Unintentional listing errors can invite lawsuits

Mistakes in listings are no laughing matter. (Flickr photo by premasagar)

Like any typo, errors in broker descriptions of their listings can be funny.

In a good syndicated column, Lew Sichelman quotes a couple of them, namely:

“Three bedroom, one badroom”

“Open Hose with Cheese and Wine”

“First Peeview Sunday”

But some mistakes can be dangerous — for example, transposing numbers in a property’s square footage or using outdated property tax amounts or other costs.

Intentional misrepresentation, which invariably prompts me to draft a rant, is worse; misstating the number of true bedrooms or overstating the age of improvements are infractions that come to mind.

Whether witting, however, the errors can unleash lawsuits that are going to slim a broker’s wallet and consume time devoted to a legal battle, even if the broker wins.

Sellers are well advised to review the listing and correct any errors or omissions such as property defects that they detect.

As for buyers, Sichelman likes the suggestion of Pennsylvania lawyer James Goldsmith to arm themselves with a clause in the sales contract stating that the decision to purchase the property is based on specific seller representations — such as square footage — which the seller represents and warrants to be accurate.

It might be a good idea, he continues, to add this sentence: “This warranty to survive settlement.”

Not being a lawyer, I am not sure that such language is necessary in New York State, how likely lawyers here would take to the idea, or how great is the chance that sellers would agree to it.

I’d appreciate any professional feedback on the tactic.

Tomorrow: Weekly Roundup

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Malcolm Carter
Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker
Senior Vice President
Charles Rutenberg Realty
127 E. 56th Street
New York, NY 10022

M: 347-886-0248
F: 347-438-3201

Web site


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