August 14, 2018:

How to Avoid Getting Sued When Selling

There are many good reasons to engage a reputable Realtor® in the purchase or sale of a home, and one of them is to help you avoid potential pitfalls that may arise by a lack of sound advice. The biggest of these pitfalls is the possibility of getting sued when selling your home.

There are two categories to be aware of to avoid a lawsuit when selling your home: disclosure when listing your property and the state you leave your home in once it is sold.

Disclosure

There are things a seller must disclose when listing their home for sale such as latent defects or if it is a stigmatized home, but don’t assume that anything that doesn’t strictly fall into these categories should be swept under a rug. Always err on the side of disclosing more, not less.

Although this idea may make you nervous, Rick Davis, real estate lawyer, says: “In the vast majority of cases, disclosing the additional information (especially if it is something that was previously repaired), will not cause a buyer to back out or ask for a price reduction.”

If something on the property was repaired properly, this shouldn’t hold anything up. The question you have to ask is this: if you were the buyer and your new neighbour ran over to tell you about a deficiency in your new home that was not disclosed to you, would you consider pursuing this legally? Bear in mind that the information typically gets around to the buyer anyway, so be upfront about it and avoid problems.

Rentals 

Another very important area that easily can be missed is rentals.  More and more furnaces are being leased instead of purchased, and, believe it or not, this is a major obstacle for buyers to swallow, particularly if they are caught off guard with it. Typically, the payouts can be thousands of dollars and can easily kill a deal. Verifying and disclosing all rental equipment is critical when selling your home. A Realtor® will walk you through all the potential items that can be rented. The typical rental items in a home are water heaters, water softeners, air conditioners, propane tanks, furnaces, and alarm systems.

Keep cleaning your sold home

Once you’ve sold your home, you’ll likely breathe a sigh of relief that it no longer has to look like a sparkling clean showroom 24/7. Unfortunately, you can’t stop keeping up your home altogether. When you move out, it should be left in turn-key clean condition, not only as a courtesy to the new home owner and because it’s the right thing to do, but also to avoid problems by fulfilling your legal obligations. Most purchase and sale agreements state in Schedule A that the home is to be broom swept and left in clean order. And remember, on the date of closing, the buyer usually does a walk-through once they obtain possession of the home. Anything that seems out of order from what is mentioned in the Agreement of Purchase and Sale may be addressed to the lawyer for recourse.

Removing chattel

Anything not nailed down or permanently secured in place that was not included in the Agreement of Purchase and Sale should be removed from the home. You may think that leaving spare bricks, flooring pieces, a block of countertop or a pile of spare paint cans is helpful to the new owner, but sometimes it is actually a burden. Check with the purchaser first to see if they would like any of these items left behind. If the new owner is choosing to perform some renovations when they move in any way, these items will not only be useless but actually be a burden to them. It’s easy to match a paint colour without the paint can, and many purchasers choose to re-paint as an easy refresh to a home anyway. Unless something has been specifically requested and agreed upon in the Agreement of Purchase and Sale, remove it.

Topping it up & keeping receipts

There a number of factors that could potentially apply with regard to making sure your home is in tip-top shape for the new owner to move in. If the home has oil or propane as a fuel source, the seller is required to ensure that the tank is topped up and full when they leave. Do not leave the tank near empty and the new owner in the cold. Also remember to keep any receipts for oil top-ups, septic tank clean-ups, or pool-closing fees to share with your lawyer.


Go full out®

Anyone who is a client of Faris Team knows that this is the cornerstone of our business. We really believe in going full out® for our clients, and we encourage you to consider doing the same for the new owner of your home. If you want to go the extra mile, compile a portfolio of manuals for key appliances and/or equipment that may be staying with the home. This will provide the new owner with a reference for operation or in the event of an emergency or repair.  Also leave valuable items such as spare keys, mailbox keys and a list of codes for security alarms or garage door openers. Your neighbours will thank you when you spare them the 1 AM alarm malfunctions.

Be sure to disclose any issues with your home from the start, and continue to take pride in it, keeping it clean right until the last day to ensure the closing transaction goes as smoothly as possible. Nobody wants to deal with negative recourse after the closing. Your home has served you well and now it’s time to pass on that good fortune to the new home owner!


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