South-Western Legal Studies in Business

Misrepresentation of Location of House Can be Violation of Consumer Fraud Act
Description New Jersey appeals court held that for a real estate agent to tell buyers that a house they were interested in buying was in a certain school district rather than another one can be a violation of the state Consumer Fraud Act.
Topic Consumer Protection
Key Words Misrepresentation; Real Estate
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts The Vagias wanted to buy a house in the Montville section because of its reputation for good schools and prestige. They told their real estate agent they wanted to be in Montville, not other locations. They bought a new house in a development called Woodmont Court at Montville. The builder and real estate agent said the house was in Montville. The settlement statement says it is in Montville. After they moved in, they learned it was in Towaco, not Montville, so they could not send their son to the school they wanted. They sued the builder and realtor under the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act. They contended that those parties misrepresented the legal location of their house. The trial court dismissed the suit; the Vagias appealed.
Decision

Reversed and remanded. The real estate agent engaged in misrepresentation of a serious matter that can be a violation of the Consumer Fraud Act. Under the Act, one need not provide proof of intent to mislead. The Act prohibits acts of deception and acts of omission that injure consumers. The issue in question was important to the Vagias, and the real estate agent was aware of that.

Citation Vagias v. Woodmont Properties, ---A.2d--- (2006 WL 709019, Super. Ct., N.J., 2006)

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