Closing day for a house deal is stressful. But no matter how well you plan, you must be prepared for unforeseen things to arise. If you handle them the right way, your deal will still close and more importantly, you’ll be satisfied with the result.
Here are some the things that I have seen come up:
Where is my privacy? A seller advertised the home as having large evergreens in the backyard, giving year round privacy. The sellers moved out a week before closing and gave their neighbour permission to trim the branches on the neighbour’s side of the fence. The neighbour proceeded to remove all the branches, taking away the entire privacy of the backyard. The buyers noticed this just before closing and were upset.
The solution was to plant eight cedars in the space, creating instant privacy at a cost of about $1,200 which the seller paid. Problem solved.
There is a skunk under the porch: The buyers found a family of skunks under the front porch on the day before closing. The seller’s lawyer said it was not the seller’s responsibility to remove the skunks from the property. It is difficult to tell who would win if this went to court. The seller paid a pest control company $250 to remove the skunks. These companies also specialize in trapping raccoons and removing termites as well. Problem solved.
The furnace is not working: Most real estate agreements say home systems and appliances must work on closing. When buyers do the final visits, problems arise if they notice that things aren’t working. The best way to resolve this is to get an estimate to fix the problem and then offer the seller the option of fixing the problem themselves or giving the buyer a credit for the repair.
There is an outstanding City permit: This typically means the owner of the home has started work that needed a building permit, but did not have the inspector sign off when the work was finished. The buyer must have proof the work was in fact done correctly or else the buyer will be responsible to fix this after closing. If the permit related to work done by a prior owner who was not the actual seller, then it is possible that title insurance will solve the issue. Otherwise, it is best to contact the City, arrange for an inspector to come out to conduct whatever inspection is necessary to close the permit. This may require extending the closing date for a few days to get it done.
I can’t get in the front door: I have seen situations where the seller leaves one key for the buyer and the rest of them are on the kitchen counter. The problem is that there are two locks on the front door. In this situation, buyers should call a 24 hour locksmith. The cost will be the seller’s responsibility.
If you relax and look for common-sense solutions, most closing day issues can be overcome to the satisfaction of both buyers and sellers.
More real estate columns by Mark Weisleder
Mark Weisleder is a Toronto real estate lawyer. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org