Residential Real Estate

Buying a home is typically the single largest investment of a lifetime – financially and personally. RHRC has a comprehensive awareness of the potential problems buyers and sellers face in real estate transactions. Our sophisticated knowledge of contract disputes, non-disclosure of material facts relating to property, enforcement of contracts, broker and agent representation, neighbor disputes, construction defects, and other conflicts involving easements, property lines, trespass, and nuisance provide our clients with legal representation they can trust. We know litigation takes both an emotional and financial toll. Our goal is to minimize the burden on our clients, using our premier experience to our clients' advantage, delivering a fair and equitable resolution in the most efficient, cost-effective manner possible.

RECENT CASES

In re: Fogarty v. Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District, et al. (San Mateo Superior Court Case No. CIV441934) Represented property owner in an action to assert easement rights in a roadway crossing property owned by Open Space District who cross-complained asserting rights to the same roadway. The matter was successfully settled.

In Re: Stout v. Ince, et al. (Santa Clara County Superior Court Case # 1-05-CV-049665, and subsequent binding arbitration). Prosecuted a rescission claim on behalf of property buyers against the seller of a vacant lot in Morgan Hill for violations of the Subdivision Map Act, Government Code Sec. 6649.32(a) and for mutual mistake of fact. Specifically, after the buyers and seller closed escrow on the purchase agreement for the 2 1/2 acre parcel of land, and despite diligent investigation by the buyers before the close, it became evident that the lot had been created from a prior subdivision without the necessary approvals. The buyers only discovered the violation as a result of engineering work they commissioned so that they could apply for and obtain building site approval. After the violation was discovered, the County of Santa Clara, Planning Office, confirmed that the parcels were illegally divided and that Plaintiffs would be unable to obtain building site approval. Following a two-day binding arbitration on their claims, the firm obtained a full rescission, damages and attorneys fees for the buyers in an amount in excess of $730,000.00.

In Re: Smith v. DiNapoli (Santa Clara County Superior Court Case #1-03-CV009914). Represented seller of high-end residential property suitable for subdividing against the real estate broker who acted as a dual agent in the transaction (representing both buyer and seller). The agent failed to properly prepare the contract providing seller would be paid additional compensation upon approval of the lot split. Seller recovered almost $1 million from the broker.

In Re: Cleckley v. Coldwell Banker, Bergeson, et al. (Santa Clara County Superior Court Case #1-03-CV815421, consolidated with Case #1-03-CV815422). Prosecuted a fraud and rescission claim on behalf of homebuyers against sellers and their real estate agents for failure to disclose past landslides. The firm obtained a confidential settlement on the eve of trial.

In Re: Binell v. Greenfield, et al. (Santa Clara County Superior Court Case #CV 788929). Settled a nondisclosure case against the sellers of residential property in the Lexington Basin and their broker. Both sellers and their broker failed to disclose that sellers had improved the property in violation of local ordinances, despite knowing what the ordinances required. Buyers obtained a full settlement, including attorneys' fees.

In Re: Dalton, Corbin v. Century 21 Alpha, et al. (Santa Clara County Superior Court Case #1-03-CV-011268). In a two-week jury trial, successfully prosecuted a nondisclosure case for buyers of residential real property. The sellers of the Morgan Hill property failed to disclose that it was on a septic system, and it was established at trial that the transfer disclosure statement was actually completed by sellers' agents. The jury found against the agents for negligence, negligent misrepresentation, fraud, and breach of fiduciary duty, and the agents were held responsible for buyers' damages, attorneys' fees, and costs.

In Re: Westendorf v. Sani, et al. (Santa Clara County Superior Court Case #1-03-CV-816608). In a two-week jury trial, successfully prosecuted a nondisclosure case against sellers of residential real property in Willow Glen. The sellers, two lawyers, failed to disclose mold at the property. The jury awarded buyers full damages and attorneys' fees.

In Re: Blodgett v. Perea, et al. (Santa Clara County Superior Court Case #1-04-CV013158). Successfully prosecuted and obtained an arbitration award on behalf of a stepfather who helped his stepson purchase a residence. Stepfather paid the downpayment and took title with the stepson. Stepson was going to live in the property, make all payments, and eventually repay stepfather the downpayment plus half the appreciation. When he failed to do so, stepfather sued for partition and an accounting and was awarded the downpayment, half the appreciation, plus attorneys' fees against stepson, who claimed that stepfather's contribution was a gift, not an investment.

In Re: Michael Morter, et al. v. Thunderbird Realty, et al. (Santa Cruz County Superior Court Case #CV136523). Obtained an arbitration award in excess of $1 million, including attorneys' fees, arising out of a real estate broker's failure to advise and counsel a home buyer of landslide potential in a mountain property.

In Re: Bennette v. Cesari (binding arbitration). Represented homebuyers in fraud action against sellers (one of whom was a licensed agent) for blatant misrepresentation of neighborhood noise conditions. We rescinded the sale transaction, forcing sellers to take back the residence, and won all attorneys' fees. The case was cited in "Property Condition Disclosure Forms" by George Lefcoe in Real Property, Probate and Trust Journal (Summer 2004), pp. 206-07.

In Re: Figueroa v. Etchison, et al. (San Mateo County Superior Court Case #CIV446706). Successfully settled an action by our client against her boyfriend of 10 years with whom she cohabited and purchased a large home in Burlingame. The settlement required the boyfriend to buy out our client's interest in the property and to release all claims to the Burlingame property and all other properties the client had acquired over the years in her own name.

In Re: Sayfie v. Franco (Santa Clara County Superior Court Case #1-02-CV806533). Represented a buyer of a single-family home in San Jose against a real estate agent who acted as a dual agent in the transaction (representing both buyer and seller). The agent marketed and advertised the home as having four income-producing units, although he knew that due to zoning restrictions, the property was illegally zoned for the four rental units. The case settled for the full amount demanded - over $200,000 in lost income from the non-viable rental units.

In Re: Justus v. Le (binding arbitration). Represented a seller in a case against a buyer who backed out of a purchase contract for a single-family home in San Jose after removing all contingencies. The seller was awarded the deposit and his attorneys' fees, which were more than twice the deposit amount.

In Re: Gunsagar v. Kablanian (binding arbitration). Represented sellers who sued the buyers of their $15 million single-family home in Monte Sereno. After buyers' stock decreased significantly decreased, they tried to get out of the contract by claiming that sellers misrepresented the property's square footage (the house was approximately 14,000 square feet). Settled the case on the first day of arbitration, recovering the buyers' $390,000 deposit and winning all attorneys' fees.

In Re: Cargill v. Field, et al. (Santa Cruz County Superior Court Case #CV144428). Represented a young couple whose new house in the Santa Cruz Mountains was built on the wrong lot. After buying the next-door lot to gain title to the land under their house, their neighbors denied them access to the road and water pipes. We sued the neighbors, got their case thrown out of court, and obtained prescriptive easements for access and water.

In Re: Tabrizi v. Fung (binding arbitration). Represented a buyer of a high-end Los Gatos residence at arbitration, recovering his deposit and all attorney's fees. Buyer's offer was contingent on his approval of the property's condition; unless he removed the property condition contingency in writing, the purchase agreement would automatically be void. After inspections revealed mold/fungus in the crawlspace, buyer refused to remove the contingency. Sellers refused to sign the release of contract or return buyer's large deposit. The arbitrator found that since buyer did not remove the contingency in writing, the property condition was deemed unacceptable and the contract terminated automatically.

In Re: Morris v. Taulbee, et al. (Santa Clara County Superior Court Case CV799421). Represented buyers against a seller and a dual agent who failed to disclose drainage and flooding problems. Seller's earlier letter to a neighbor buying a property next door warning him of the problems proved that she was aware of the problems yet failed to disclose them. Obtained an $85,000 settlement for the buyers.

In Re: Wells v. Prion (mediation). Settled a dispute for a businesswoman who put the name of her significant other on title to her home, which she had owned for many years, without any written agreement or any financial contribution from him. When the two parted ways, he sued her for a half-interest in the property. At mediation, we negotiated a small buyout of his alleged interest and removed his name from title.

In Re: Dunivin v. Nasmeh, et al. (Santa Clara County Superior Court Case #CV787333). Represented sellers of residential real property in Saratoga. The buyer was a local real estate agent/developer. It was established in discovery that the buyer intended to defraud the sellers. The case settled for full value on the first day of trial.

In Re: Fuller v. John V. Pinto & Associates, Inc., et al. (Santa Clara County Superior Court Case #CV766530, consolidated with #CV767682). Defended a seller against a claim brought by real estate broker suing for a commission, establishing that the realtor had breached his fiduciary duty.

In Re: Haga v. Wallace (Santa Clara County Superior Court Case #CV787408). Prevailed in a specific performance action, representing a buyer against a seller, obtaining a judgment and attorneys' fees for the buyer.

In Re: Mullin v. Benaron, et al. (San Mateo County Superior Court Case #CIV 431399). Settled case in mid-arbitration in favor of sellers of residential real property, who were sued by their buyer for failing to disclose foundation issues. After the buyer's deposition was taken, he settled for a complete walkaway.

In Re: Hogue v. Myer, et al. (binding arbitration). Prosecuted a case for buyers who discovered that their high-end home in the Los Gatos Foothills had non-disclosed defects which would cost at least $150,000 to repair. Obtained a judgment in the buyers' favor for the difference between what they paid for the property and its actual worth its true condition.