I am under contract for a new home and the builder misrepresented the lot I purchased. Do I have legal standing?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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I am under contract for a new home and the builder misrepresented the lot I purchased. Do I have legal standing?

I was told i was purchasing a flat rectangular lot at the time I signed the contract in February and put down a 6000 deposit. At my ground breaking end of August, I find out that there is a significant hill 25 feet tall, my property line is 16 feet up the hill, which has reduced the usuable flat backyard to about 19 feet from my back porch. Though the description of the lot was not included in the contract, they have since apologized over email and voicemail for the mistake but are only offering about a $1000 upgrade for this mistake. I am concerned about drainage they say there are swells along the house to push water to the street drains and upset that they have reduced the value of the lot I thought I was purchasing and feel very much like they need to add value back to the house for their mistake. Do I have legitimate grounds?

Asked on September 13, 2018 under Real Estate Law, North Carolina


M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Contract law applies here and generally speaking, you agree to whatever is written in the contract once you sign it.  Oral representations - parole evidence - is generally excluded in a suit.  However, this could go in many directions.  First, there was a misrepresentation and possibly fraud in the inducement to contract and leaving a lot description out of a contract can be material.  Why, though, did you not insist on that and did your lawyer miss it?  I think that you have a shot here of getting something back and I would be more concerned about the drainage on the property if it slopes back toward the house.  Water can do a tremendous amount of damage.  Perhaps instead of upgrades you can negotiate them grading the property and installing drainage lines.  I would speak with your lawyer.  Good luck. 

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