Archive for January, 2015

Do Sellers Have to Tell What’s Wrong With Their Property?

Thursday, January 29th, 2015

Do Sellers Have to Tell What’s Wrong With Their Property? | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamYou’re looking to buy the perfect Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County or Edmonton area house, or condo, or acreage. You certainly don’t want a property that has anything wrong with it, but the law will protect you …. won’t it?

Well. Maybe, maybe not.

As a buyer, you should be aware that the rule of “caveat emptor” (buyer beware) applies to the purchase of real estate in Alberta. That means it is up to the buyers to satisfy themselves that the property is right for them in every way, including its physical condition (which is why I always recommend that buyers get a home inspection). Believe it or not, sellers have no legal responsibility to tell you everything that’s wrong with their property. They do not, for example, have to point out to you the leaky bathroom faucet, or the stains on the carpet, or the squeaky stair third from the bottom.

So, what IS the seller’s responsibility? What DO they have to tell you?

According to the Alberta Real Estate Association, sellers in Canada only have to tell you about material latent defects. These are defects that meet all three of these conditions:

  1. The defect is not visible or discoverable through a reasonable inspection. That’s what makes it “latent”. (A “patent” defect, on the other hand, is out in the open. These are things like deteriorated roof tiles or cracks in the foundation. Sellers don’t have to tell you about these, because the assumption is that you or your home inspector will discover them for yourselves. BUT sellers had better not try to cover these up either, or they risk being charged with fraud.)
  2. The defect is material (that is, it’s fundamental to the property; it’s serious and it matters!). This type of deficiency may make the property dangerous to occupants or unfit for habitation. Think about a building that is structurally unsound, or constructed on contaminated soil, or full of toxic mould. You may recall the Fort McMurray Penhorwood condos in the news since 2011. These buildings, which are now being demolished, were in such dire shape that owners and residents could not even return to the buildings to retrieve personal possessions. Definitely a “material” defect.
  3. The defect is known to the seller. (Tough to prove this….)

 

Of course, legal stuff is rarely black and white, or cut and dried, or whatever other metaphor you choose! Plenty of “what ifs” and gray areas here.

  • As noted, material latent defects are those that make a property dangerous or unfit to live in. But they can also include circumstances that make the property unfit for the buyer’s purpose. If the buyers’ purpose is to live in a home that has not been the scene of a crime, they would not be too happy to later discover that their dream home had been the scene of a murder or used as a grow op! (See my blog article “Murder, Mayhem and Seller’s Disclosure”).
  • A material latent defect might also exist if:
    • the defect is very expensive or difficult to repair (like the Fort McMurray condos).
    • the sellers have received notice from their municipality that the defect MUST be remedied (and they haven’t done so); for example, a permanent or integral part of the building encroaching on public land.
    • the seller does not have appropriate permits for the property, such as finishing the basement or constructing a large deck or garage without permission.
    • the seller does not reveal that the basement floods every time it rains, or that inadequate wiring has previously caused a fire. (Note though, that if the problem occurred in the past but has since been adequately repaired, the seller doesn’t have to mention it. See what I mean about gray areas?)

What recourse do buyers have if they feel they’ve been victimized?

The buyers would have to sue the sellers and prove in court that all three conditions of material latent defects have been met. Damages could then be awarded for the cost of repairing the defect and damage caused by it, and maybe for loss of use and enjoyment of the property. However, the chances of getting reparation, especially in a timely fashion? Ask the poor hapless Fort McMurray condo owners! So much better, as a buyer, to do your homework! Communicate clearly what you will and will not accept, examine the property carefully, ask a million questions, and get a professional home inspection!

As an Alberta REALTOR®, I can help you avoid costly and stressful purchase situations. Call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at barry@barryt.ca, or contact me here.

Garbage Disposal in Parkland County

Friday, January 23rd, 2015

Garbage Disposal in Parkland County | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamWhether you call it waste management or taking out the trash, disposing of your garbage when you live on an acreage in Parkland County or elsewhere is not usually as simple as leaving it at the curb as you would in Spruce Grove or Stony Plain or Parkland County’s hamlet of Entwhistle.

Luckily, country residents are not left entirely to their own devices. The days of burying or burning your garbage are, thankfully, long over. Parkland County has systems in place along with strict guidelines as to what you may or may not do, and how and where unwanted items are to be disposed of.

Parkland County residents are provided with a Solid Waste Disposal Access card  that allows them to drop off their regular household waste and recyclables at no charge at any of the County’s transfer stations. Charges apply for items not considered regular household waste (such as demolition or construction materials, commercial waste, large appliances and the like). Parkland County no longer maintains landfill sites or dumps. Instead, in 2008, these sites were converted to transfer stations which provide a wide range of waste disposal services. For a full list of the County’s transfer stations, their locations and hours of operation, what they’ll accept, charges, and the like, visit the webpage Transfer Station Locations & Information.

For people who don’t have the time or ability to take their waste and recyclable items to a facility, curbside pickup is available for a price through private contractors in some areas of Parkland County. Contact Public Works at 780-968-8448 for more information.

The County also maintains a Take It Or Leave It facility at the Parkland County Transfer Station and Recycle Centre (located at 52514 Range Road 11, South of Hwy 16A on Range Road 11). Residents of Parkland County can bring items that they believe other people might have a use for, or take possession of items other residents have donated. Read about this unique service, and what items are acceptable, on the webpage Take It Or Leave It.

To learn about all aspects of living in Parkland County, browse through their website.

I’m always happy to help you with questions related to acreage living. Call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at barry@barryt.ca, or contact me here.

January May Be the Best Time to Buy a New Spruce Grove or Stony Plain Home

Tuesday, January 13th, 2015

January May Be the Best Time to Buy a New Spruce Grove or Stony Plain Home | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamUsually I tell my clients in Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County and the Edmonton region who are looking to buy a home that the best time to buy is when they’re ready, regardless of what the market is doing. But some new statistics from TheRedPin.com suggest a certain time of the year is better if you want the lowest price, while another time during the year offers the best selection.

The infographic “5 Year GTA Breakdown – The Best Time to Buy and Sell Your Home”  contains some interesting data. The infographic is based on Toronto home sales, but there is reason to believe things are not so different in our part of the country.

You’ll find the best housing prices in January.

In Toronto at least, the price difference was huge: $16,000 less than the next least expensive month (July) and a whopping $60,000 less than the most expensive month (May). There may be several reasons for this:

• Fewer people are looking to buy a home in January, maybe due to the cold weather or to after-Christmas bills. Fewer buyers = less competition and therefore lower prices.
• Sellers who list their homes in the winter usually do so because they have to sell and may be willing to negotiate a lower price.
• January listings may have been on the market for a while and sellers may feel pressure to sell for a lower price.
• Much smaller inventory of homes on the market means lower prices for buyers.

Highest prices (and best selection) in May.

Reasons for this?

• Better weather means it’s easier to get around, more pleasant to view houses, and easier to move one’s belongings. That means more people shopping for a new home.
• Buying a house in May means a move can happen during the summer, which is generally the choice for families with children needing to change schools. This is equally true for sellers with children and is certainly one of the reasons so many people list their home for sale in the spring.
• More buyers, more homes on the market, more competition all spell higher prices.

House prices correlate inversely with days on the market.

Months that show the lowest prices also generally show the longest time on the market. This can mean good news for buyers; a house that’s been on the market for many months may be owned by someone desperate to sell and willing to look at lower offers.

House prices also correlate with the number of homes on the market.

This almost seems counter-intuitive but the data show that the greater the competition (that is, the more homes there are on the market and the more people looking for homes), the higher the price. Conversely, fewer homes on the market = lower price.

I still recommend to my buying clients that their first consideration should be their personal circumstances, but it doesn’t hurt to be aware of trends such as these!

I’m happy to help you find your new home at any time of the year. Call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at barry@barryt.ca, or contact me here.

How to Improve Your Spruce Grove Home’s Indoor Air Quality

Tuesday, January 6th, 2015

How to Improve Your Spruce Grove Home's Indoor Air Quality | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamThe quality of the air in our homes in Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County and the Edmonton region is something we tend to notice more at this time of year when doors and windows are shut tight against winter’s blast.

When we think of air quality we often think of air pollution from cars and factories or smog, haze and ozone. But the air we breathe can be contaminated where we live and work as well.

Find out from an experienced HVAC contractor who is well versed in the movement and control of heat, air, and moisture in buildings. This type of technician will also diagnose and resolve any indoor air quality issues.

For example, to find out whether the air in your home may be affecting your family’s respiratory system, ask yourself the following HVAC questions:

• Does anyone in your household suffer from asthma, allergies or respiratory problems?
• Do their symptoms appear to be worse when they are at home or in specific places at home?
• Has your home undergone significant changes such as the replacement of windows, a complete renovation of the basement, or an addition in the last few years?
• Do you notice excessive window condensation in winter, or is your basement damp or musty in the summer?
• Do you feel the need to use air fresheners or scented candles on a regular basis to keep your home feeling fresh?
• Do you find that odours linger in your home?
• Do you notice stains, spotting or dampness on walls or excessive dust on floors?
• Do visitors to your home suffer from allergic reactions?
• Do pets live in your home?

If you answered yes to more than 2 or 3 of these questions, then ask for a diagnosis to resolve the underlying issues. There are many things that you can do on your own, but there are items that should be left to a qualified professional. Usually, air quality improvements require a systematic and integrated approach – it is unlikely that any one measure solves all problems – and HRAI contractors (members of the Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Institute of Canada) have the training and experience to help you find the most cost effective ways to ensure the air you breathe is as healthy as possible.

In the Consumer Tips section of www.hrai.ca, take a look at the simple things you can do to improve the air quality in your home. The website also has a contractor locator to help you find a local professional.

If you are trying to sell your home, be aware that one of the first things potential buyers will notice is the smell and the quality of the air so it’s worth working to improve it.  I’m happy to help!  Call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at barry@barryt.ca, or contact me here.

(Content of this article courtesy of www.newscanada.com)

Barry Twynam, Realty Executives Leading
#1 14 McLeod Avenue, Spruce Grove, Alberta, T7X 3X3
Tel: 780-962-9696 Cell: 780-910-9669 Fax: 780-962-9699
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