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4 Ways to Safeguard Against Property Damage Before Closing

Monday Jan 14th, 2019


After what likely took months of searching for your dream home and finally submitting a winning offer, the countdown to closing brings so much excitement and promise. Unfortunately, though, it can also be a time clouded with the concern of unwanted surprises, like property damage between your offer acceptance date and closing.

Thankfully, there are balances and checks that you and your realtor can put into place to protect you in this situation and to ensure a great experience on moving day. 

Insert protective clauses in your offer
When drafting your offer with your real estate sales representative, include clauses that refer to the condition of the home, property and its contents. Should any damage or alterations occur, the clause can require the seller to either restore the issue to its original condition or compensate you for any necessary repairs. 

Include a pre-closing visit in your offer
When purchasing a home, buyers have the opportunity to walk through the property at pre-determined times post-offer acceptance to take measurements, bring in tradespeople to discuss future repairs or projects, or to simply plan out furniture placement. It is also advisable to include a clause that allows a visit to the property a couple of days before closing to inspect the property for potential damage before meeting with your lawyer to sign the final documents.

Have your lawyer negotiate a holdback
Sometimes buyers have reason to suspect that a home won’t be left in good condition, especially if they have purchased a leased property with vacant possession. Tenants can leave surprises behind that are up to the seller to deal with, but sometimes damage can occur that goes left unnoticed. In this case, have your lawyer negotiate a modest holdback of funds on closing, which will be released to the seller once you have inspected the property on closing to ensure good condition and working order. If there is some kind of damage or issue that needs addressing, you can still move forward with the closing when there is a holdback of funds and work with the seller to fix the situation.

Take pictures of the property, included chattels and fixtures, and document serial numbers
Oftentimes, certain chattels and fixtures will be included in a sale, like appliances, light fixtures, blinds and other contents. Be sure to take pictures of these items and document serial numbers (if applicable) to ensure that appliances and other contents aren’t down-graded or swapped out before closing. A good rule of thumb is to also take photos of the home and property to refer back to if you do find damage or alterations post-closing.

At the end of the day, the seller is responsible for preserving the condition of a home in between the time of offer acceptance and closing, but surprises do occur and accidental damage can happen from outside parties, like moving companies. By taking proactive steps to help manage potential issues and working with your realtor to ensure that important clauses are in place, you’ll set yourself up for a much smoother closing, helping you start your life in your new home with excitement and positivity. 

To learn more, please contact me, Deborah Clerk, Real Estate Sales Representative, ASA with Keller Williams Realty Solutions, Brokerage, in Mississauga, Ontario, to discuss your real estate buying and selling needs. I strive to provide all of my clients with sound advice to guide them home.

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