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Contract dispute claims fraud over Chandler LA mansion

The Los Angeles area is not short on high-priced residential properties. But one doesn't often hear about the big ticket places becoming the focus of claims of real estate fraud. But that is just what has happened in regard to "Los Tiempos," the one-time home of Los Angeles Times publisher Norman Chandler.

The details of the case are intriguing and, if nothing else, point out that suspicions of fraud aren't limited to that portion of the real estate market that is perhaps dominated by home flippers; those speculators who come in, snatch up distressed homes, do some aesthetic touch-ups and then resell the properties for a profit. No, the story about Los Tiempos shows that concerns about potential real estate fraud can happen in the high-end market, too.

The property at the center of the fight is the 100-year-old, 10,000-square-foot mansion that Chandler and his wife, Dorothy Buffum Chandler, called home. Situated along the tony homes of Windsor Square, the Beaux Arts-style home attracted a sale price of more than $8 million in 2006.

Upon taking possession of the place, however, the couple who bought it said they found faulty plumbing, a leaky roof, ugly mold, dangerous wiring and raw sewage in the place. The couple claimed they'd been lied to by the previous owner and his business partner. They took the matter to arbitration, which may have been spelled out as the only course they could follow to pursue complaints. Unfortunately, the arbitrator's recent decision in the years-long battle didn't go in the couple's favor. The estimated cost of the struggle was more than $1million.

The thing to remember from this post is that, regardless of the price point of a home, the possibility of real estate fraud can always exist. To fight against such practices and to protect homebuyers in the process can require counsel that has the knowledge and ability to ferret out where and how fraud was committed.

Such wisdom may also be important in being able to ensure that contract disputes over alleged real estate fraud don't wind up being side tracked into a resolution process that may not allow for subsequent appeals.

Source: LATimes.com, "Buyers lose 3-year dispute over Norman Chandler's former home," Martha Groves, July 25, 2012

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