The Role of Caveat Emptor in North Dakota Property Transactions

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An important part of property law is “caveat emptor,” which states that in many cases a buyer is unable to recover damages from a seller for defects. As a result, a buyer is responsible if he or she purchases a piece of property with defects. Courts in North Dakota tend to follow the principle of caveat emptor, but what makes the application of this law difficult is that there are many exceptions to it. This article will review some of the exceptions that exist in regards to property purchases in North Dakota. These laws can create some significant problems for home buyers who have recently purchased a house and moved in but discovered that the house actually has significant defects. In these situations, it helps to learn how disclosure laws work as well as to obtain the assistance of a seasoned property law attorney.

Failure to Disclose Law in North Dakota 

North Dakota, however, is unlike many other states in how it treats disclosure of material defects. There is not a law in the state of North Dakota that requires people selling residential real estate to disclose any known material defects with a property. Instead, the purchaser of residential real estate must thoroughly inspect conditions of real estate. The state of North Dakota does have a body of laws that regulate the licensing of real estate agents throughout the state. This law states that if the buyer of the property is not represented by a real estate brokerage firm, the seller’s real estate agent must perform job functions that are necessary for facilitating the closure of the transaction. Many buyers, however, decide to rely on the assistance of a real estate attorney.

Remedies for Failure to Disclose

North Dakota’s disclosure laws tend to prefer property sellers over buyers. As a result of this preference, the law sometimes leaves buyers with few remedies. There are, however, some potential strategies that buyers have to respond to these transactions. These potential options include the following:

  • If a seller used a real estate agent who provided false representation during the transaction, the purchaser can likely pursue an action against the real estate agent through the North Dakota Real Estate Commission.
  • A purchaser might also have a cause of action against a property seller for breach of contract if fraud occurred.
  • A third option exists as a breach of contract if the contract associated with the property transfer made certain guarantees and those guarantees were not subsequently upheld.

Speak to a Seasoned Property Law Attorney

Caveat emptor is just one of the complicated areas involved in property transfer. Due to these complex issues, many people find it important to obtain the assistance of seasoned legal counsel. A seasoned attorney can help you navigate the various issues that arise between sellers, agents, purchasers, and other parties involved with real estate transactions. Contact Dean Rindy, an experienced real estate attorney at O’Keeffe O’Brien Lyson Foss today to make sure that your property transaction proceeds in the best possible manner. Call Dean Rindy at 701-235-8000 or 877-235-8002.

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