Purchasers (Sometimes) Have Only Two Years to Sue Brokers and Agents

Code of Civil Procedure section 2079.4 requires that purchasers bring any lawsuit against the “listing agent” within two years of the transaction; however, that section does not apply to the “selling agent.”


In William L. Lyon & Associates, a purchaser sued a real estate broker and its agent, who were dual agents in the transaction, in connection with the purchase and sale of a residential property.


The broker and agent asserted in a motion for summary judgment that all claims were barred because the two-year statute of limitations imposed by Civil Code section 2079.4, and contained in the standard form contract for residential property, had already passed before suit was filed against them. The trial court denied the summary judgment motion, and the broker and agent appealed.


The Court of Appeal, interpreting the limitations period in Section 2079.4 narrowly, found that it applied only to the statutory duties of the listing agent to the purchaser (i.e., the duty to visually inspect and disclose conditions affecting the desirability of property). Here, because the broker and agent acted as not only the listing agent, but also the selling agent, the Court held they were not entitled to the benefit of Section 2079.4’s shorter limitations period.


William L. Lyon & Associates, Inc. v. Sup. Ct. (2012) 204 Cal.App.4th 1294