‘Seller beware’ as important to remember as ‘buyer beware’

Several weeks ago I heard something that I found quite shocking, something that I am sure most of us have never heard of and yet something all of those contemplating selling their homes should be aware of.

It is about a young upstanding couple who were sued for a sum of money that has hurt them dearly (they settled out of court to save further costs) and brings out that old adage of ‘buyer beware’ in a very different light, and in this scenario should read ‘seller beware’.

This young couple moved into their brand new home in 2005. Like most new homes there are ‘little’ items that the builder usually has to address.

The winter of 2005-06 was one of those winters when there was a lot of thawing and freezing, and as a result an ice dam formed in an eaves trough and a problem with the deflector flashing allowed moisture in and to make a long story short, damaged a wall and little of the floor in the downstairs room.

Insurance, I am told handled the situation and repairs were done professionally and all was well after that.

In 2009 this couple had dreams of purchasing an acreage and put their house up for sale believing that if it sold they would look for an acreage.

In 2010, the real estate agent found a buyer and the prospective buyer viewed the home a number of times and had an extensive inspection done that found nothing amiss.

The deal was made and the new owners moved in in the spring of 2010. In July of 2010 on the 13th and 14th Red Deer was hit with a severe rain and wind storm resulting in as near as I could find out from City Hall damage (water damage) to between 200 and 300 homes in Red Deer. The provincial government offered help for repair work upon application of the homeowners.

Unfortunately, the house I’m speaking of suffered some water damage following that storm and the new owners proceeded to have it repaired shortly thereafter.

The new owners then filed a lawsuit against the young couple, the innuendo being that they had fraudulently misrepresented their home when they were settling it.

May I say here that nothing could be further from the truth; their honesty and integrity are unquestionable.

The basis of the claim was that when the new owners bought the house, nothing was mentioned about the leak from the ice in 2005-06, even though that leak was in no way related to the leak that happened during that storm in July that damaged so many other homes.

If you can believe this, the suit was based on a precedent in 2006 where new owners of a home sued for water damage that was repaired by the original builder for the original owner 20 years previous when the house was new, had not caused a problem from that time until a water leak was discovered after heavy rain.

This was a case in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.

I might add that the repair in this instance was where the problem arose 20 years later, much different than the case I have related.

This lawsuit dealt a severe blow to this couple, as I’m sure it would to any of us and leaves one to question whether inspections and a contract stating ‘as is’ carry any weight whatsoever.

This couple lived comfortably in their home for five years and had no way of knowing that a leak would develop.

I believe that one should be sure that your agent and lawyer explain this to you, the seller of what could happen even thought you have no knowledge of a problem or a pending problem, making sure that you have disclosed any repairs that have been made to the home whether or not you may think they are insignificant.

Indeed, seller beware.

Richard Duffin

Red Deer