In the 1986 movie, the Money Pit, a young couple move into a home that is terribly dilapidated. While falling down stairways and leaking bathtubs in this movie are enjoyable for comedic value, no one enjoys these things when they happen to you!
A home is the single largest purchase most people will ever make. Therefore, it is important to take the time to investigate your purchase prior to closing and not be pressured by lawyers, real estate agents or family members. Also, you should be careful not to fall in love with a home (too much) prior to proper inspection. You may be excited about your new home, but if you choose to waive your inspection, miss defects, or close on an “as is where is basis,” disaster may follow. For example, in Anderson v. Lawrence, 2013 NBQB 21, Justice Morrison of the Court of Queen’s Bench of New Brunswick heard the home purchasers’ claim against the vendors’ for negligent and fraudulent misrepresentation. The purchasers suffered serious water damage in their basement and the ceilings in the main floor of the house caused by a leaky roof.
The purchasers had viewed the property prior to purchase and saw water in the basement and detected a musty smell, but were assured by the vendors and a real estate agent that the problems had been solved. There were also issues with the septic system. Finally, the purchasers received 17 acres of land rather than 34 acres, as the vendors represented.
The Court in Anderson, supra held that the vendors both negligently and fraudulently misrepresented the water leakage and the size of the land. As a result, the Court ordered the plaintiffs were entitled to $24,339.49 for costs of repairs and $13,070 for the value of the missing 17 acres of land in addition to interest and legal costs.
This case is a helpful lesson to purchasers of homes to be extremely critical before committing to a purchase. It’s easy to end up with your own version of a money pit! Here are some helpful tips to assist you with the purchase of your home:
1. Hire a licensed property inspector. The cost ranges from $200-$500, but will be worth every penny if your inspector finds issues that you may not be able to see with your own eyes;
2. Use checklists to evaluate the condition of the home. Here is a link to a helpful checklist that you may wish to use to evaluate the condition of the home. As stated in the checklist, it should not be relied upon nor be a replacement for a certified home inspection. We make no representations or warranties about the accuracy of the information either, but believe it is a helpful starting point;
3. Attend the inspection with your licensed inspector. Make sure you attend the home with your inspector and ask lots of questions;
4. Read the inspection report carefully and discuss with you inspector, legal counsel and real estate agent;
5. Research the inspector. Not all inspectors are created equally. Take the time to ask potential inspectors questions about their experience, qualifications, costs, etc.