Protection against latent defects exists for the purchaser of a forty-nine cent ball point pen under an implied warranty of merchantability, but no such protection prevails for the vendee of a $50,000 home in the absence of fraud, misrepresentation, or an express warranty of condition and habitability. Such is the anomaly created by the doctrine of caveat emptor, still ruthlessly applied in a majority of American jurisdictions. In two cases recently adjudicated, Elderkin v. Gaster and Smith v. Old Warson Development Co., the courts abandoned caveat emptor in the sales of new homes by builder-vendors where latent defects are at issue, adopting the civil law maxim caveat venditor.
Vendor and Purchaser-Abrogation of Caveat Emptor in New Home Sales by Builder,
U. Rich. L. Rev.
Available at: https://scholarship.richmond.edu/lawreview/vol7/iss2/19