Dennis Quaid sues over defects in Austin mansion

Lawsuit says sellers of lakefront estate failed to disclose problems with water intrusion, rats and remodeling done without permits. The sellers disagree.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Nov 15, 2011 2:16PM

Dennis Quaid (© Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic/Getty Images)Paying a lot for a house apparently does not ensure it's in good shape, or even in livable condition.

Actor Dennis Quaid and his wife, Kimberly, are suing the sellers of the Austin, Texas, mansion for which they paid an undisclosed number of millions in February. They allege the sellers misrepresented the condition of the house and are asking for their money back, as well as additional damages and attorney fees.

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According to the lawsuit, the home suffers from water intrusion and related damage, remodeling projects that were done badly and without permits, and a rat infestation.


The problems are so bad, according to the Quaids, that they cannot live in the house and have been forced to rent another home in Austin. 


The Quaids moved to Austin to be nearer to the actor's mother, who is in a retirement home there. Dennis Quaid is from Houston; his wife is from Austin.

It's not known how much the Quaids paid for the two pieces of property that make up the estate, but the main house was last listed for $12 million. It's a six-bedroom, eight-bath house, with 11,103 square feet on just under half an acre. It has a pool, outdoor fireplace, wine room and secured vault, plus 100 feet of lakefront.

The house was built in 1970. According to the listing, it was "remodeled in 2007 using the finest finishes and materials." The second piece of property includes a boathouse and a helipad.


The Real Estalker has photos, as does Candy Evans at Candy's Dirt.

The sellers were Blake and Monica Byram, who are well-known in Austin. Their lawyer told The Austin American-Statesman that the Byrams "don't agree with the allegations" and are negotiating with the Quaids, whom they consider friends.


Tags: celebrity
Nov 16, 2011 10:34AM
Hard to feel any sympathy for the Quaids. Her father is a well known contractor here in Austin. Her brother is a real estate lawyer. Kimberly is a real estate agent herself. With this background of real estate professionals, no way you can convince me the Quaids have been taken advantage of. The horrendous house in question was listed for $12 mil, but they bought it for far less. Closer to $6 mil. They've been in this place since Feb of this year. Why are they just now making noise about the place? We've had rain since then too & who the hell could miss a rat or what they leave behind? Love the Quaidster, but I think the wife found something she likes better & is trying to get out of living in an atrocious looking house.
Nov 16, 2011 9:36AM
In regards to bpwi, I worked construction in FL for many years dealing with hundreds of different trades people. Which most of them were hacks, it's a small percentage of people who know what they are doing. And I have never met a home inspector that I would recommend to anyone regardless of their license or so called compentcy. And Holmes Inspections is an education tool for people who don't know what they are looking for. Go back to watching your Keeping up with the "K"'s
Nov 16, 2011 8:07AM
Reality Check 39 is the one with no clue.  If you think that Holmes Inspection is gospel then you are the one that needs a reality check. It's TV you moron.  Most inspectors are licensed and highly competent.  Like ALL professions it has bad with good. Ask the right questions and do your research before hiring one.  Obviously research is not your strong suit or you wouldn't spout numbers like "90% don't have a clue".  Buyers also sometimes hear what they want to hear and don't take all of the inspectors recommendations.
Nov 16, 2011 7:25AM
Most of you people are total morons and don't know what you're talking about or what happened. It's amazing how many of you just assume something has or hasn't been done in the case. Assuming things you don't know, makes you look stupid.

  • Inspection was done. And, by the most popular and most trusted inspector here in Austin used by pretty much ALL of the top realtors and for the most expensive homes. This is certainly not the most expensive home in Austin.
  • Disclosures were given. The realtors did their jobs in disclosing everything that was known to them. Quaid's had real estate attorney as well in the transaction. They sign-off on all parts of the transaction and take over when realtors are not allowed to give advice, exonerating realtors liability. The buyers can ignore or overlook anything in the disclosures if they so choose and move forward with the transaction.
  • Permits. Realtors are not required to look into permits. The builders are the ones required to get and have permits. This is what title insurance is for also.
These are just facts. Don't think that realtors and inspectors are all out to get somebody. Sure a realtor wants to do their job and sell and buy houses, but they certainly are not in the game to have a bad reputation about them around town. Both sides of the transaction had professionals working for them.
Nov 16, 2011 7:24AM
Disclosures are not always up dated  .esp after a home inspection . finding key items and major concerns are  not always listed . because  as a home inspector we often get this Question  where is lisc  for electrical plumbing A/C Heating  and so on . grant it we or some of us dont have lisc. but what we do have is training and experiance to look for DBL or Tripled Circuts . we look a conditions when  it comes to plumbing .leaks .mechanicals we look for operation. / condition age and so forth . tel tel signs of leaks are most ogten found in side attics and not exterior rood coverings . when you can see daylight through a structure .  like a cfoundation  or a roof support or a wall its obveious that there is a problem . just pointing out facts . and when a home inspector  finds these issues he is usually the guy they blame and we have to work hard at proving our selves over and over again . but how ever when we inspect and find no major flaws and the home sales we are saints . get my point  thats why its important to hire the home inspector so that you can be sure that all the information is  or isnt correct on the disclosure . thanks and God Bless  .
Nov 16, 2011 6:47AM
Today the most common way to quit paying on an upside down real estate purchase is to just walk away. When you are wealthy though, a more creative way to get out from under an upside down mortgage is  to pay experts  to find, or CLAIM  problems and conditions that provide justification to sue to get out from under that same upside down debt . This may or may not be the case in this situation,  it is however definitely possible. The Quaids are not the only wealthy celeberaties who have done this exact same thing recently.
Nov 16, 2011 6:45AM
All states have laws concerning disclosures when selling a home.  As the seller, you are required to fill out the disclosure forms truthfully, within the framework of your personal knowledge of the property.  

We bought a house in Texas a few years ago where the previous homeowner was concerned about possible issues with the foundation.  They paid two foundation companies plus a structural engineer to look at the house.  All determined that nothing was wrong with the foundation.  

We had to disclose all that information when we sold the house this year because we knew about it when we purchased the house.  If we hadn't disclosed, and there had been a problem with the foundation, the buyers could have sued us for the cost of repairs.  So when in doubt, disclose.  That way you have covered yourself and can't be sued over defects.  

If you fail to disclose defects and it can be proved that you were aware of said defects and didn't reveal them on the disclosure forms, then you are on the hook for the cost of repairs and legal fees.

I agree that it's a good idea to get a home inspection.  You want someone who is knowledgeable about building codes and who has continued his/her education in the various aspects of home building.  You also want someone who has performed many home inspections.  And the home inspector should be insured.  If they aren't, that's a red flag.

The sellers in this case wouldn't be in hot water if they had disclosed their knowledge of these problems with the property.  If it was remodeled extensively, the sellers were aware of the water damage and chose to cover it up.  Which means the Quaids will be able to get a judgement against them and the sellers will have to pay for the repairs.  But the Quaids should've had a home inspection.  (I'm assuming they didn't because nothing has been mentioned about one having been done.)

If the sellers are indeed negotiating with the Quaids, then they knew about the defects and covered them up.  They will end up paying for the repairs because they should have disclosed those defects to begin with.
Nov 16, 2011 6:34AM
And he's not even the crazy one in the family.
Nov 16, 2011 6:19AM
Even 'certified' inspections are lacking in many ways. 
I would find the best builder/remodeler I could and pay him to examine it for me.  Keep the real estate agents out of that part of the deal.  They tend to refer the people who make  light of things so the deal goes easier.

Nov 16, 2011 6:11AM
Hey Stupid.  Ever hear of a home inspection?
Nov 16, 2011 5:58AM

To Riche7556:  Just to clarify a point; in the State of Texas, the disclosures are filled out by the sellers, not the Realtor.  It is unlikely that the Realtor will have any knowledge of defects unless the seller makes their Realtor aware.  If their Realtor is aware of a material defect, then by law the Realtor is required to make sure it is disclosed even if the seller tells them not to.  


Personally (I am a Real Estate Broker),  if I saw evidence of remodelling or what looked like water damage (or other damage/potential problem), I would ask the seller (or agent) about it directly, not just wait for them to bring it up, no matter whom I was representing.  It could be that the sellers really weren't aware of some of the problems with their house.  There are plenty of shifty contractors out there.  Remember the problems Sandra Bullock had with her new house? 


Regardless, I do feel bad for the Quaids; it sounds like they got alot more than they bargained for, in a bad way.

Nov 16, 2011 5:50AM
Housing inspectors have been known to take money from realtors under the table to ignore faults!
Nov 16, 2011 5:11AM

Always hire the certified housing inspector in your area hated the most by realtors.  His expenses will almost always be redeemed at the bargaining table.


Accompany him on his inspection, ensuring he crawls from the attic through the basement of your intended investment.  Expect a detail report on all structual, electrical, and plumbing condition.



Nov 16, 2011 4:57AM
I'm wondering about the water intrusion?  We haven't had rain in Texas in months!  Lake levels are at their lowest in decades and no rain means no roof leaks.  Hope it gets resolved!
Nov 16, 2011 4:47AM
In certain states they can also go against the realtor and broker if they had any knowledge of the conditions. 
Nov 16, 2011 4:39AM
Has anyone ever watched Holmes Inspections on HGTV, 90% of so called Home Inspectors have NO CLUE what they are doing. And the new home buyers always get ripped off because when people know there is something wrong with their home THEY LIE. Disclosures are a great idea, but most people won't tell you the truth, cause in this market they just want to sell. Had this been a purchase anyone listed here is commenting on you would be sueing the seller also.
Nov 16, 2011 4:19AM

Funny how hateful and demeaning most of you are about the relative topic you chose to post about.


1. saying home inspectors and realators and bankers whom are all professionals are all crooked is just stupid!

2. saying the buyers should have to live with their purchase and should have known better is stupid as well!

3. saying the rats were there first etc is just plain mean and oh yes, stupid!


conclusion, most of you who comment here are STUPID!

Nov 16, 2011 3:47AM
Oh Please, get over yourselves and shut up.
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