You’ve decided to take the plunge and start looking for a new home. You’re naturally bubbling over with enthusiasm but be sure to stay grounded and not let your emotions take over. Rushing to buy can have many consequences. Here are 3 shortcuts to avoid on your way to finding your dream home.
It’s normal to lose your bearings a bit when you start wading into the real estate market. Research takes time, buyers are quick to bid and you have to always keep your criteria and budget in mind. In this hot market, you might be tempted to take some shortcuts for fear of missing out yet again.
But don’t skip any steps—it could end up costing you time and money!
1- Home inspection
Buyers have the right to a pre-sale home inspection and you should take advantage of it. Having the property inspected by a professional is an important part of finding out more about the home and will save you headaches down the road.
The inspection covers everything you can see: structure, roofing, plumbing, electrical installations and so on, and reveals any apparent defects. Many problems and defects are harder for the average person to spot, including water seepage, mold and foundation issues. Certified inspectors are trained to do just that; you can search the directories of provincial associations, orders or bodies to find one who meets professional standards.
It’s important to know that legally, the buyer is responsible for apparent defects. If there’s a visible issue at the time of the sale that you didn’t detect before the sale went through, you might not have any recourse against the seller. If you forego the pre-sale home inspection, you’ll be liable for anything that could be considered detectable by a careful, diligent buyer at the time of the sale—yes, even if you weren’t the one who didn’t spot the signs of the defect! This decision can have significant consequences and cost you a lot later on.
The broker’s role
To respect professional regulations, your broker will recommend that you have your home fully inspected by a reputable professional. The broker will often attend the inspection so they can advise you depending on what the inspection reveals. Based on the results of an exhaustive report, you’ll be able to make an informed decision and negotiate the selling price and sale conditions. For more information on broker obligations, visit:
In Quebec: Organisme d’autoréglementation du courtage immobilier du Québec (OACIQ).
In Ontario: Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO).
2- Legal warranty
The legal warranty includes both the warranty of ownership and warranty of quality.
The warranty of ownership concerns title defects, meaning it protects you, the buyer, from title defects that could deprive you of your property rights or affect your homeowner rights. Excluding this warranty is rarely recommended.
In exceptional cases, the seller may decide not to guarantee the quality of their property. If so, this must be clearly indicated in the purchase offer. This is known as a sale without legal warranty of quality, at the buyer’s risk and peril; if you accept, you’re agreeing to buy the home “as is.”
Buying a home without legal warranty of quality means you’re purchasing the property in its current condition, without any possible recourse against the seller if hidden defects are found. If you still want to buy the home, the Chambre des notaires du Québec strongly recommends having the property inspected by a qualified professional and negotiating the price to compensate for this lack of recourse.* A declarations by the seller form reporting any factors that could affect the home’s value must also be completed. In Ontario, your lawyer can advise you.
If you decide to buy a home without either of these warranties, it may be difficult to get a mortgage from your financial institution.
3- Certificate of location
When buying a home, it’s important to get an up-to-date certificate of location. This professional document, prepared by a land surveyor, indicates the current condition of the land and everything attached to it. It includes any renovations and landscaping completed since the last certificate of location, on both the land and that surrounding it.
The land surveyor must check very specific things:
- Updated description of the land (such as total surface)
- Easements (such as a public utility or neighbour’s right to access the property)
- Constraints (such as a farming or flood-prone zone)
- Encroachments (such as a neighbour’s construction directly on your property)
- Compliance with various municipal and government regulations
In Quebec, the seller is usually responsible for providing the certificate of location. An up-to-date certificate of location benefits both parties, since the seller who provides the warranty of ownership is preventing the buyer from discovering certain title issues after the sale.
Many professionals are qualified to guide and support you throughout the homebuying process and can save you a lot of headaches. Don’t take shortcuts—use reputable experts. You’ll be glad you did!