It’s one of the biggest moments in your life… the door of your new home opens, and the previous home owners have left a disaster. The space is dirty, there are belongings left behind, there is a hole in the wall and the yard is a mess. What should you, being the new home owner, do now? What can you expect from your realtor? And how could this have been prevented?
The purchase contract of a home states: “When the Buyer obtains possession, the Property will be in substantially the same condition as it was in when this Contract was accepted.”
However, most often there are 30 or 60 days between buying and key release, and anything can happen in that time.
The best thing to do is to immediately call your lawyer and explain the situation. Add pictures if possible. You only receive the keys after your lawyer transferred the purchase price to the seller’s lawyer. Now these issues came up and your lawyer can’t just call the sellers’ lawyer and ask money back. The best he can do is call the seller’s lawyer and see if they can come to any agreement. A lot will depend on the situation. If it just junk in the yard, you may have to take your loss and clean up yourself. But did the seller take out a complete wall that was there when you bought it? This clause then comes into effect. In this situation, the role of your realtor is very limited. It must be dealt with on a level that involves a lawyer.
Just realize that if the lawyers can’t solve the issue, your only option is to sue the sellers in court
Prevent a disaster with a walk-through
When you purchase the home, you can ask your realtor to add a term (not a condition) to the contract that you want to inspect the home 24 hours prior to possession. This way the sellers must grant you access to the property. This is also good practice when you buy a home that used to be a rental property. If this term is not in the contract, you do not have the right to go into the home prior to the possession date!
If this term is not in the contract, you do not have the right to go into the home prior to the possession date
Negotiating terms in a real estate contract
When you are negotiating with the seller and you like something repaired in the home, you can ask your realtor to add a term. For example, you can ask for the cracked window to get repaired, with a hold back of a certain amount of dollars. The amounts must be in line with the actual cost. You cannot ask for a $10,000 hold back for a $1500 window. This amount is withheld by the buyers’ lawyer when the money is transferred to the sellers’ lawyer. Another example could be if there is a lot of junk in the yard. You can put a term in the purchase contract, that the junk must be removed with a hold back of a certain amount of dollars, for example, $500. If the pile of junk has been removed by possession, then the seller will still get his $500. If the junk still in the yard, you as the buyer keeps the $500. You can call a company like 1800-Junk to have everything removed.Understand that these terms and conditions in a contract must be negotiated and signed. If buyer and seller don’t agree to a term, the buyer has to take the risk or negotiate more on the actual purchase price.
Overall, we, Tanja and Ariette, are quite impressed in general with how sellers leave their home for the new buyers. On many occasions, we made sure that a term was written in the contract. When possession came, the promise was kept by the seller.
The information above is general information. This information is not meant to be legal advice upon which anyone may rely. If you have questions about a specific property or transaction, please speak to counsel for definitive advice.