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What is caveat emptor? Kiritsis Law Group 212 922 0005

May 13, 2021

By: John Kiritsis, Esq., CPA, MBA, MS, JD, LL.M

It means buyer beware. Generally, it refers to the legal notion that a real property and conduct his own due diligence on whether, the real property is satisfactory to his demands. Typically, the seller is free from any obligations to disclose defects: however, seller cannot give misrepresentation(s) to buyer and/or actively conceal a defect the seller knows. Given the information asymmetry, between a buyer with a little information and a seller with more information, many jurisdictions have attempted to level the playing field by applying on real estate contracts an implied warranty of fitness for a particular  purpose. However, it should be noted that such warranty may be applied to only certain transactions, like the sale of new residential houses between a builder and buyer. Also, common law often prohibits sellers from making fraudulent material misrepresentations to buyers, about latent defects on the property. A practical argument in favor of the caveat emptor doctrine, is that without it, it will open the litigation floodgates, since every new buyer will have little to lose by suing the previous seller over a perceived undisclosed defect; also, it will create an incentive for new buyers to NOT do their due diligence, because if they discover a defect, then they cannot sue later on.

 

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