Another reason why having the right Lawyer and Broker is Critical when Buying Real Estate

The building in Brooklyn was beautiful. It commanded a hefty price - 3.2 million dollars. The people buying this property hired a buyer's agent and presumably, hired a real estate lawyer to handle the closing. In a transaction involving this amount of money, one would think that the agent and lawyer would be very careful to make sure there were no hidden problems - little things like say, an easement forever prohibiting the owner from making any changes to the building's facade without the express written consent of the National Architectural Trust, Inc. Unfortunately, either the agent, the lawyer, or both missed this little detail and when it came the purchaser's attention later on, one would imagine that the purchaser was none too happy.

Well off to Court went the purchaser and who was sued for among other things fraud and negligent misrepresentation? The sellers, the sellers' agents and the buyer's agent. Fortunately for the sellers' agents, the lawsuit did not succeed because of caveat emptor - buyer beware.

The Appellate Division, Second Department reminded the parties that:
New York adheres to the doctrine of caveat emptor and imposes no duty on the seller or the seller's agent to disclose any information concerning the premises when the parties deal at arm's length, unless there is some conduct on the part of the seller or the seller's agent which constitutes active concealment"... "Mere silence on the part of the seller, without some affirmative act of deception, is not actionable as fraud"

Schottland v Brown Harris Stevens Brooklyn, LLC

The Court explained that the sellers and their agents had no duty under the doctrine of caveat emptor to disclose the easement. The easement was recorded and was a matter of public record. The sellers and their agents could not be liable for their failure to disclose the easement. The buyers' agent however, was not dismissed from the case.

This is a lawsuit that would never have happened had the purchaser retained the right agent and real estate lawyer in the transaction. The existence of the easement should have come to the attention of one or both of these individuals before the closing! Had the proper homework been done, the purchaser would have been told about the easement and the necessary reduction in the purchase price been negotiated.

Caveat Emptor!

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information
  • Super Lawyers | Top 25 | Westchester County
  • Avvo Badge
  • Super Lawyers
  • AAJ Badge
  • NYSBA Badge
  • TFB Badge
  • Avvo Badge
  • BBB Badge
  • Super Lawyer
  • Car Lawyer Badge
  • Preeminent Badge
  • Av Badge
  • AV Rating Badge

Contact Us

Email Us For A Response

Contact The Firm

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.


Privacy Policy

White Plains Office
188 East Post Road
Suite 401
White Plains, NY 10601

Phone: 914-290-4403
White Plains Law Office Map

New City Office
369 South Main Street
New City, NY 10956

Phone: 914-290-4403
Map & Directions

Bronx Office
2622 East Tremont Ave
Ste 880
Bronx, NY 10461

Phone: 914-290-4403
Map & Directions