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CONTRACTS 6: Do you understand the clauses in your Purchase Agreement?

This case arises out of plaintiff’s purchase of a personal residence from defendants (sellers) in 2016. Sellers had completed a Seller’s Disclosure Statement (SDS) on August 8, 2015, which they had updated on December 30, 2015. Pertinent to the issues here, the SDS indicated that the house had a geothermal heating system that was in working order. Further, the SDS indicated that there were features of the property deemed in common with the adjoining landowners, including roads, whose use or responsibility for maintenance may have an effect on the property.

In May 2016, plaintiff and sellers executed a purchase agreement for the sale of the subject property. Defendant W, an independent agent with Keller Williams Realty, represented sellers in the transaction.

Pertinent to this appeal, the purchase agreement contained an “as-is-condition” clause, providing:

AS IS CONDITION: Purchaser acknowledges that Seller has provided Purchaser a required Seller’s Disclosure Statement. Purchaser has been afforded an independent inspection of the property and the Purchaser affirms that Purchaser has examined the above described property and is satisfied with the physical condition of the structure thereon and purchases said property in an “AS IS CONDITION,” subject only to the rights of a property inspection.

It is further agreed that Keller Williams Realty and its agents have made no representations or warranties of any kind nor assume any responsibility for representations made by Seller or any cooperating broker pertaining to the condition of the property. The purchase agreement also contained an arbitration clause.

In December 2016, several months after the closing, the geothermal furnace allegedly failed. Plaintiff maintained that he was informed that it was necessary to replace the unit

On March 23, 2018, plaintiff initiated the instant action by filing a complaint. The complaint alleged that before execution of the purchase agreement, defendants knowingly made representations attesting to the proper working condition of the property’s geothermal heating system, even though defendants knew that these representations were false and that the furnace was broken or showed signs of potential breakdown. The complaint further alleged that sellers omitted facts regarding ownership of the private road and its condition.

Plaintiff sought to void the purchase agreement on this basis and requested damages equal to the purchase price, the mortgage payments he had made on the home, and the cost of repairing the private road.

On May 2, 2018, in lieu of filing an answer, defendants moved for summary disposition pursuant to MCR 2.116(C)(7), (8), and (10). The trial court granted defendants’ motion for summary disposition under MCR 2.116(C)(7), concluding that the claims against the realty companies were barred by the valid release contained in the purchase agreement and that the claims against sellers were required to be resolved in arbitration because they fell within the scope of the arbitration clause in the purchase agreement.

Finding the right attorney to assist with the purchase, sale or acquisition of real estate is critical.

Whether you are buying or selling a home or you are involved in a commercial real estate transaction, an experienced real estate attorney can make a world of difference.

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REAL ESTATE 40: Tax Tribunal denied petitioner’s claim of a principal residence exemption (PRE).

MCL 211.7cc(2) provides that an owner of property can claim the PRE by filing an affidavit that must state that the property is owned and occupied as a principal residence by that owner of the property on the date that the affidavit is signed and shall state that the owner has not claimed a substantially similar exemption, deduction, or credit on property in another state.

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REAL ESTATE 38: Plaintiff fails to make land contract payments.

The land contract stated that T Company sold real property to plaintiff. The land contract further stated that if plaintiff failed to make a monthly payment, T Company could execute the quitclaim deed, thereby terminating plaintiff’s rights to the real property under the land contract.

DIVORCE 29: Spousal support in gross is non-modifiable, whereas periodic is subject to modification.

As the name implies, periodic spousal support payments are made on a periodic basis. Periodic spousal support payments are subject to any contingency, such as death or remarriage of a spouse, whereas spousal support in gross is paid as a lump sum or a definite sum to be paid in installments. In addition, one major difference between the two types of spousal support is modifiability. Spousal support in gross is non-modifiable, whereas periodic spousal support is subject to modification pursuant to MCL 555.28.1.

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PROBATE 28: Probate court enters a protective order providing support for a community spouse.

A probate court’s consideration of the couple’s circumstances cannot involve an assumption that the institutionalized spouse should receive 100% free medical care under Medicaid or an assumption that a community spouse is entitled to maintain his or her standard of living. Medicaid is a need-based program, and a Medicaid recipient is obligated to contribute to his or her care.

REAL ESTATE 36: Plaintiff argued that her claim was not time-barred because it did not accrue until the grandmother’s death.

Plaintiff’s interest in the subject property is best characterized as a remainder estate, because her right to possession of the property was postponed until the occurrence of a specific contingency, that being the deaths of the grandparents. Plaintiff pursued this action within the 15-year limitation period; accordingly, this action is not barred by MCL 600.5801(4).

LITIGATION 6: The terms of the agreement prevails over the course of performance.

The trial court determined that under the UCC, the express terms of the parties’ agreements prevailed over the course of their performance and course of dealing. Although a course of performance may show that parties have waived a specific contractual term under MCL 440.1303(6), the statute does not similarly provide that a course of dealing may demonstrate waiver.

PROBATE 27: Petitioner filed a petition for mental-health treatment.

In support of the allegations, petitioner attached clinical certificates from a physician and a psychiatrist who observed respondent at the hospital. Both doctors diagnosed respondent with bipolar disorder, determined that she displayed a likelihood of injuring herself and that she did not understand the need for treatment, and recommended a course of treatment that consisted of 60 days of hospitalization and 90 days of outpatient care.

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FAMILY LAW 32: Trial court committed error in failing to address whether there was an established custodial environment.

On appeal, plaintiff argues that the trial court failed to make any findings regarding (1) the child’s established custodial environment, (2) the child’s best interests regarding the grant of primary physical custody to defendant, (3) the child’s best interests with respect to parenting time, and (4) the child’s best interests pertaining to the parties’ dispute over daycare.

PROBATE 25: Daughter removed as personal representative of the estate.

the probate court determined that Daughter J had managed the estate in a manner that promoted her own interests as a beneficiary over the interests of the estate. The probate court found that such management demonstrated mismanagement of the estate and that removal of Daughter J was therefore in the best interests of the estate.

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REAL ESTATE 32: Plaintiffs and defendants executed a second easement.

Plaintiffs requested that the trial court, either through reformation of the First Easement or interpretation of the Second Easement, quiet title in favor of plaintiffs and declare them to be the owners of an easement to access Lake Superior through the ravine on defendants’ property, enjoin defendants from interfering with their use of the easement, and order compensation for damages to the stairs.

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