Real Estate Agent Fails To Disclose Material Facts to Purchaser

Joseph O'Neill

Written by
— Updated on October 2, 2017

Real Estate Expert WitnessThis case takes place in Kentucky and involves a seller’s failure to disclose material facts about a residential property to a purchaser. The home in question had been broken into by a neighbor with a history of mental illness prior to going into contract with the purchaser. The seller failed to reveal this information to the purchaser. The home was purchased some time later – and shortly thereafter was broken into once again by the same neighbor. This neighbor has broken into the home several additional times, has been apprehended by the police, and a restraining order has been filed against him. Nevertheless, the purchaser no longer feels comfortable in the home as he was frightened and distraught by the trespasser. He contends that the information pertaining to the previous breaking / entering incident should have been disclosed by the seller prior to purchasing the property.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. Have you ever served as an expert witness on a case involving a sellers failure to disclose material information about a residential property? If so, please explain.
  • 2. Do you believe information pertaining to a breaking / entering / burglary of a property is material and must be revealed to purchasers, prior to going into contract, on a significant residential property - given the fact that the incident occurred only weeks before the property went into contract?
  • 3. Did the seller have an obligation to follow up with police / authorities pertaining to the incident, to further confirm that the incident was one of random behavior and not likely the result of stalker tendency?

Expert Witness Response E-009289

This is a very unique case that I would be happy to opine on. Given the details surrounding the break-in (mental illness of the woman, the reason she broke in, proximity to its contract date), this information probably should have been revealed to the purchasers. The ethics are somewhat murky here, but I could offer my opinion of what I would do, having been a real estate broker for over 20 years, owning my own brokerage firm, and serving as director of the National Association of Realtors and as former president of the NJ Association of Realtors. I’d be happy to discuss more specific details with the attorney, and look forward to working on this case.

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