Should I pursue legal action after buying a house, where sellers apparently lied to hide a known defect?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Should I pursue legal action after buying a house, where sellers apparently lied to hide a known defect?

I bought a house and found a moderately serious plumbing defect within a
month. Before purchase I had several inspections, none of which found the
problem. The sellers did not disclose the problem, and I understand they
were not obliged to. However, they claimed in an official document that the
pipe in question was replaced in 2014, and two plumbers have told me that
this is certainly false. I have two quotes for the repair work, ranging
2500-7000, but the cost may increase unpredictably depending on what is
found. Should I pursue any legal action? Should I approach the sellers first?

Asked on March 21, 2017 under Real Estate Law, Texas


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

You apparently have some reasonable or reliable evidence that the seller's lied: their statement that the pipe was 2 years old (or less) clashes with the information from two plumbers that it is older than that. An affirmative lie (something actively stated or written) or misrepresentation can constitute fraud; and fraud can provide a basis for recovering compensation, such as the cost to correct the problem. While we cannot at this stage, based on what you write, predict the odds of you winning, you have stated what appears to be a "colorable," or plausible, case: you could sue with at least some chance or expectation of winning, if the plumbers will continue to state that based on their experience, the pipe is older than was represented or told to you. (You'd have to call the plumbers to testify at trial, if you sued and it went all the way to trial.) As to whether you should approach the seller first or sue first, that depends on your sense of them as people--do you think you can negotiate or work matters out with them, or do you think you'll have to sue? If you think that settlement discussions would be fruitless, you probably should immediately file the lawsuit.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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