Suing Real Estate Agent for Misrepresentation in Small Claims Court
Your house is likely the most expensive purchase that you will ever make. Most real estate transactions go smoothly, but in rare cases, buyers may feel duped if their realtor falsely represented the property in some way. This can be grounds for suing your real estate agent for misrepresentation.
There are three types of real estate misrepresentation: innocent, negligent, and fraudulent.
|Innocent Misrepresentation||An innocent misrepresentation is typically unintentional and causes little to no harm. Often, these issues walk a fine line between a lawsuit and a situation that you may simply have to live with.|
|Negligent Misrepresentation||A negligent misrepresentation occurs when the realtor makes a false statement or fails to disclose an issue out of ignorance. In other words, they didn't know about an issue, but they should have.|
|Fraudulent Misrepresentation||A fraudulent misrepresentation is an intentional falsification, often meant to cover something up. For example, the realtor explicitly told you there were "no pest issues" when they actually knew about an existing termite problem.|
In a strong case, the misrepresentation should involve a "material fact" about the property. In real estate, a material fact is anything that would affect at least one of the following:
- The value of the property
- Your decision to purchase the property
- How much you would be willing to pay for it
However, you can't sue a real estate agent for a difference of opinion. Keep in mind that phrases like "good condition," "great neighborhood schools," and "majestic views" are highly subjective.
Top Reasons to File a Lawsuit Against a Real Estate Agent for Misrepresentation
Sue a Real Estate Agent for Failure to Disclose a Property Defect
One of the top reasons that real estate agents are sued is the failure to disclose defects such as:
- Foundation problems
- Roof issues
- Termite and other pest infestations
- Lead pipes or paint
- Faulty electrical wiring
Some of these issues can pose a safety hazard and require expensive repairs or renovations.
Sue a Realtor for Failure to Disclose an Easement
An easement is when someone else has the legal right to cross or access your land. Oftentimes, an easement is in place so that one parcel of land can access the closest public road. For example, your neighbor's driveway may pass through your property.
Sometimes, an easement has been in place for decades and will not cause any inconvenience. In other cases, an easement can affect how you use and enjoy your land. Either way, real estate agents have a duty to disclose them.
How to File a Lawsuit Against a Real Estate Agent for Misrepresentation By Yourself
It can take a lot of work to file a lawsuit on your own.
- First, you need to find out what the small claims court dollar limit is for your state. In some states, it's as low as $2,500. For real estate issues, that isn't a lot of money. If your damages are greater than your state's limit, then you'll want to contact a real estate attorney for help.
- If small claims court is the route you want to take, you must weigh the pros and cons of sending a demand letter. This letter is addressed to the real estate agent and lays out your issues in black and white. A demand letter gives the agent a chance to make amends on their own, and notifies them of your intent to sue. In some jurisdictions, a demand letter may be required.
- Next, you’ll need to gather any evidence to back up your claim. This may include closing documents, emails, texts, voicemail messages, photos, and videos.
- Then you'll need to visit your local clerk of court office. The staff there can let you know what forms you need to fill out to start your legal case.
- Next, you'll need to make arrangements to have these forms served to the real estate agent. Each jurisdiction has its own requirements for serving a court document to an individual. The clerk of court may know what options are available to you.
- Lastly, you'll need to prepare for your upcoming court dates.
Potential Issues With Filing a Lawsuit by Yourself
The process of suing your realtor in small claims court may be easier said than done. You might have to take a day off of work to visit the clerk of court's office. Or, you could hit a snag when trying to serve the legal papers to your real estate agent.
While the clerk of court can guide you in the right direction, they cannot provide any legal advice. One small typo or error could make your paperwork, or even your entire case, invalid. You may find that you will save time and money by working with a professional.
How to Sue a Real Estate Agent for Misrepresentation With DoNotPay
DoNotPay gives you the flexibility to file on your terms, while still receiving professional guidance. When you're ready to get started on your small claims case, just follow these easy steps.
- Log in to DoNotPay from the app or your web browser. Then select the "Sue Now” product.
- Enter the dollar amount that your real estate agent owes you.
- Select whether you want to serve a demand letter, or head right to the court filing forms.
- Describe the reason for the lawsuit and be ready to submit any applicable details, including photo proof.
It's just that easy! You can do the whole process from the comfort of your home. DoNotPay will then generate a demand letter or the court filing forms for you. And, you won't have to make a separate trip to the post office. We'll even mail a copy of your demand letter to your real estate agent.
What Else Can DoNotPay Help With?
DoNotPay makes it easy to receive the help and guidance you need to sue an individual or company without hiring an attorney. Check out some other companies that people like you have successfully won a case against with the help of DoNotPay: