Detroit, MI asked in Real Estate Law for Michigan

Q: Bought a home that was listed as having a well..there was no well...a 10 ft cistern was hidden in a small crawl space

In century 21 listing and on stated there is a well...the sellers agent never gave me sellers contact info. All attorneys i talked to want a bunch of money to work for me, but I went with no water for 9 weeks and had to pay almost 6,000 for a well to be put in...I dont feel like I should be responsible..seller lied!! That was all the money I had left and it was supposed to be for changes i wanted to make to my home and a small nest egg for emergency....I am disabled, a single woman...this is not right and i believe century 21 and the seller are responsible for making this right

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2 Lawyer Answers
Brent T. Geers
Brent T. Geers
  • Grand Rapids, MI
  • Licensed in Michigan

A: Not sure if a cistern would qualify as a well. But caveat emptor! It costs money to sue, and I'm not sure if the damages are sufficient to make it worth your's - or an attorney's - while.

Kenneth V Zichi agrees with this answer

Kenneth V Zichi
Kenneth V Zichi
  • Fowlerville, MI
  • Licensed in Michigan

A: A cistern and a well are two VERY different things but a simple non-technical inspection can reveal the difference. I’m afraid you’re not going to like this answer, but as the old adage says, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Did you look at the house before buying it? Did you hire an inspector? What did the seller’s disclosure statements say about the ‘well’? Did you ask for health department records? Did you do an inspection or hire one to be done?

Are you getting the gist of the kinds of things you will need to overcome in order to prevail in a lawsuit? Caveat emptor is a real thing.

You may well have a cause of action against the seller and/or the listing agent but you need to prove they intentionally mislead you. This is not necessarily going to be easy or cheap to do.

Buying a house without inspecting the property (either on your own if you know what you’re doing or by hiring qualified physical inspectors) and a legal review of the title and offer/closing paperwork (yes, you need to have an attorney review your offer and closing paperwork BEFORE you make an offer!) is risky. You’ve discovered one of those risks.

As noted, it may well cost more than $6000 to try this case. This may be the cost of ‘tuition’ for your lesson to have a lawyer review paperwork and an inspector look at the physical house before buying property.

— this answer is offered for information only and does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney/client relationship. If you believe you may still have a cause of action you should consult with a local licensed attorney.

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