The proverbial “Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing” is what we all want to avoid.
We all make assumptions based on what we see or what we think we see. Buying a property is no different. We look at the fences surrounding a property and assume that they outline the property lines; we look at a beautiful greenhouse and assume it was built properly and in the right location. The reality is that our assumptions are often not correct.
An example of this is where a property backs onto a green space. You assume the back fence is on the property line but it actually goes 15 metres back into the green space and the yard is actually smaller by that amount.
You bought the property assuming that the yard was massive and now it turns out that the City requires that the fence be relocated to the property line.
Are Real Property Reports A Solution?
The current contract requires that the Seller provide the Buyer a Real Property Report (“RPR”) at least 10 days prior to the closing day. The problem is that even if that contract term is adhered to, the transaction is typically unconditional at that point and there is little time to deal with the relevant issues. There are questions of what your rights are should a problem be discovered at that point.
Ultimately, standard real estate industry practices are responsible for these problems. When a Seller lists a property with a real estate agent, the Listing Agreement stipulates that the Seller has a RPR that reflects the current state of the improvements on the property.
Effective agents will check on this and follow up knowing that the RPR can become a significant problem. Unfortunately, some real estate agents still don’t follow this most basic of requirements and you are left at risk as a result.
Making Your Offer
Before you submit an offer on a property, make sure that your agent is aware of your concerns. Have your agent make the necessary enquiries and seek to obtain a copy of the Real Property Report prior to submitting your offer.
If it isn’t available, ask why and structure your offer accordingly to ensure that you know what it is you are purchasing.