Anyone Know Anything About Legal Rights After Buying a House???

Updated on December 28, 2013
R.U. asks from South Weymouth, MA
26 answers

I have already contacted a Lawyer, who basically said we have no rights, But want to know if I should call another one. So here is the situation, My husband and I relocated to a new area this past summer. We thought we had found the perfect realtor. She was so wonderful, and seemed to care so much about helping us, as we knew nothing about the area except it was a very nice town with top rated schools. We signed a contract with her. We looked at a bunch of houses. We were interested in one, which was also her listing, BUT we completely thought where she was our realtor she was also working for us. We made an offer it was excepted. Prior to making the offer we had asked multiple times about a huge piece of farm land behind the house that was up for sale and sold, and what was going in there. She replied she was not sure, it was not known information. We were not very worried because it appeared very far from the property and their were houses in between so it was not going to be close enough to have an impact regardless of what they built, Plus it is a residential area, so we knew it would be some sort of homes or condos. She also helped us with finding a home inspector, as like I said we are new to the area. We had the home inspection and all went well, The few things that came up the sellers fixed. Well, we moved into a nightmare, We put out about 30k in the house already. THEN we find out weeks after moving in that the piece of land we had asked soooooo many times about it actually going to be low income apts, 300 of them, AND that the houses behind our house that broke it up are actually part of the land sold, So these apts will actually be in our back yard!!!!!!!
I live in MASS, I am sitting here trying to understand how this is legal??? We did everything right, We got a realtor to work for us, Even though she was also the listing broker, I trusted her. We asked all the right questions. We had a home inspection which we paid $500. The realtor got the entire commission. We had an attorney. This project has been in the works for 2 years, My neighbors have been fighting it with the town, and the realtor lives right here in town, As does the developer for the project. It has been in the local paper, and my neighbors said their is no way the realtor did know about this, as it has been a huge topic in town. My home will decrease in value HUGE, And we were lied to!!!!! How is it that people are suing people left and right for nothing, We were ambushed and now stuck. WHY is it at a closing we sign all kinds of papers that are suppose to protect us, and then you cannot do anything. You pay for an inspection, But when the house is falling apart oh well, your problem. The realtors and home inspectors are all working together I now find out. This is just not fair.
Have any of you ever had to deal with an issue like this? Did you have ANY legal ground? Or are we just the idiots who got sucked in???

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So What Happened?

So I understand everyone telling me I myself should have done the work of investigating and I have learned my lesson. BUT here is my point, Even though I was the buyer and the money paid to the realtor came from the seller, I still made that realtor the money by using her. Now my point is if we are suppose to do all the work why are their realtors in the first place????? Why do we have home inspections if they cannot be held responsible for major missed problems. I am not talking about a broken faucet, I am talking sloped floors, and electrical issues that should have been noticed. So basicly what everyone is saying and they are right is we spend half a million dollars on a property use all the correct tools, and when all else fails after you sign the dotted line, Oh well, Its your problem. I find it appalling we have a lemon law protecting consumers when buying a used car for small money, yet a huge transaction like this their is nothing protecting the consumer. This is our 3rd home, and we have NEVER had an issue. Our realtors we used were always working for us, As I assumed this women was as well. It is disgusting that a person making 40k off a transaction has no responsibility what so ever to do their job. What does a realtor actually do then????? When selling a home it is the seller cleaning getting the house ready for the realtor to walk in and stand there while people walk through, So they advertise the home. Big deal. I am in the wrong business. I think I may call my local new station. If anything I can ruin this womens name. I am not out 5 or 10k, I am talking major money, and maybe not even being able to resell. So my damages are pretty severe. While this women walked away with 40 k.

Featured Answers



answers from Chicago on

I don't think you have any legal ground. Realtors aren't much better than used car salesmen. I hate to say it, but the whole housing market is filled with criminals. It's just to bad we can't do anything about it.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I'm very sorry. No experience with this situation but this is why I don't have much faith in Realtors. Professionals? Really? Let me get these knives out of my back and we will talk.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Please let me know if this house is in Stoneham Ma. If it is I would have some very important info for you.

More Answers


answers from Erie on

"Well god forbid *those poor people* move nearby! Bless their hearts!"

Sorry, but because of this attitude, I have little sympathy for people in your position. No one's property values are guaranteed. Ever. Not even mine, and I live in one of the few areas in the country that didn't suffer from the housing bubble.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I'm sorry - how is this your realtor's fault? Why didn't YOU research the land? All you have to do is go to your county records office. It's PUBLIC knowledge...just like people can find out who I bought my home from and how much we bought the house's ALL in public records...

what did your contract with her state?
what did she write - e-mails or texts or even in the contract - about the land behind your home? If she wrote it down - you MIGHT have a case.

if your neighbors are fighting this? And you don't want it to happen? Then you need to join the fight if it has NOT been approved yet.

Personally - I would NOT have worked with a realtor who was the buying and listing agent...that's a conflict of interest for me. She would have recused herself from one end of that "deal".

Home Inspectors? Sorry - that's what "GOOGLE" is for. You could have easily looked up Home Inspectors in your area and called around.

Without sounding mean, you might have asked the right questions - but you might not have listened to the answers and done your own research. It's okay to trust someone - but when you are new to an area - it's still wise to research your questions...ask the neighbors of the potential house you are going to buy...we did...our realtor knew the house had been a rental ...but she didn't know that a pipe had burst prior to us purchasing the home that caused the renovation to be done....for every house we looked at? We talked to the neighbors...if the neighbors didn't want to talk? We didn't want to buy. That simple for us...we found a neighborhood that works for us! We LOVE our neighborhood!! Only thing we don't like? No kids other than that's okay! They've made other friends!!

Any way - no. You aren't idiots. You just didn't research on your own. It's not to late. Join the fight to stop the development. Pay for ANOTHER inspection to be done. You might be within the time frame to have a case against the inspector if he/she missed anything...

good luck!

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Amarillo on

ETA: If you had not gotten answers to questions, I would not have put in an offer on the house. You also should have known there was a problem with the house when you mention slopping floors. Perhaps she thought you were considering raising the house and building a new one. Just a thought.

What does a realtor do?

1. Provide qualified buyers for listed properties.
2. Secure homes for sale and help stage for sale.
3. Possibly suggest agencies for financing.
4. Disclose anything wrong with the property (possible fire/homicide/foundation damage.
5. Advise other agents of the newly listed property for sale.
6. Write a buyers contract and submit to seller for approval or not.
7. Show homes that are available in said price range that buyer has stated.

These are some of the services.

The only thing is to join the fight. If enough of you go to the zoning hearings perhaps you can persuade them to change the zoning to single family from multi-use or mixed zone.

In my town there were very little signs posted on the property that the town wanted to change from single family to multi family use. The tract of land was between my home and the main road about a half mile wide stretch. At the beginning of the street were multi-level apartments kind of big boxy things. This design was what was going to be put in between my home and the main street. I got the information for the zoning committee and the desired change, walked door to door in the rain to let the neighbors know would be impacted more than me and we all met at the zoning committee some 70 plus strong. Needless to say the change was not made and a new single family housing tract was put in instead.
Another time like you a nice well to do area had a proposed Section 8 area to built right next to the golf course. The failed before it got started as several people offered to buy the 5 acre tract and turn it into a park. It is now the site of a senior citizens assisted living facility.

When we first got to town, we didn't know anyone but our realtor and I specifically told her what I didn't want. She tried her best to start on one side of town with homes built in the 70s. I told her if that was what she was going to show me I would not have sold my home in Tucson. There were two other ideal homes but one had a flood drainage ditch behind the fence and the other was not really move in ready. The last would have been great with an option on the lot next door. She slowly moved our search to the other side of town where we bought. It was a hard fight but I would not bite. We saw a beautiful home with an empty area and did not know at the time what would be there later more single family homes.

Also as one person pointed out, a realtor cannot blatantly come out and tell you x, y, z and have a job. It is up to you as the buyer to view the neighborhood on your own at different times of the day and night to see if it is what you want. You could have gone to the police department and inquired about the crime stats, the county for records of past owners, the city for planned changes in the town all these are public records.

As a former realtor there were areas of the town I knew were not the best but I could not tell a client that. I could make a statement that all the areas were great and suggest that you drive through them at different times of the day. We could not tell people but the base did were not to rent or buy. We could not tell a person that a home was in a family area and they did not have kids or their kids were not the ages of the kids in the block.

As for home inspectors, it is always best if you can get your own and not rely on one suggested by the realtor.

As TF says, you might plant the shrubs. Sorry.

the other S.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

You are stuck.

I am surprised at the number of people who will purchase a home with acreage behind them, across the street, etc wide open.

We live in TX and we know that property will be used at some point and time. One neighborhood went all up in arms when a Walmart built a neighborhood store in the lot next to them. This was a high end neighborhood.

Land gets used and if it is not a flood plain or known state owned park, etc then you must assume that it will be used for some sort of housing or retail.

I am sorry... the realtor may have been telling you the truth when she said she didn't know but any realtor knows land value and your realtor had to know at some point this land would be used.

You did ask a lot of questions and the right questions but you should have asked the question with the city and with the person who was selling the tract of land to see what was really planned. It is your job to research the public records and city plans.

Your lawyer is correct. You have no legal ground to stand on right now. Start now with heavy shrubbery and trees to give yourself a buffer.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I'm a bit surprised that an attorney said that there wasn't a case against the real estate agent. I'm not located in Massachusetts, but I did a simple google search using the phrase: "massachusetts realtor duty to disclose Chapter 93A". Multiple articles make it clear that a real estate agent has a legal duty to disclose to a buyer “any fact, the disclosure of which may have influenced the buyer or prospective buyer not to enter into the transaction." Here, your made it clear that you asked the agent about the vacant land behind your house and that it was well known in the area that there were plans to build apartments in the area. The agent was remiss in not being truthful about what she knew. It is probably not reasonable to believe that the agent was not aware of the planned development, given that it was in the news and that the agent lived in the area.

As to the inspector, I don't think that you will be successful in an action against him. An inspector simply inspects the house and reports its condition. I've never heard that an inspector should give his opinion of the surrounding land.

In your position, I would find another attorney. You should look for an attorney who is familiar with real estate law. You should also be reasonable in your expectations. You will probably not be able to unwind this transaction; you are almost certainly stuck with this house. What you might be able to get is monetary damages in the amount that you have been injured. In other words, what is the dollar amount of your loss? The attorney should be able to guide you on this.

Finally, if nothing else, I would look into filing a complaint with the real estate agent's licensing board.

Hope this helps.

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answers from Rochester on

At least one other person made a similar comment to what I am going to say. Just because it is low income housing does not mean it is going to be a problem. We live around the corner from some low income housing and in the almost 10 years that I have lived here and in the almost 15 years that my husband has lived here there has never been any problem with our low income neighbors. If fact, if it weren't for a HUD sign hanging there I never would have known they were low income. The apartments are very well kept, clean, and quiet. I've never seen a cop car there. I've seen an ambulance there maybe once or twice and I know that was for a man who has some sever health issues. We have less crime in our neighborhood than in other areas of town. I have friends in higher income neighborhoods who have had their cars broken into, car windows shot out with BB guns, mailboxes smashed with baseball bats, and every time it has been neighborhood kids (higher income kids) who have done it. Don't just assume that poor=bad.

Fresh out of college while I was still looking for full-time employment, I lived in an apartment for a short period of time that was rented based on income. That apartment was definitely nicer than some of the apartments I've lived in that were not low income. Never heard my neighbors, had a very supportive management, never had any issues. The most expensive apartment I lived in was the place where I had the most trouble with neighbors--loud parties, druggies downstairs, our deck covered with cigarette ash from the upstairs neighbors.

As far as property value, our house has an equal value to friends who have an almost identical house in a neighborhood without low income housing. We also have a group home for disabled adults across the street from us and "those houses" are also accused of lowering property values. Do you have proof that the value is going to drop?

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answers from Washington DC on

I think you're stuck. If I had looked at a home with lots of land behind me, I would have researched the heck out of it on my own, because in the end, I'm the one stuck - like you're finding out the hard way.

My parents are looking for land up and down the east coast right now and found two wonderful locations in NC last month. The one they ALMOST put an offer on has a lake...based on the realtor's comments, the water was safe. Based on my parents research of talking to other people in the town, the water is NOT safe and cannot be swam in. My parents walked away from the property only because they did their own research. Same thing with land in WV.

You have to be responsible for this, you have to own it, because you didn't really do everything you should have done on your own. Yes, the realtor SHOULD have told you, but didn't.

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answers from Dallas on

Not the answer you want, but you really don't have much to stand on. Just because it's a hot town topic doesn't mean much.. there's plenty here in mine that are high on the list but I only know of maybe one, (and not everyone reads the paper).. regardless, the court would say you can't prove it unless she signed something saying she didn't know. But even then it doesn't relate to your house directly (the housing project) so it's just one of those things... and it really sucks :(

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answers from Richland on

None of this is your realtor's fault. You need to find out the status of the rezoning ASAP! It may not have been approved yet. Okay just re read and noticed they are fighting it. Join the fight!

We just had something similar happen here about 10 miles from my home, 10 good miles so it doesn't impact me but it made the news. Someone in the area actually saw the notice for the final hearing and rallied the troops. I think it still went through but it was low income elderly housing.

Good luck and stop hating on your realtor, the laws prohibit her from telling you about things like that development. As dumb as this sounds a realtor will lose their license if they give you any information about socioeconomic, crime stats, even school ratings, they can only tell you where to look if they know.

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answers from Salinas on

You bought a home next to a huge piece of land that had recently sold and you never researched who bought it? Open land usually changes hands for one reason, development. In our area, I've never heard of a project that is entirely low income. The developer wouldn't make any money that way. Usually it's a development with a small percentage designated low income so that they can get the green light for the rest of the project.

I can't get past the fact that you asked the realtor so many times about what would go in but weren't inclined to look into it on your own. Now you know, research like crazy, talk to neighbors, check the local property sales notices, listen to your intuition with all big life decisions. No one is going to look out for you, you have to do it yourself.

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answers from Philadelphia on

I have never signed a contract with a realtor when buying a property. I would have been a little suspicious of any realtor that wanted me to do that in the first place. There was also a conflict of interest representing the seller and buyer but I believe the laws protect the seller and not the buyer and this is not illegal in PA. "Buyer beware" certainly applies here. So sorry you are going through this.
I would expect the the home inspector has established relationships with realtors but if they purposely did not report damages to the house that was obvious perhaps you have a case. A home inspector though does not have X-ray vision so if you discovered an electrical problem behind the walls after you moved in, you can not hold the home inspector responsible.
Good luck!!!

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answers from Washington DC on

I'm no expert but here's a couple of thoughts. Did you sign a buyers agreement with the realtor? Depending on the State anyway its illegal for the agent to represent both the buyer and the seller. At the very least you could write a letter of complaint to the appropriate liscensing board. In regards to the home inspector, (1) I don't think its uncommon for the realtor to make an inspector recommendation, (2) are they liscensed and insured? I would be following up with them on the $30K that you have had to put into the home. Sounds like they missed alot and they did not give you what you paid for. Lastly, I agree with others that its your (the buyers) responsibility to investigate adjacent land use, permits, etc. Yes, it sucks that the realtor was dishonest and I'd put that in your letter of complaint too but its still technically your responsibility. Good luck!

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answers from New York on

Hard lesson learned. Always talk to neighbors, go to town hall and ask questions. Read local newspapers. Unfortunately, you do not have any recourse. Sorry.

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answers from Los Angeles on

Realtors really work for the vendor, not the purchaser.. If you were paying her, then she had a conflict of interest with that property. I would pay a visit to your state trade and consumer authority to discuss it with them.

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answers from Los Angeles on

I agree that you need to check to make sure it is legal to represent BOTH parties in buying a home. It is shady and I would not have trusted the agent. Period. Second you need to pull out the 5,000 pages of documents you signed (you have copies right?) and look it over word by word. At least in CA the agent/seller has to provide all kinds of info: if its in a flood area, if there is special insurance REQUIRED, if its in a wildfire area, if there are registered sex offenders in the area, where the local schools are, if there are planned construction projects, hazardous chemicals in the area, fault lines, high power transmission lines, and so on and so on and so on...... But you need to check the laws in MA. IF they are required to disclose and they did not and you can prove that they should have or did in fact KNOW about this, then you may have a case.

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answers from Anchorage on

I am sorry but it was your responsibility to find out the information about the land. You should have talked to neighbors about the area before buying. A realtor is not a friend, they are a person doing a job. This really really sucks, but as far as I know they are only legally obligated to tell you about things that are wrong with the house, not what someone else plans to do with their own land. But, if you want to be sure then try contacting another lawyer just to be 100% sure you have no recourse.

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answers from Boston on

Sorry but live and learn...not knowing what was being built is your own failure. She's under no obligation to tell you about other projects going on in the area. Buyer beware and all guess is that basic research on your part and a phone call to the town hall would have given you that info.

For the inspection...the realtor can't refer you to a home inspector, it's illegal in Massachusetts (unless the broker is exclusively a buyer agent - in your case, she was a dual agent and therefore unable to explicitly refer you to her inspector). She was probably very careful to say "you can pick who you would like. Some of my customers have used [name] and have been very happy with the service" etc. Again...buyer beware. Of course as the listing broker she's going to mention will be someone she knows who won't pick apart the property.

The bottom line is that unfortunately, you didn't do everything right. You trusted someone like a friend and adviser who's sole purpose in your life was to get you to buy something. You got suckered.

The only recourse that I would think you may have would be to see if the inspector signed off on areas of the house that later needed repair and the need for repair was obvious. If I were you, I would pay for a consultation with another inspector, show them the original report and the repairs that you needed to have done and get his or her opinion on whether or not you have a case.

I'm sorry that you're going through this - if it makes you feel better, if you talk to friend and family you'll learn that most have had a similar experience. When we bought our current house, they already had had the title 5 inspection and certification done so we didn't have our own inspection done and didn't question the inspection at all. Well the septic system failed 2 years later and we had no recourse. We're on the hook for a $20K system and the system should never, ever have passed.

When we bought our old house, no one told us that the neighbors who lived behind us and shared our driveway were addicts and dealers. The police were at their house all the time. Live and learn.

ETA: in Massachusetts it is legal to be both a listing broker (seller's agent) and a a buyer's broker. The broker has to disclose the dual interest and both the buyer and seller sign documents acknowledging that they know about the arrangement.

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answers from Las Vegas on

I believe the only way you can sue her is if she put in writing that no [list] is going to be built on the property behind you.

She has no control over the property. The only lie, may be that she said she didn't know and you prove that she did.

When I purchased my property, I was so excited that when I looked through the windows upstairs, I could see the beautiful mountains. It was perfect. There were only suppose to be two 2-story homes on our street. The other one happened to be next door. It seems it would be perfect for the guy next door, but they put a few on the street perpendicular to ours and blocked their view as well. Oh well...nice while it lasted. Yes, I was sold on a home that had a small view that didn't have a premium.

As well, I live in a master plan community. Summerlin. Look it up. It is a beautiful community. The community cannot stop homeowners from renting as section 8, low income.

The community also said 7-11's were not allowed. We have one right down the street from me. There is another one right on the boarder, right across from a K Mart and a Walmart also boarders the community. The Walmart is actually called the Summerlin Walmart, but technically it is not in Summerlin.

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answers from Chicago on

You should have gone straight to the village/township or whatever governing body controls your area and asked them what the sold land was zoned and how it was going to be used. All of that information would have been public record. Your realtor basically withheld information from you because I'm sure she was well aware of what was going on.

I know it's too late at this point, but had I been you, I would have been at the village office inquiring about this land. I actually lived near open space at my last house, and we did that research before we bought and found it was zoned for single-family homes and had been sold to a developer. The information was easy to obtain.



answers from Boston on

Just one more little tidbit, in a neighboring town Westford (outside 495 west of Boston) "low income" housing was built and the huge sign that advertised it also stated the homes started at $330K!!!! So what qualified legally as "low income" is not necessarily cheap. They are a row of pretty 3-story town houses with porches and garages. They are on a busy corner, but the development itself is beautiful. The land behind us was developed as well and I for one am glad to have more neighborhood streets my kids can ride bicycles and I can walk along. The issue of the house needing so many repairs after purchase might be something you can sue for if the repairs were obviously missed by the inspector. But a family member bought a house and the next week the kitchen faucet broke and leaked water all over his floor overnight, the furnace failed and the refrigerator broke, so a week after paying lots of money for a house he had huge bills to be able to even live there. No guarantees were made and he knew the age of the appliances. Live and learn.


answers from Washington DC on

i'm shocked that she was allowed to act as representative for both buyer and seller. it's illegal here, as it should be. it's a clear conflict of interest.
but if it's legal in Mass., i think you're screwed. i'm so sorry. i too would be out of my mind.



answers from Chicago on

Realtors, Home Inspectors, Attorneys, Mortgage Brokers & Bank Lenders ALL work together. How did you not know that they ALL work together?

You should have researched the area before you put an offer in. You should have talked to the neighbors, called the town/city.

You can call all the Attorneys you want, call the Realtor board and put in a complaint but more than likely nothing will be done cause no one stopped you from doing your research.

BTW how did you find out about the top schools? did you research it yourself or relied on the Realtor?



answers from Detroit on

I would go ahead and contact a different lawyer. It doesn't hurt to get another opinion or a few more. I know in here in Michigan, there was a case not that long ago where a woman took her story to the local news station because she felt she was scammed by a real estate agent. I don't know what happened to her situation, but it drew attention and educated the viewers.

This may sound like it's coming from left field, but if you really do not want to live in this house, you may consider renting it out and making some rental income off of it.

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