Virginia Real Estate Fraud & Caveat Emptor

Navigating Real Estate Contracts and Real Estate Fraud in Northern Virginia

A Guide by Experts in NVAR Purchase and Sale Contracts

If you’re contemplating buying or selling used residential real estate in Virginia, then you have come to the right firm. Are you a buyer or seller who has encountered any of the following situations?

  • Hidden foundation defects, covered up by drywall and paint.
  • Concealed mold issues masked by fresh paint, discovered only after the sale.
  • Undisclosed termite infestation revealed post-purchase.
  • Leaky roof causing water damage, discovered after the transaction.

These are just a few examples of the pitfalls that buyers and sellers often face in Virginia’s used residential real estate market. For an in-depth analysis, particularly on Caveat Emptor and the Virginia Residential Property Disclosure Act (Va. Code ยง 55.1-700 et seq.), please refer to our comprehensive blog.

Caveat Emptor: The Buyer Beware Principle in Real Estate Contracts

Virginia operates under the Caveat Emptor or “buyer beware” principle. This places the onus on the buyer to conduct a thorough inspection of the property. Unless the seller engages in fraud or concealment, the buyer is generally responsible for any defects discovered post-settlement. In Virginia, sellers usually have no obligation to disclose known or discoverable defects, particularly when the property is sold “AS IS.”

Due Diligence and Real Estate Fraud: Legal Standards in Virginia

The Virginia Supreme Court defines due diligence for buyers as a measure of prudence and activity expected from a reasonable person under specific circumstances. Sellers, on the other hand, are not empowered to misrepresent the property’s condition or conceal latent defects. In the landmark case of Armentrout v. French, the court held that sellers must not divert buyers from making prudent inquiries and examinations.

Buyer Due Diligence vs Seller Fraud: The Core of Real Estate Fraud Cases

Most real estate fraud cases in Virginia hinge on the balance between buyer due diligence and the seller’s duty to disclose material latent defects. The outcome often depends on the specific facts of each case.

Consult Fox and Moghul for Expertise in NVAR Purchase and Sale Contracts

For a detailed case analysis, contact us at Fox and Moghul to set up a consultation. Please have the following documents ready for your consult:

  • NVAR Residential Sales Contract
  • Exclusive Right to Represent Agreement (if you’re represented by a real estate salesperson)
  • Home Inspection and other inspection reports, if available
  • Settlement Documents, including closing disclosure

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