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.