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Buying a Home? Make Sure Repairs are Dealt with Before Closing

10 June 2013

Ideally, you’d walk into a home you’re considering purchasing, fall in love with it just the way it is, and buy it. No problems, no clauses or conditions to rely upon, just an easy deal with no bumps in the road. Unfortunately, that rarely happens. And if there are repairs that need to be made to the home before you purchase it, the case can get even more complicated, as one Toronto home buyer has recently found out.

It was in June 2004 that Mark Rosenhek agreed to buy Elizabeth and Angelo Breda’s home on Docliffe Drive for $1.99 million. The home had been built just seven years prior, and the Bredas were the only ones that had ever lived in it.

Of course, Rosenhek did his due diligence, and wouldn’t purchase the home until an inspection had been completed on it. The inspector noticed that the roof had two flat areas, in which water had been pooling for some time and which could later cause leakage into the home. In addition to that there were also some small repairs such as electrical work and flue caps for the chimney that were needed.

The purchase contract was pulled back out, and all parties agreed that the home repairs would be done before the deal closed. Unfortunately, Rosenhek didn’t give it any more thought than that.

The deal closed in September of that year, and Rosenhek moved in shortly after. Neither he nor his lawyer had talked to the Bredas any more about the repairs that were needed, or whether or not they had been done. Shortly after he moved in, he did notice that you could still see pooling water on the roof when looking out a bedroom window.

Still, it was three years before Rosenhek did anything about it. When the water did begin to leak into his dining room, and he learned it would cost $20,000 to repair the roof, it was only at that time that he sued the Bredas for the cost of the roof that had never been fixed.

Unfortunately for Rosenhek, when the case went to court Judge Laurence Patillo of the Ontario Superior Court ruled in favour of the sellers, saying that any repair obligations closed when the deal did. And that if Rosenhek wanted the roof repaired before he purchased, he should have done more to ensure that it had been taken care of.

The case is one that shines a light on a situation so many buyers and sellers are faced with so often. So what’s the best way to deal with it?

The biggest question that comes up when a seller is responsible for the repairs is if they were done adequately enough. And it’s one that the seller and buyer rarely agree on. But there is a way to avoid the argument in the first place.

Instead of asking for, and then continually nagging and checking, to see if home repairs have been done, instead ask the seller to give you a credit for the repair cost. That way when you move in yourself, you can do the job you want to do and hire anyone you want to ensure that it’s done up to your specifications.

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