Buying a new home is one of the most exciting things that you and your family may ever do. Of course, when buying a home, there are the normal risks – that you may lose your job and will be unable to repay your mortgage, that the market won’t be strong when you’re ready to sell, etc. However, before you sign on the dotted line, you’ve likely taken a close look at the property, and have a fair idea of any day-to-day issues or immediate repairs that may be required. Which is why when an undisclosed and serious issue presents itself, you may feel wronged and anxious about your options. Consider the following about your legal rights if you bought a house with problems not disclosed, suing a seller for non-disclosure, and how our real estate disputes lawyer can help. Texas Disclosure Laws – What Does a Property Owner Have to Disclose? If you have bought a house with problems not disclosed, the first thing that you should do is familiarize yourself with Texas disclosure laws; this will help you to understand whether or not the seller breached the duty owed to you. The laws regarding a seller’s disclosure obligations are found in Texas Property Code Section 5.08, and require that a seller provide a buyer with written notice of any “material defects” in/on the property. Typically, this requires that sellers disclose structural or cosmetic defects, such as a termite infestation or the presence of mold. Note that sellers are only required to disclose defects that are known to them; if the seller did not know of a defect at the time of the sale, they cannot be held liable for the defect. Also of interest is the fact that property owners in Texas are not required to disclose any deaths that have occurred on the property due to natural causes, accidents that were unrelated to the condition of the property, or suicide. However, a property owner is required to disclose any knowledge of murder that occurred on the property, as well as deaths that occurred as a result of a condition of the property (even if the condition has since been remedied). Can I Sue a Seller for Failure to Disclose Property Defects? Moving into a new home only to discover an expensive defect or problem with the property can be frustrating. If you believe that the seller lied or intentionally concealed a defect, you may have a cause of action. In order to hold the seller liable, you’ll need to prove that the defect existed before you purchased the home, that you had no knowledge of the defect, and that the seller knew of the defect and yet failed to disclose it. Of course, you will also need to show that you have incurred financial losses as a direct result. In addition to filing a lawsuit against the seller, you may also have a cause of action against the seller’s realtor (if they were involved in the non-disclosure) or the home inspector that you hired to conduct an inspection of the property prior to purchase. Keep in mind that even if the seller failed to disclose something, it can be difficult to hold them liable for damages if there is evidence that you did not do due diligence in discovering the defect. For example, if you failed to hire a home inspector prior to purchase and there is not strong evidence that a seller intentionally failed to disclose a defect, you may not be able to hold the seller liable. How Our Lawyer Can Help When You’re Suing a Seller for Non-Disclosure Buying a house with undisclosed problems can be frustrating, to say the very least. If you believe that the seller knew of the defect and failed to disclose it, or actively lied about the defect, you may have a claim. Our experienced real estate dispute lawyer at the office of Khirallah PLLC can help you to gather the evidence necessary to establish the elements listed above, understand the remedies available to you, and negotiate a resolution. If your case requires litigation, Khirallah PLLC will also be prepared to take your case to court. Call Khirallah PLLC Today for a Consultation Texas’ disclosure laws can be confusing to navigate on one’s own. If you think that you have a suit for non-disclosure against a seller of property in our state, please contact our law firm today for a consultation and more information about your legal options. Our lawyer will aggressively advocate for you and protect your best interests.Continue on the Blog
Aggressive. Efficient. Effective.
Khirallah PLLC is a real estate only litigation boutique that represents and protects homeowners against predatory lenders, mortgage servicing companies, builders, and investors. Khirallah PLLC’s specialized experience in exclusively real estate matters, such as large scale homeowner disputes related to improper disclosures from builders, construction defect litigation, foreclosure and/or mortgage litigation, title disputes, and other related real estate disputes has enabled her to become a powerhouse in the real estate and real estate financing industry. Khirallah PLLC understands the intricacies of the industry, the uniqueness of each dispute and complicated real estate financing and lending issues.
When facing banks and builders and investors, you may feel helpless and even doubt the legitimacy of your case.
That’s when we come in.
We practice in the following areas of litigation.
Meet The Managing Attorney
Rachel E. Khirallah
As a seasoned trial lawyer, Rachel Khirallah has been representing clients in real estate disputes for more than fourteen years. Whether she is representing a large group of homeowners fighting a builder for failing to disclose defects or an individual fighting to save their home, Ms. Khirallah zealously advocates for her clients. She is decisive, experienced, dedicated, and relentless. The legal system is complicated, expensive, and difficult, if not impossible, for consumers to access, especially against a corporation. Rachel went to law school to give access to the legal network to those who would otherwise not have it and in her words, “is so fortunate to love the work she does and gets up every morning wondering how she is going to change the world”. According to Rachel, the average individual does not have the resources to fight the corporations who have wronged them, and Rachel gives access to the legal network to those who would otherwise not have it.
Frequently Asked Questions
Earnest money is an essential part of almost every real estate transaction. To show they are serious, buyers will deposit a sum of money into trust. Typically, the seller sets the earnest money price, which is either a percentage of the purchase price or a flat sum. Earnest money can also cushion the blow if the buyer decides to step away from the deal as it covers some unforeseen expenses incurred by the seller. But what happens to earnest money if the sale falls through? This happens more often than people might imagine. In earnest money disputes, it matters why the buyer has cancelled the contract. A Buyer’s Chances to Get the Earnest Money Back Real estate contracts are complicated and often include many milestones. For example, a buyer will want the home to be inspected before going through with the sale. If the inspection comes back unsatisfactory, then the buyer can call off the purchase if they provide appropriate notice. These milestones are often contingencies—something must happen for the contract to be valid. Another contingency included in many real estate contracts is that the buyer sells their home. If they can’t, then they can cancel the purchase and get their earnest money back. One question we receive is, “Do you lose earnest money if financing falls through?” Probably, as receiving financing is usually the final milestone included in home purchase contracts. If the buyer cannot get a mortgage, then they can cancel the contract and have their earnest money returned. But if they do secure financing, then the buyer usually can’t cancel the contract without losing their earnest money. Retrieving the Money from Escrow Earnest money is often deposited in escrow and should be returned within a short amount of time once a buyer drops out of the contract. To request the earnest money, contact the escrow holder for more information. However, if there is a dispute about whether a buyer can get the earnest money, the escrow holder will keep it until the dispute is resolved. At that point, you will need an attorney’s help coming up with a plan for prevailing in your dispute. How to Protect Yourself Contract disputes crop up all the time, and many contracts contain dispute resolution clauses. For example, the buyer and seller might attend mediation or arbitration to resolve their differences. These dispute resolution techniques are often quicker than going to court and can frequently end the dispute. You should also meet with an attorney. An experienced real estate dispute lawyer can reach out to the other side to resolve the dispute informally. Doing so will help everyone save money by avoiding court and all the expenses associated with a lawsuit. However, when a lot of money is at stake, a trip to the courthouse is often unavoidable. Your Real Estate Contract Lawyer Rachel Khirallah has been practicing in the real estate field for over a decade and has handled many earnest money disputes. If you have a question, or if you need help negotiating a resolution to a dispute, contact us today. We can swing into action to protect your rights. Call 214-302-0462 or send us an online message.Continue on the Blog
According to data provided by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), approximately 250,000 foreclosures are initiated in the United States each year. For a homeowner, dealing with a foreclosure, or the possibility of foreclosure, can be deeply stressful, even traumatic. If you or your loved one is facing foreclosure in Texas, it is crucial that you have a basic understanding of relevant state and federal regulations. Here, our Dallas wrongful foreclosure lawyer provides an overview of the most important things that you need to know about the foreclosure laws in Texas. An Overview of Texas Foreclosure Laws Most Mortgages in Texas Have a Grace Period If you miss a single mortgage payment by a few days, it is not the end of the world — far from it. Most mortgages in Texas have a grace period, typically one that is between ten days and fifteen days. When possible, it is critical that you make your mortgage payments on time. Though, you should also familiarize yourself with the grace period that applies to your specific mortgage, so that you know if you are being charged an unfair late payment fee. Federal Law Generally Requires Lenders To Take Action During the Pre-Foreclosure Period For most mortgages, federal law (12 CFR § 1024.39) requires lenders to take certain actions during the pre-foreclosure period. The pre-foreclosure period is defined as the timeframe between when a payment was missed and the time when a foreclosure is actually initiated by the lender. During this period, mortgage lenders generally have a duty to follow certain early intervention requirements. More specifically, lenders should call the borrower and send a written notification letter. If you are having trouble making your mortgage payments, you should take action during the pre-foreclosure period. Y ou may be able to get a loan modification or some form of forbearance from your lender. Ignoring phone calls and letters from your lender will only create more problems. No Right of Redemption Under Texas Foreclosure Law One of the most important things that homeowners in Texas need to know about the state’s foreclosure laws is that there is no right of redemption. A right of redemption, which exists in some jurisdictions, give homeowners the right to repurchase a property for the same price that it was sold at in a foreclosure auction. As there is no general statutory right of redemption in Texas, borrowers have little to no opportunity to redeem a home once it has been sold in foreclosure. Texas Law Allows For Non Judicial Foreclosure In Texas, the overwhelming majority of foreclosures are non judicial foreclosures. Most mortgage agreements in the state contain a ‘power of sale’ clause, which grants a lender the right to foreclose on the property by itself — without taking the borrower to court. Unfortunately for homeowners in Texas, non judicial foreclosures typically proceed far more quickly than do judicial foreclosures. In fact, most non judicial foreclosures are completed within a few months, whereas judicial foreclosures can take more than a year. For this reason, financially distressed homeowners need to take immediate action to protect their rights. If you are falling behind on your mortgage or you have received a foreclosure notice, you should contact an experienced attorney right away. Following Foreclosure, a Lender May Seek a Deficiency Judgment With some limited exceptions, foreclosure sales typically do not satisfy the full amount of the defaulted mortgage. As a result, lenders may attempt to take additional action to hold the foreclosed-upon borrower personally liable for the remaining amount. This is done through a type of legal claim called a deficiency judgment or deficiency action. Facing a deficiency judgment after already being foreclosed upon can be devastating. If you find yourself facing a potential deficiency judgment, you need to know how to explore all of your available legal options. You may be entitled to an offset in the deficiency when accounting for the fair market value of the property that was foreclosed on. A Texas wrongful foreclosure attorney can protect you protect your legal rights. Get Help From our Texas Wrongful Foreclosure Attorney Today At Khirallah PLLC, our Texas wrongful foreclosure lawyer is committed to providing effective, personalized legal representation to homeowners. If you or your loved one is facing a wrongful foreclosure or has already been wrongfully foreclosed on, we are here to help. To set up a free, fully confidential review of your wrongful foreclosure case, please do not hesitate to contact our Dallas law office today.Continue on the Blog
This glossary defines legal terms commonly used in real estate to define disputes, transactions, or services. Khirallah, PLLC wants you to be as educated as possible during your real estate litigation case. We also offer blog posts on legal topics so that our clients can familiarize themselves with the legal process. We hope you find the definitions of these terms helpful as you navigate your real estate dispute. Adverse Possession A claim of ownership to property that arises after known, unauthorized use of another’s property for a certain number of years. A common example is a neighbor that builds a shed on your property. If you knew about the shed but did nothing to stop him, your neighbor would eventually be able to initiate a court proceeding to claim ownership. Assignment of Contract A process in which a party to an existing contract sells, transfers, or assigns their rights under that contract to another party. Contract for Deed An alternative method of payment that allows a buyer to make regular payments on a property until the amount owed is paid in full. During the repayment period, the buyer has “equitable title” in the property and is, for all intents and purposes, the owner. The seller still retains “legal title” until the property is fully paid off. Also known as an “installment land contract.” Deed of Trust An agreement between a lender and a borrower to transfer property to a neutral third party trustee. The trustee holds legal ownership until the borrower pays off the debt, but the borrower maintains full responsibility for the property during the repayment period. Easement The right to use someone else’s property for a specific purpose. For example, an easement might exist where one property is only accessible by passing through the private property of another (via a driveway or other path). Escrow Payment A portion of a mortgage payment, set aside in an escrow account, used to pay property taxes and homeowner’s insurance. This money is stored in an escrow account to guarantee it can be used. Equity The difference between the fair market value of the property and the amount of money you owe on the mortgage. Put another way, equity is the money you would receive after paying off the mortgage if you sold your home. Forced-Placed Insurance An insurance policy placed on property when the owners’ own policy lapses, is cancelled, or is insufficient and a new policy is not obtained. Force-placed insurance policies allow lenders to protect their financial interest in a property. Joint Tenancy An equal, undivided interest in property shared by two or more tenants. Ownership in a joint tenancy must be established by the same deed, at the same time. If one tenant dies, their ownership automatically passes to any surviving tenants. Lien A notice attached to a property indicating that there is some unpaid debt. A lien prevents the property from being sold or refinanced until it is paid off. Lis Pendens Written notice that a lawsuit has been filed concerning title or other interest of a piece of property. Lis pendens is Latin for “a suit pending.” Marketable Title A title that is free from any threat of litigation or encumbrances (like a mortgage). When a seller sells property, there is an implied promise in the contract that the title is marketable. Partition The act of dividing up an estate owned by multiple people at the same time. The estate is divided proportionally based on the ownership interests of the concurrent owners. Quiet Title Proceeding A legal action taken to resolve disputes over ownership of real property. If more than one person claims ownership of a piece of property, an action to quiet title can determine the rightful owner, “quieting” any challenges to ownership. RESPA Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act—Federal law that requires lenders to disclose certain costs related to real estate transactions and related settlement services. RESPA also regulates the use of escrow accounts and prohibits kickbacks. Specific Performance A contract remedy where a court orders the breaching party to perform its contractual duty. Specific performance may be awarded when money damages would be inadequate. Title Insurance Insurance that protects the holder from financial loss caused by defects in the title to a property. Unexpected defects may be present if unpaid taxes or liens are missed during a title search (a review of public records to confirm ownership of the property). Warranty Deed A type of deed where the seller guarantees that she holds clear title (free of debt or other liens) to the property being sold and that she has the legal right to sell it. Wraparound Mortgage A subordinate mortgage that “wraps around” and incorporates an existing loan. The borrower makes payments to the lender, who makes payments on the underlying mortgage. Start Your Real Estate Litigation Case Understanding these terms can make the real estate litigation process easier for you. Knowledge of these terms helps facilitate discussion with your real estate attorney about your case. If you are looking for a real estate attorney that will work with you every step of the way, contact Khirallah, PLLC today.Continue on the Blog
Khirallah In The Community
We are in this business for a reason: the people.
Giving back to the DFW Metroplex is important to Rachel and Khirallah PLLC. Rachel and her firm dedicate significant time and resources to support the community through.
- Routinely accepting pro bono cases
- Maintaining an active internship program for high school and college students
- Funding a scholarship program for high school and college students
- Volunteering as an active alumnus of Ursuline Academy and
- Donating to charitable donations