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I just purchased a home and closed on 10/13/2017. My purchase agreement and on of my other documents listed a basement leak that had been repaired in 2014. However, I noticed a basement leak on 10/14/2017. also, there is an easement on the property that will definitely affect my ability to sell the property in the future. This was not disclosed in any of my paperwork. My realtor says to notify the listing agent and he/she will be responsible for rectifying the situation within 6 months of close. But everywhere else I research says to sue to sell. However, I purchased the home from an estate. What legal recourse do I have for both situations?
Asked on November 22, 2017 under Real Estate Law, Michigan
SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney
Answered 4 years ago | Contributor
IF there was fraud (see below), you could either use that fraud as grounds to rescind or void the sale (return home/title; get money back) or sue the estate (if it has not yet been closed out) for compensation (money back for the cost of repairs or to reflect a diminution in value).
It is fraud IF the seller knew, or reasonably should have known (given their experience with the home, the facts, etc.) of the conditions and failed to dislose them. The problem that you may face is that if it was being sold by an estate, there may have been no one who knew of these things--e.g. the people selling (the estate's personal representative or executor; the heirs) may legitimately have had no knowledge of a leak or easement. If they did lack knowledge, they did not commit fraud and there is no recourse against them: fraud is a nondisclosure of a *known* issue or condition. It is possible that in an estate sale, no one knew of these things, and therefore no one is responsible for them.
(Example: my father passed away last year and afterwards, as personal representative and sole heir, I sold his home, which was located in a different state and which I had only visited once or twice a year for a few days at a time over the past decade. As it developed, when I was there cleaning the home out, there was a heavy rainstorm, and I saw a leak and disclosed it [i.e. there was a roof leak which the buyer would have to fix], but if I had not coincidentally been there when it rained and sold the home without disclosure, I would not be liable for the leak, since I was not aware of it.)
The easement should have been found during the title search, however: you may have recourse to your title insurance or against the title company.
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