When writing an offer to purchase on a home, as a buyer, you may want to include a term in the Purchase Contract that permits you access to the property before final possession. This helps prevent surprises on possession day and lets you know that the seller’s commitments to fixing or removing items from the property have been fulfilled before you move in.
While it’s a good practice to include a term for a pre-possession walkthrough, it’s also important to manage your expectations and know what options are available to you if you don’t like what you see.
Do I need a pre-possession walkthrough?
Clause 2.4 of the Alberta Residential Purchase Contract addresses the state of the property upon possession and provides you some protections:
The seller represents and warrants that on Completion Day, the Property will be in substantially the same condition as when this contract was accepted and the attached and unattached goods will be in normal working order.
So while the pre-possession walkthrough is not entirely necessary, it can provide you some comfort since you’ll know what you’re walking into on possession day. But it may also cause some undue stress.
You’re excited to move into your new home, but it’s important to manage your expectations. Since the contract stipulates that the property has to be left in “substantially the same condition as when the contract was accepted”, the seller is given some leeway for regular wear and tear. For example, there may be significantly more holes left in the walls from paintings and ornaments than you originally expected, or there could also be small scratches or dents left by the movers. Also, often in their rush to meet their moving deadline, the sellers may not have cleaned the home to your satisfaction (or at all).
If these things are very important to you, talk to your Realtor about including wall repairs, new paint, or professional cleaning as additional terms in the Purchase Contract. Sometimes these will include monetary holdbacks to help ensure the seller keeps up their end of the bargain. But, if you’re negotiating an offer to buy your dream home and want yours to be the most appealing to the seller, be reasonable with your requests. Are you going to renovate and repaint the home anyway? Are you a neat-freak who will scrub everything or hire a cleaning company anyway? Your Realtor will help you include terms and conditions that are important to you.
If there is substantial damage to the home or appliances aren’t working during your pre-possession walkthrough or on possession day, you may have the right to recourse. Talk to your Realtor first (they will be present during your walkthrough and possession anyway) to see if they can work with the seller’s agent to resolve any issues. Most often, you’ll be able to work things out with the seller quickly. If not, you can speak with your lawyer to discuss your options.
It is important to consider how material the issue is to you and how expensive it will be to fight in small claims court versus fixing it yourself. Taking legal action can be a long and pricey process.
Written by CIR REALTY