By Mark Weisleder

Just when you think you have seen everything in a real estate deal, something new occurs. The important thing is to learn something from whatever happens.

1. They only left us one key. The front door has two locks!

This happens more often than you think. Calling the sellers won’t help because they probably left the rest of the keys on the kitchen counter. The likely choice for a buyer when this happens is to call a locksmith who offers 24-hour service to get you in and then send the bill to the sellers. In my experience this can cost up to $400.

Lesson: Sellers need to make sure that they give their lawyer enough keys to provide access to the buyer after closing. In our office, in most cases we give the sellers a lockbox and just ask them to leave the keys in the lockbox for the buyer on closing.

2. We walked in after closing and the entire home smelled worse than the Seinfeld car.

In most cases, it is hard to sue for these kinds of issues after closing, unless the seller did something to actively conceal the smell when the buyers were visiting the home in the first place.

Lesson: Be wary whenever you smell air freshener throughout the home during an open house. Ask questions and make sure you have the home inspected.

3. I found out my tenant has a pet pig. Can I evict them?

This actually happened to a client of mine. Interestingly, the city had a bylaw permitting certain licensed pigs as pets and since the tenant’s pig was licensed and was not damaging the premises, there was nothing the landlord could do about it.

Lesson: Always check social media when qualifying tenants. If they have an unusual pet, there will likely be a picture of them with the pet on Facebook.

4. The courier with the buyer certified cheques got stuck in traffic and their cell phone died.

This is really not funny. If the buyer lawyer does not make sure that the seller lawyer has the closing funds before 6 pm on the closing day, the seller may be able to cancel the deal. This can be very painful, especially when the seller’s lawyer needs these funds to close another deal for the seller who is buying that same day.

Lesson: More and more law firms are recognizing that it makes much more sense to just electronically transfer funds from buyer to seller lawyer trust accounts, usually using a wire transfer, to avoid these problems from arising in the first place. The money transfer occurs immediately and the deals can close much more quickly and efficiently, especially when someone is buying and selling on the same day. This also permits our firm to close deals on time even if the buyer lender is late in transferring funds to our office. To make this easier, always insert in your agreements that the balance due on closing is to be paid by wire transfer, using the Large Value Transfer System.

5. Who’s been sleeping in my bed?

I had buyers walk into their home after closing only to find someone living in the basement, claiming to be their tenant. He was not there during the home inspection. This person claimed to have a “verbal lease” with the landlord. Police were called and fortunately, the person left within 24 hours.

Lesson: Always have a pre-closing inspection of your home, even on the morning of closing, to make sure that there are no surprises after closing. This includes making sure that the seller removes all the junk and is leaving the home in a clean and broom swept condition, which is indicated on most real estate agreements.


  1. The serious side of the funnies in today’s article (and pigs fly): :

    We need more directly applicable useful information such as in this article, although titled said in jest. Sometimes things said in jest, draws attention to more serious, rememberable matters such as noted herein.

    Make sure you get ALL keys to Her Majesty’s mail boxes. Otherwise the seller will possibly revisit YOUR mailbox, root through the mail, remove theirs, leave yours, accidentally not lock the mailbox properly. It’s not sufficient to do a change of address. And can take three weeks or longer to get your own first mail from YOUR box, except you don’t OWN the box; neither do you rent it. You simply have the right to use it to collect your mail. But only if you have ALL the keys. The nasties sprout evil wings.

    And horror stories abound about rental contracts for alarm services; if you own the equipment, who pays the monthly service costs? Often not addressed sufficiently in an offer. Alarm goes off in middle of the night your first time sleeping at your new location. You call the alarm company who refuses to attend because they don’t have a contract with YOU, even so the issue is addressed in the offer. What do you do? Disconnect at source? Try that and find out. Some lawyers refuse to deal with rental contracts. And typically of course the lawyer is seeing the contract only after acceptance.

    And as regards the LVTS, someone should educate the banks. Most will deny that there is such a system. It’s completely outrageous, the lack of branch skills at many banks. And of course many inquiries are routed offshore, and although very nice, there obviously is a language barrier, thus redirecting you to your branch, many of whom have no idea about LVTS transfers. And certainly those arrangements need to be pre-planned, and often cannot be implemented or set up at the last minute when trying to salvage a horrible situation such as described. Even many lawyers seem to be unaware that this option is available.

    Not all Canadian banks have what is called reciprocal banks in other areas, thus necessitating interaction through the States, often through Bank of America; those receiving pensions in Canada from birth countries will note historically their funds went through New York, America’s City Bank.

    Funds needed for closings can be tied up. We in real estate in Canada, Ontario in particular, seem to be much more organized, systematized, and knowledgeable than many in other domiciles. Case in point, clients from the Deep South moved here, owned a house locally for a few years. Then moved to the southwest States; bought property there. Closing here went nicely, but the closing apparatus on their purchase would not accept closing funds from our local real estate law office. Took three weeks and a delayed closing on the buying end. We had covered all the basics properly here. Prior to LTVS accessibility.

    However, in real estate everything “follows the contract,” and if “it’s” not in the contract, no can do; last minute fixes still require the agreement changes and approvals of all concerned, makings of many such horror stories as noted, or from snowstorm intervention, death by accident or natural causes, en route.

    Try not to close transactions on a Friday, especially Friday of a long weekend. Advise clients that you understand that that they are working (arrange for time off – this important); wrinkles cannot be ironed out on weekends. Govt offices do not work weekends, likewise most closing law offices or title companies.

    Use a calendar judiciously. Closing lawyers can only do so much and often a closing is attached to “a string” of other related transactions. That can get really expensive, as noted. Even more so if your clients are from out of town, having children, pets, or medical issues to take into consideration; and that doesn’t begin to deal that 30′ moving van sitting on the street, waiting to unload (and that moving van is scheduled to be elsewhere)… now what? And as noted in this article, can result in non-closings. And that means you, as the agent might not get paid, at the allotted closing, or maybe not at all. Did you consider ALL possibilities when dealing with offers?

    Hindsight is always foresight. Try to plan accordingly. Time is always of the essence, even when you have prepared as best as can best expected; you might need “more” time.

    (From today’s article…) “Lesson: Always have a pre-closing inspection of your home, even on the morning of closing, to make sure that there are no surprises after closing. This includes making sure that the seller removes all the junk and is leaving the home in a clean and broom swept condition, which is indicated on most real estate agreements.”

    Yes. But someone within the industry needs to address a clarification of definition of terms. There have been issues regarding the use of the clause-word re further or additional ‘inspection’ in an effort to avoid certain situations, such as described herein.

    Something bothers the selling agent, interpreting the use of the word secondary “inspection” on or about the day of closing, to mean a home inspector for inspection could attend a second time, only to be turned down. It might be prudent to use the word “viewing,” it has been suggested, when not referring to an actual home inspector second attendance.

    Speaking of home inspectors: if a home inspector needs to go back in to re-visit or inspect work that is discovered needing attention, during the initial home inspectors’ appointment, this needs to be addressed in the offer also, (or at the very least, amended), or this, too, can present a problem that then lawyers have to address, possibly creating additional costs for the clients when requiring addressing after the fact. Perhaps best to address as many possibilities using appropriate words, terms, in clauses initially, covering all the bases, and get that out of the way, when everyone involved has pen in hand.

    Carolyne L 🍁

    • Regarding door locks. We advise buyers that the first thing they should do after closing is rekey. Some home warranty companies will do it for $60 if you can’t get it done yourself or by friends and family

      • Hi Lilly
        Of course that is the best idea. Owners sometimes give extra keys to friends, family, cleaning people, and others, and no one wants uninvited guests letting themselves in. I once had a middle of the night visitor following my move, wanting in; friends of the prior owner, drunk as a skunk; one of her drinking buddies apparently.

        I had changed the locks and his key didn’t work so he rang the bell. I spoke through the locked door. He didn’t know she had moved. And I didn’t want her sleepover guest.

        I read your edu comment; of course you are correct; Queen Elizabeth II has no degree and was home-schooled. No one seemed to question her expertise.

        It takes an especially well-rounded education to be in this business, and it doesn’t always come from textbooks. I was fortunate as a copy editor and indexer to fine tune manuscripts at galley stage and younger, for doctors, lawyers, professors and other writers, well-known and unknown, but that didn’t make me an expert in their fields, for sure not. You are so right that our educational system is more than a little flawed. Both in and out of the industry.

        Carolyne L 🍁

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