Real Estate Questions?

Each week I’ve been responding to various questions on our Century 21 Blog. The following are some of the posts:

  • What time frame do most buyers want to move in?

I get that question quite often.  We see a whole variety of dates and requests for a possession date for buyers.  Probably the most common phrase you will see on a MLS listing or marketing piece for a home for sale is a 30 day/negotiable possession date offering.

Sometimes buyers will get all worked up on the number.  “They said 30 days so offer them exactly 30 days!”  only to be perturbed later when the seller counters their offer to a different date.  In reality, how fast a selelr can move out and provide vacant possession varies and differs with each seller.  To move out within 30 days is quite reasonable and doable.  However sometimes buyers forget that they are asking for a week or two weeks for conditions to be met by them.  Conditions such as subject to financing and a home inspection most likely.  If this is the case that first week or two weeks the sellers has  a “maybe” and left with 2 or 3 weeks to plan their move after the buyer removes conditions.

The best advice on a possession date is be reasonable and flexible.  All the terms on the offer to purchase can be negotiable and really you should have a conversation with your real estate agent about your schedule and how the request to move out by a certain date works for you.

For marketing purposes the most common is 30 days, and I would recommend that to open your listing up to as many buyers as possible.  However if 60 days or 90 days or a specific date are a must, chances are those requests can all be accommodated.  Sometimes time maybe more important to the buyer or seller than settling on a specific end price.

  • Sometimes homeowners have questions or concerns about who is accessing their home and when.

These are normal concerns, and it’s ok to ask them of your REALTOR.  Our home is our castle and you have the right to know who is coming and going and when they are to be accessing your home.

The real estate agents that belong to the Central Alberta REALTORS Association all use what is called a Supra i-Box to hold the key that will access your home.  The protocol that typically gets followed is an request from an agent to show your home is made to the listing agent/brokerage.  Once that consent or “ok to show” is given the buyers agent then accesses your home using the key in the lock box.  The lock box can only be open with a specific “e-Key” that is registered with our association.  The e-Key user has a unique registered key and pin number to them to open the box.  Furthermore it can only be accessed during the hours of 9 am and 9 pm and can be further restricted as needed by the listing agent.

These i-Boxes also also have the ability to store the information of the last 100 accesses, and provide a log indicating which key was used to open.  This combined with the association registration and active user information we can then identify who accessed your home and the time.  This is a great peace of mind from the old days of lock boxes that required a old metal key to access, and certainly more secure than leaving the key in the mailbox.

Today real estate agents are not the only users of the e-key that can ipen those i-Boxes.  Appraisal companies and Home Inspection companies may also be registered with our association and pay for the use of a key as well.  Again these users are registered with the association and their access can be logged as well.

So to summarize, the key is held in a secure i-Box with the ability to track which user has access. Only registered users have access and you with your listing agent have the final say as to access.

  • Foreclosures:

With the change in the economy and employment we’ve unfortunately have seen an increase in the number of foreclosed properties on the market.  While foreclosures are not new, the increase in the number of foreclosed homes has made them more and more common place.  Due to this increase we’ve had a number of questions pertaining to foreclosures and the process such as:

  • Can I still negotiate price?
  • Can I get an home inspection?
  • Who looks after the property?
  • What can I expect on closing?

With respect to price and inspecting a property the answer is a definitive “YES”.

There is always an opportunity to inspect the property and negotiate price and terms of the offer to purchase contract.  The owner is a foreclosed property is either the bank or the mortgage insurance company CMHC or Genworth.  While they will not offer warranties or make representations tot he property you can negotiate other aspects of the offer to purchase such as price and of course inspect the property prior to proceeding.

Who looks after the property?

The owner of the property is still responsible for the property.  So if the bank owns the house now, then yes they are responsible for the maintenance and upkeep as required by the area or municipality.  To do this they typically hire a property management company to assist them with the properties and to “winterize the property”.  The water is turned off, sometimes utilities are turned off and they make arrangements to mow the lawn to meet the minimum standard for the municipality.

What can I expect on closing?

The best answer is you never know.  The bank will cross out on the offer to purchase phrases such as:

6.1 The Seller represents and warrants to the Buyer that:

  • (b) the Attached Goods and included Unattached Goods are in normal working order and are free and clear of all encumbrances;


  • (d) the current use of the Land and Buildings complies with the existing municipal land use bylaw;
  • (e) the Buildings and other improvements on the Land are not placed partly or wholly on any easement or utility right-of-way and are entirely on the Land and do not encroach on neighbouring lands, except where an encroachment agreement is registered on title, or in the case of an encroachment into municipal lands or a right-of-way, the municipality has endorsed encroachment approval directly on the real property report;
  • (f) the location of Buildings and other improvements on the Land complies with all relevant municipal bylaws, regulations or relaxations granted by the appropriate municipality prior to the Completion Day, or the Buildings and other improvements on the Land are “non-conforming buildings” as that term is defined in the Municipal Government Act (Alberta);
  • (g) the current use of the Land and Buildings and the location of the Buildings and other improvements on the Land comply with any restrictive covenant on title;
  • (h) except as otherwise disclosed, the Seller is not aware of any defects that are not visible and that may render the Property dangerous or potentially dangerous to occupants or unfit for habitation.
  • 6.2 All of the warranties contained in this Contract and any attached Schedules are made as of and will be true at the Completion Day, unless otherwise agreed in writing.

While often the house you saw, and made an offer on will be exactly as you saw it, it is possible that the home can be further damaged or even the occupancy changed.  It is best to consult with your re4al estate agent and lawyer about what can happen on possession day and whether or not that day is actually a moving target.  You may not be able to move in on closing day if the previous owner hasn’t moved out.  If that is the case then you will need to involve your lawyer and a Sheriff to remove them.

While foreclosures can appear to be a great deal financially they are not without risks.  Those risks could involve great expense and that deal is no longer as great as you thought.  Remember the phrase “Buyer Beware” it is always true and you should act accordingly.

Make sure that you read the clauses that are being stricken from the contract as they could impact your financing, the ability to obtain title insurance or the extent of insurance coverage.

Lastly, court ordered sales are similar but the process and procedures are vastly different.  You should have a detailed consultation with your real estate agent on the proceedings and the possible outcomes when buying a property that is a “Court Ordered Sale”.


The Broker,

Patrick Galesloot.


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