what they believe is the truth.
Ensuring all agents perform the required title searches and other documentation reviews can avoid many issues. Our real estate attorneys can frequently identify and resolve these scenarios before the deal is concluded.
An innocent misrepresentation is usually treated as a civil issue where the law is concerned. No one has committed a crime, and the standard response is to order the agent and seller to make the situation right with the buyer. This may include refunding some or all of the purchase price or coming to some other mutually satisfactory agreement between the parties.
A negligent misrepresentation case involves a lack of care and attention to detail on the part of someone in the transaction, usually an agent. They may make an unintentionally false claim about the property or in a contract. This can result when a seller is not forthcoming on negative aspects of the property, such as termite damage or a disguised sinkhole.
This differs from an innocent misrepresentation claim in that the selling agent should have investigated the property to ensure they stated the truth in the listing description and legal contracts. Determining who is responsible for negligent misrepresentation can be challenging. Still, our attorneys can evaluate your situation and interpret real estate law appropriately for your case.
Negligent misrepresentation is usually punished by civil action, such as a lawsuit. Agents and brokers found guilty of negligence may also face fines or demotions by their employers.
When one party makes a false claim about a property or contract with the knowledge that it is untrue, this is fraudulent misrepresentation. The market in Washington State is extremely competitive, and residential and commercial agents are eager to make quick sales for high commissions. Greed or lack of integrity may lead them to engage in underhanded tactics.
Fraudulent misrepresentation could lead to physical harm, loss of value for the property, or other damage to the affected party. Many individuals or companies could be held liable, from the seller to their agent to the listing company. Untangling the details and knowing who to file a claim against requires knowledgeable real estate misrepresentation attorneys in Seattle and Tacoma.
When fraud is proven, those responsible may face criminal and civil penalties.
Proving Misrepresentation in Seattle and Tacoma
Securing financial restitution for the damages you suffer from a real estate misrepresentation requires overcoming certain legal barriers. Like demonstrating negligence in a personal injury claim, you must collect and present evidence that proves the following conditions:
- The defendant made a representation.
- The representation was false.
- When the representation was made, the defendant knew it was false or recklessly made the representation without knowledge of its truth.
- The representation was made with the intention that you, as the plaintiff, would rely on it.
- You relied on the false representation.
- You experienced harm as a result of relying on the false representation.
As the plaintiff, you and your real estate attorney must prove all six of these criteria. However, the defendant can present evidence against your claim but does not need to disprove all six conditions.
To develop a compelling case, your lawyer will review all the documentation and perform a search for any other materials showing that your claim is valid. They may hire experts or call witnesses to testify on your behalf. They may also use a private property inspector or contact local construction companies to obtain records showing the representation was false.
Preventing Real Estate Misrepresentation in Washington State
Fixing a problem that has already occurred is frustrating and can be expensive. The best advice is to prevent the issue from happening in the first place. This holds for avoiding real estate misrepresentation claims.
Hiring a property inspector was standard practice for decades, and no sensible buyer would have purchased without one. However, recent changes in the real estate market have pushed buyers and agents to skip many essential steps in the buying process. Inspections and thorough title searches have been two victims of this rush to complete a sale before someone else buys the property.
You can prevent misrepresentation of any kind by ensuring that your agent has double-checked the information from the seller. Other actions to take include:
- Reading all materials closely before signing or putting in a bid.
- Hiring a competent real estate attorney to review all contracts and documents for hidden language or conditions.
- Keeping yourself informed of Washington’s legal requirements for real estate sales so you know your rights and obligations.
While it is valuable to only work with a real estate agent you have come to trust, you should still approach every transaction rationally and carefully. Not everyone maintains the same standards and principles you probably do, and you should not have to pay for their lack of care.
Additionally, investing in the assistance of a qualified Seattle and Tacoma real estate lawyer can help you catch problems before they cost you.
Why Use Dickson Frohlich Phillips Burgess for Your Misrepresentation Case?
With the strong real estate market, you can choose a law firm to represent your interests in a transaction gone wrong. However, just because a firm claims to handle real estate misrepresentation cases does not mean they have the background and skill to tackle them successfully.
Dickson Frohlich Phillips Burgess has served Seattle and Tacoma community businesses and individuals for over 25 years. We are a trusted advisor and force for justice, providing our clients with powerful legal guidance. Whether the claim is large or small, we devote our full time and attention to ensuring you can rest easy when you bring your case to us.
We offer over 100 years of combined legal experience in multiple legal disciplines. We are deeply familiar with the law and can adapt our approach to create a customized strategy for each client’s needs. Our team is committed to protecting your financial status and future from intentional or unintentional damage.
Hire the Seattle and Tacoma Real Estate Misrepresentation Attorneys of Dickson Frohlich Phillips Burgess Today
Locating false statements, regardless of intention, before a sale can head off later legal issues after a real estate transaction. If the deal is already done when you discover a problem, it is still never too late to contact Dickson Frohlich Phillips Burgess for help.
Our Seattle and Tacoma real estate misrepresentation attorneys pride themselves on providing a level of service and expertise beyond your expectations. We strive to build strong relationships that bring clients back over and over when they need superior legal guidance.
No matter where you are in a real estate transaction, contact our office to discuss your options and learn more about how to protect your rights. Reach out to us to schedule a consultation today with our online form or by calling our offices: Seattle at (206) 621-1110; Tacoma at (253) 572-1000, or Olympia at (360) 742-3500.
I highly recommend Dickson Frohlich Phillips Burgess and if I ever need a lawyer again they will be my first call.
- Jeremy H.
I can’t even tell you how much I appreciate this firm! These guys helped me through one of the most challenging legal situations I’ve faced in my life. Their skill and expertise literally saved my business. I’ve dealt with other counsel in the past but the Dickson firm was by far the most competent and tactful counsel I’ve ever received. I would recommend this group to anyone!
- Keith D.
It’s a pleasure to work with the guys at Dickson Frohlich Phillips Burgess. One of the first things that stood out to me was how down to earth and friendly everyone at the firm is. I would definitely recommend them.