Buying or Selling a Home/Misrepresentation?


I recently purchased a townhome with a single car garage. The garage length is only 15 feet long and it was never disclosed that the garage would not fit a standard car. I believe that both the seller and her agent were deceptive and hoping that it would go unnoticed, which it did. The inspector did not inspect much of the garage due to the seller's belongings taking up most of the space. I would not have purchased this home had I realized I wouldn't be able to fit my own car in the garage. Do I have a case against the seller and/or her agent for misrepresentation? And is this something the inspector should have noted?

Hello Michelle - Agency laws are different in each state however nationally the seller's responsibility is to disclose latent defects or known conditions of the home. The Seller/listing agent must also refrain from 'puffing' or misrepresenting the property and/or its features and amenities. If the seller marketed the home as a single 'car' garage there may be an issue, however indicating that there is a 'garage' does not necessarily mean a car will fit in it. Liability may also fall with your agent in the event you told your agent you wanted a home with a one car garage, your agent/broker may also share in some liability. If your agent searched for properties including a single car garage at your request, and failed to confirm the garage would fit a 'car', then failure to have vetted that information may constitute, depending on your state's agency laws, a violation of their duty as your representative. Of course, a property inspector would probably not be required to verify the size of the garage as their duty is to verify working and non-working mechanical items, and some condition issues of the property. The responsibility would fall upon, the seller for disclosure or misrepresentation, the listing agent for misrepresentation, your agent for a lack of keeping your best interests at the foremost of their responsibility, and of course yourself. I would begin seeking advice from your agent and their supervisor (called a designated broker here in AZ). First, if you told them you wanted a one car garage and park your car inside, then they have some responsibility/liability. If you did not specifically give your agent the instruction that you desired to park inside the garage, then your agent probably has performed properly. Next, I would recommend asking your agent and their broker to review the listing and disclosure information to see if the seller indicated 'anywhere' where the garage is a one car garage, or identifies that a buyer can 'park' in the garage, if so, there is probable misrepresentation on the seller or listing broker's part. Finally, if there is no misrepresentation, the last part of the liability chain is whether you verified the desire to park in the garage, when you had not shared that desire within the context of property criteria shared with your agent. If any of the above duties of disclosure, misrepresentation or lack of fiduciary service exists, and you cannot get anywhere with your agent or their broker, I recommend turning to a local TV advocate. These usually are names things like "Turn To TV10" or "Channel 12 on Your Side" or the like. The investigative reporters will help you get one of these responsible parties to communicate with you and also help you with the possible outcome. Of course, the news must be newsworthy and accurate. Finally, you can always contact the real estate board or association of REALTORS for help determining whether the agents/brokers involved may have violated the National Association of REALTORS Code of Ethics. This Code can be found online using a Google search using those terms. This code is what every REALTOR must pledge to uphold and we all take this very seriously. I hope this answers your question and directs you to achieve the right result. Please reply if you need any additional information. I apologize for the delay in my reply. Also, remember I am not an attorney so this not legal advice, rather it is to be considered information that any experienced REALTOR should be able to provide. Thank you - Todd

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National Association of Realtors Code of Ethics and Professional Standards * Contract Questions: Arizona Real Estate Purchase Contract, Exclusive Buyer Broker Contracts, Listing Contracts and associated contract documentation (addenda) as it relates to boilerplate, covenants, contingencies, procedures and procedures. * ARMLS Arizona Regional Multiple Listing questions * Real Estate Professional Standards and Practices, Ethics, Obligations, Duties * Agency relationships in Arizona, Procurring Cause * Questions typicaly arising during the listing period * Questions typically arising during the escrow period * Questions about working with a real estate agent/REALTOR * Questions Related to New Home Builders


National Association of REALTORS Board of Director (2011, 2012) Arizona Real Estate Salesperson License (1991-1995), Arizona Real Estate Brokers License (1995-Present), Arizona Association of REALTORS Board of Directors (2008-2013), Arizona Association of REALTORS Professional Standards Committee (2008-2012), AAR Certified NAR Code of Ethics and Professional Standards Instructor, Southeast Valley Regional Association of REALTORS President (2012) Southeast Valley Regional Association of REALTORS Board of Directors (2008-2013), Southeast Valley Regional Association of REALTORS Grievance Committee Chairperson (1998-2007), Southeast Valley Regional Association of REALTORS Bylaws Committee (2008-2010), Southeast Valley Regional Association of REALTORS Education Committee (2007-09), Arizona Association of REALTORS Forms Committee - Residential Purchase Contract (2005), Arizona Association of REALTORS Forms Committee - Residential Rental Agreement (2008), Arizona Association of REALTORS Forms Committee - Buyer Broker Agreement (2009), Arizona Association of REALTORS Presidents Advisory Group, Road to Professionalism (2009), Arizona Association of REALTORS GRI Curriculum Review Committee (2009), Arizona Department of Real Estate, Commissioner's Education Advisory Group Sub-Panel B (2010) Arizona Department of Real Estate, Commissioner's Statute and License Review Committee (2007)

National Association of REALTORS, Arizona Association of REALTORS, Arizona Real Estate Educators Association (AZREEA), Arizona Regional Multiple Listing System (ARMLS), American Notary Association, Southeast Valley Regional Association of REALTORS (SEVRAR), Southeast Valley Regional Association of REALTORS Women's Council of REALTORS (2010-Present), Phoenix Association of REALTORS (1994-2000, 2005-2009), Scottsdale Association of REALTORS (1994-2000, 2005-2009), Maricopa/Glendale Association of REALTORS (1994-2000, 2005-2009),

"Real Estate in 2008"- Lifebushido Publishing (Contributory Author), Southeast Valley Regional Association of REALTORS "SEVRAR Magazine", Internet Crusade, RealTown ListServe,, Active Rain

- Certified NAR Code of Ethics and Professional Standards Instructor, Graduate REALTOR Institute (1993), Certified Negotiation Expert (CNE), Over 100 Hours of annual real estate continuing education, Annual Ethics and Professional Standards Development Workshops as required by the National Association of REALTORS, Approx. 36 hours of NAR Code of Ethics training annually, Numerous IDW, Seminars and Train the Trainer programs, Business Management Degree - 1981

Awards and Honors
2009 REALTOR of the Year Award, Southeast Valley Regional Association of REALTORS (10,000+ Members), Double Platinum Production Award ($45,000,000 Sales Volume)- Keller Williams Realty Int'l (2001), Top 15 Sales Production Keller Williams Realty International (2001), Top 5 Sales Producation Keller Williams Realty Southwest Region (2001), Top Recruiter Award - Keller Williams Realty Int'l, SW Region (2002), Who's Who in U.S. Executive (1983), Who's Who in U.S. Real Estate Professionals (2007)

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