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Lucy, Esq.
Lucy, Esq., Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 27239
Experience:  Lawyer
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Customer Question

I engaged a lawyer to draw up the paperwork I need to buy a house under contract for deed. The attorney was not forthcoming with all the details surrounding issues with the property. I fullfilled the contractual payments for 4 years. During the end of the four years, a sherif showed on the property and gave me papers that the home was being foreclosed on by the owners. I was current with my payments. But my concern is that the lawyer never informed me that at the time the contract for deed was signed, the owners were already in foreclosesure and used the down payment to get out. I was not aware of this. If the lawyer had informed me that the property was already in foreclosure my decision to go forward with the contract for deed would have been different. I would have negotiated a different deal or found another property. I feel that he did not research the circimstances regarding the property because there were other issues that cane up when the home went in to foreclosure. I ended up losing the property. Do I have any remedies from the lawyer?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 3 years ago.

My name is XXXXX XXXXX I'd be happy to answer your questions today. I'm sorry to hear that this happened.

The statute of limitations for a malpractice action is four years from the date that the malpractice occurred. However, to recover, you have to be able to establish that the attorney fell below the standard typically exercised by a lawyer of similar diligence, skill, and experience. That means showing that he either knew the property was in foreclosure and failed to tell you, or that there were enough facts present at the time that he should have been on notice to investigate and verify whether the property was in foreclosure. If he reasonably believed that the owners would use your payments to pay on the mortgage (and thus, not save the property from foreclosure), then that could be enough to cut off any liability.

A better argument may be that he should have drafted the argument so that your payments would go directly to the mortgage, for your own property. These cases are very difficult to prove - essentially, you have to have a lawyer to bring the case for you. So, you may want to take the original paperwork to a local attorney who can help.

The party that really injured you here was the sellers. You DO have a cause of action against them for breach of contract, since an implied condition of a purchase and sale agreement is that they own the house and have the ability to transfer it to you (and will not do anything to prevent them from doing so). You would not be able to recover all payments made, since you did get a place to live for four years, but you may be able to recover some damages that occurred as a result of their breach (such as your down payment, money put into the property, etc.)

If you have any questions at all about what I've written, please reply so that I may address them. It's important to me that you are 100% satisfied with the service I provide. Otherwise, please rate my service positively so that I get credit for helping you today. Thank you.