If the square foot measurement of our house was incorrectly listedso we ended up overpaying for it, what can we do?

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If the square foot measurement of our house was incorrectly listedso we ended up overpaying for it, what can we do?

As we prepared to sell our house, we discovered a discrepancy on square footage. The builder had sold us a home for $359,900 and listed it at 2942. We found out it’s only 2776. At 2942 it was $122 a sq. ft. Truly at 2776, it is $128 a square foot. Can we sue the builder for listing it erroneously? We should have paid about $338,000 for $122 a square foot home if it’s really 2776? Tax appraisal office also has been charging us taxes on a false measure they claimed was 3200. How do we tackle this? We are both active duty Army and must move in June. Bought the house in 06/07.

Asked on April 23, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Texas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Two different issues:

First, you could *try* to sue for damages or compensation for fraud, but it will be an uphill battle for three reasons: 1) fraud depends on deliberate, knowing misrepresentation, not a mistake, so you have to show there was intetinoal deceit; 2) if you had a chance to visit, view, inspect, etc. the home, yoiu *knew* what you were buying--you saw it's size, dimensions, layout, etc., and given that you probably couldn't make out that you "relied" on the representation as to its size (and reliance is another requirement for fraud); and 3) there are no set prices for homes, so there's no reason a 2776 sq ft home couldn't be listed at $359k--therefore it's hard to show actual damages or loss.

Second issue: if you are listed incorrectly on the tax roles, you should be able to appeal that. There are attorneys who specialize in tax appeals; best would be to retain one and let him or her handle it.


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