What happens when a homeowner deceives the buyer about existing property damage?
When the buyer of a home is lied to about existing damage on the property, the results to the new owner can be physically dangerous, emotionally devastating, and exorbitantly expensive.
A couple in Florida is accused of selling their property for $64,900 without telling the buyers about an existing sinkhole. The sellers were well aware of the sinkhole and had, in fact, cashed a reimbursement check from their insurance company to cover the necessary repairs, but never fixed the problem.
Glenn Jasen, 64, and his wife Kathryn, 63, of Spring Hill, Tennessee, were arrested by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and appeared in federal district court in Tampa this past summer. The Jasens are accused of wire fraud, a federal felony, and face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
It has been substantiated that the Jasens were well aware of the sinkhole. The wire fraud charge stems from the fact that they transferred money from the sale across state lines, since they resided in Tennessee at the time of the sale. Moreover, they never disclosed the existence of sinkholes in the real estate documents they signed.
Sinkholes exist all over the world; a great many have been found in Florida. There have been other cases in which the known existence of sinkholes has not been revealed to prospective buyers. Usually, however, according to the Jasen's attorney, Victor Martinez, such omissions in home sale disclosures are prosecuted in civil litigations. Martinez told ABC News that this case is the first one he knows of that has been brought through federal charges.
The family that purchased the property with the sinkhole had to evacuate their new home and reported that the house and grounds were uninhabitable. This case demonstrates an extreme case of "Buyer Beware." When presented with such a catastrophic purchase, it is essential that the buyer consult with a skilled and trustworthy property claims attorney.