Couple finds property damage same day as home closing, seller allegedly delays payment

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Mike and Christy Dewey closed on their home only to find it in worse condition than when it was inspected. This was late January.

"You're supposed to be excited when you buy a new home and from the day we closed, from the day we left there and came to our new home it's been nothing but stress," Christy Dewey said.

The couple learned a tree had uprooted and busted the asphalt, damaged the curb, and another tree.

"According to the city, it happened like 1:00 in the morning," Dewey said.

That was hours before the couple closed on the property. Dewey said the driveway area still 'looks like junk.'

Months later, the driveway remains in disrepair. The Deweys said the seller’s insurance agreed to pay for the fix, and the money went to the seller. The family said the seller paid for the curb repair but still wasn’t giving up the close to $1,600 for the driveway work.

"Now it's summer. We want our kid to ride the bike down the driveway. We're at her mercy," Dewey stated.

The couple said reaching out to the seller proved useless.

"She then reached out to me and said don't ever contact me again," Dewey said.

So the Deweys communicated with the seller's realtor and called her insurance company.

Dewey said, "That's when they said they tried to reach out to her several times and have left her messages, and they get nothing back from her. So they advised us to get a lawyer."

But first, they gave the FOX 17 Problem Solvers a call.

The Problem Solvers knocked at what's listed as the seller's new home and also left her a phone message. Within hours after placing the call, the seller said the check's been delivered to A1 Asphalt.

The asphalt company confirmed in an email it received the check that very day. The seller of the property told FOX 17 this sort of thing is a process and that the only dilemma was that she'd been traveling. The Deweys said this was a repeated excuse.

The seller also claims the check was written before FOX 17 contacted her and just so happened to be delivered the same day.

In this case, the Deweys did not have a realtor. FOX 17 spoke with the Grand Rapids Association of Realtors on how a situation like this can best be avoided.

Julie Reitberg, GRAR's CEO, stated, "Should we do a walkthrough before closing? And one of the things that a realtor will tell at closing, one of the questions asked will be 'is the property in the same condition as it was when we signed the purchase agreement?' And for your purposes today, that's a very important question to ask and did I get a seller's disclosure form?"

So if you don’t use a realtor, asking for a final walkthrough may be useful before signing the papers.

Work on the driveway is expected to start tomorrow.

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