Texas attorneys representing developers, homeowners and contractors, and in fact any attorney who is drafting a contract for a client, should make note of a recent case by the 4th Court of Appeals in San Antonio, Texas.
In the recent case of San Antonio Properties L.P. v. PSRA Investments, Inc., the Seller of an apartment complex was held liable for fraud for its representations as to the financial condition of the apartments, even though the contract of sale contained language that the Buyer agreed to “…accept the Property in its current condition, as is, after having inspected the Property to Buyer’s satisfaction.” The evidence showed that the Seller had provided the apartments’ operating statements to the Buyer, but had omitted from those financial documents the substantial amounts spent by the Seller in capital expenditures and repairs.
The resulting operating statement (minus the capital expenditures) showed that the apartments made money. When the capital expenditures were added back in, the apartments lost money. The Court held that the “as-is” clause in this contract did not prevent the Seller from being liable to the Buyer for fraud due to the intentionally inaccurate financial documents provided to the Buyer. The Court notes that “…even sophisticated buyers have the right to rely on the veracity of the financial information provided to them by the sellers.”
I often see Texas real estate attorneys and their clients placing a great deal of reliance on the “as-is” clause in their contracts. This case suggests that this reliance may be misplaced, and will certainly not be a shield against actual deception.