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Hamtil v. J.C. Nichols Real Estate: Disclaimer Protects Brokers From Claims

A 1996 Kansas case had a very favorable outcome for real estate practitioners, holding that they "may protect themselves from negligent misrepresentation actions by disclaiming knowledge of the property’s defects and having a seller acknowledge such disclaimer."

In this case, the sellers’ disclosure statement asserted that they were not aware of any water leakage or damage, and the purchasers’ inspectors found no significant problems. Immediately after closing, however, the purchaser discovered water damage throughout the house and sued all parties involved, including the listing brokerage and two of its sales associates, claiming they had made false statements about the property’s condition.

On appeal, the court ruled in favor of the licensees, reasoning that the purchasers had signed an acknowledgment form stating that they were not relying on any representations made by the licensees. Moreover, the form contained space for them to list any representations upon which they were relying, and they had listed nothing. In addition, the purchasers had inspected the property several times, had chosen to rely on professional inspectors whom they hired, and had sought an attorney’s advice before signing the acknowledgment.

Hamtil v. J.C. Nichols Real Estate , 22 Kan. App. 809, 923 P.2d 513 (Kan. Ct. App. 1996).

Editor's Note: To see pre-1990 Broker Liability cases organized by jurisdiction, click here.