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Last modified: 2022-06-01 | Approximate reading time 5 mins
Is it time to sell your property? Remember to check its condition before putting it on the market. If a buyer spends a few hundred thousand dollars to purchase your property, they certainly expect this new acquisition to be without problems. Moreover, the buyer is entitled to sue you if they discover any hidden defects after purchase.
To avoid disagreements with your buyer and optimize your chances of selling your property, it’s strongly recommended that you have your home inspected by professionals. Selling a house with hidden defects is punishable by law and results in heavy financial losses for the seller. This is why it’s important to protect yourself against it!
Before getting to the heart of the matter, it’s necessary to clearly define the meaning of "hidden defect". A defect is an issue that lowers the quality of a property and prevents its new owner from fully enjoying it. You should know that a hidden defect is serious, so much so that if the buyer is aware of it before the sale, he’ll likely need to cancel the real estate transaction.
A hidden defect is not apparent and cannot be detected by a simple examination. It’s unknown to the purchaser and is something that already existed at the time of purchase. We must mention that a seller is responsible for a hidden defect, even if they were unaware of its existence at the time of the sale. It could be a crumbling foundation, mould in the walls, rot in the attic, and so on.
If you sell a home that contains a hidden defect, the buyer can sue you. This is because the law provides a warranty that protects buyers against this common issue. Depending on the situation, the buyer may obtain one of the following: a price reduction for the house, reimbursement for repairs that were necessary to remedy the defect, reimbursement for damages suffered by the buyer, and in more serious cases, the cancellation of the sale.
You may as well say that selling a property in poor condition can put you in a difficult financial situation, hence the interest in doing a detailed inspection of your property before putting it on the market.
On the other hand, some sellers, depending on the circumstances, will prefer to sell without a legal warranty. This is particularly the case for older people who want to free themselves from all potential future legal remedies and not burden their estate with these complaints. The note "without legal warranty" in the contract means that the purchase is at the risk of the buyer. It is therefore recommended to do a more thorough pre-purchase inspection than usual.
It’s important to keep all the evidence that pertains to the condition of your home over the years. If you’ve renovated or made major changes, make sure to keep all invoices plus a detailed description of the work that was done. On the one hand, this allows you to optimize your chances of selling your property by showing these documents to potential buyers.
On the other hand, it’s an element that reassures and gives the buyer confidence. Besides, if the warranties are still in effect, your buyer can contact a contractor if there’s a problem.
Note that it’s important to disclose any relevant information that may harm the buyer such as fire or water damage. According to case law, the buyer has the right to be aware of any events that may cause their purchase offer to change. In other words, they must be able to make an informed choice when buying, otherwise, they have the right to cancel the transaction or negotiate a better price.
By having your property inspected by a professional, you’ll increase your chances of selling a house in good condition. The pre-sale inspection consists of analyzing the visible and easily accessible components of the various systems of the house (plumbing, heating, roofing, insulation) to detect possible problems and hidden defects. It also makes it possible to learn about existing problems and correct them quickly before proceeding with a sale.
This pre-sale inspection is a great way to guard against possible legal action after your house is sold. As mentioned, supporting documents will make it easier for you to demonstrate your faith and prove that the defect in question was not detected at the time of the building inspection.
If your inspector discovers a hidden defect, you must notify the buyer in writing even if it means losing the sale. In this case, the buyer will have the choice between forgoing the sale, negotiating the price of the house or finding another arrangement.
If you suspect hidden defects, it's better to hire a professional architect or technologist to find out. A technologist is governed by the Order of Professional Technologists of Quebec. They'll possess a professional license and be subject to ethical standards. Further, they'll take responsibility for the projects they manage.
Unlike the building inspector, the technologist receives three years of training. Both the building inspector and the technologist must have professional insurance that will cover any errors or omissions at the inspection.
If you don’t have ample time to devote to selling your home or if you’d rather rely on a professional, you can hire a real estate broker. Working with a real estate broker has many advantages. Indeed, the broker generally has a circle of contacts or potential clients that’ll help you to make the sale quickly. They’ll know the market in your neighbourhood as well as the real estate market.
In addition to taking care of all the documentation and procedures for the sale of your home, your real estate broker can offer you advice. For those unfamiliar with real estate, hiring a broker can bring peace of mind both to the sale itself as well as with the advice given before putting your home on the market.
The profession of a real estate broker is governed by OACIQ, the Organisme d’autoréglementation du courtage immobilier du Québec. In addition to this training, they must pass exams to hold a license. It’s also possible to check your broker's file on the OACIQ website before committing your home’s sale. Remember that you also have responsibilities, including informing them of hidden defects and following the sales strategy.
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