Purchasing an older house is often accompanied by an increased need for renovation. If the sales exposé states that the property is “ready to accommodate new owners in a few easy steps”, can buyers assume that the modernisation will be completed quickly?
Normally one should be able to rely on the information in the broker’s exposé. In case of deliberately incorrect information or knowingly concealing important damages, the buyers can hold the estate agent liable.
The Dresden Higher Regional Court has heard one case (file number 4 U 2183/19, judgement of 17 March 2020). In the exposé, the estate agent had described a hundred year old house as “in need of renovation” and noted that the house was “ready to accommodate new owners in a few easy steps”. But it was not that simple.
The buyers complained of material defects because the need for renovation (including moisture, old electrical wiring) of the house was actually very high. The buyers felt that the wording in the exposé was misleading, as they could not deduce the actual amount of renovation work from the exposé.
The judges thought that the exposé did not have to do this either and dismissed the claim because the wording in the exposé was not a “concrete description of the condition” or “agreement on condition”. The exposé did not indicate the standard to which the house should be transferred after renovation. Therefore, no information can be expected about the concrete effort involved.
The sellers had lived in the house until last. Thus it was regarded as habitable. In addition, the buyers were able to inform themselves about the state of refurbishment on photographs, during inspections and in discussions with the sellers.
The controversial formulation in the expose, the house is “with few handles ready”, “to accommodate new owners”, is only an empty advertising slogan.
The judges point out in their judgement that the notarised contract of sale does not mention a particular condition or any agreements to remedy defects. A well-advised seller would probably not get involved in this either.