the real/estate blog


A road to nowhere

Posted in Real Estate by Cesia Green on July 5, 2013
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In 1985, Veikko KivikRoadangas subdivided a parcel of waterfront land he owned in Sudbury into three lots. One had direct road access; the others were given a right-of-way over each of the other pieces in order to access their lands. There had long been a gravel road over the properties, and Kivikangas instructed his surveyor to show the right-of-way in the same place as the gravel road. Unfortunately, the surveyor made an error and put the right-of-way over a rock outcrop; where it actually would have been on the ground would be unusable, making the two back pieces landlocked.

When this all came to light, naturally because of a neighbour dispute, the owners of the two back lots sued to have the right-of-way description legally changed to match what was on the ground. After a long court case, and an appeal, the court released its decision in February of this year and corrected the survey.

The decision was the right one to make, but the court made an unusual statement in coming to it: there is no guarantee of boundaries under the Land Titles System. When you buy a property, you buy something, but there is no guarantee that what is on the ground is actually what you thought you were buying. The lesson to take away is that surveys are once again very valuable; whether they come back into favour before the closing remains to be seen, but a new survey showing what is actually there to compare with what is on paper is the only way to be sure you are buying what you think you are.

Happy long weekend!

Posted in Real Estate by Cesia Green on June 28, 2013
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The Canada DCanadian flag 2ay long weekend is rapidly approaching here in the great white north. I’m looking forward to a nice break, filled with the first birthday party for my friend’s son, at least one barbeque and definitely some fireworks on Monday night. What I’m not looking forward to is the increased amount of fraud attempts that will be directed at my law firm.

The Avoid a Claim Blog regularly reports on frauds targeted at lawyers. Because we have trust accounts, we are frequent targets of people trying to turn bad money into good. The most regular fraud targeted at real estate lawyers is that of a matter that must be dealt with in a hurry, right before a long weekend; this gives the fraudster an extra day to try to get away with the good money.

At the best of times, it’s not much fun to have a rush deal come in to your office. Before long weekends especially, don’t expect anyone to be willing to take it on.

When is a house a matrimonial home?

Posted in Real Estate by Cesia Green on June 21, 2013
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In Ontario, the Family Law Act rules state exactly when a home becomes a matrimonial home: the day you get married, if you are living there. In order to be a matrimonial home, it must be your ordinary residence. Your house could be a matrimonial home; so can your ski chalet or your cottage, as well as your winter home in Florida. Which one is at any given time will depend on what you consider it to be….as well as what your spouse thinks.

There are a whole hWedding ringsost of family law issues that come into play if you separate, but what I am writing about today is whether you need spousal consent to sell or mortgage your house. Even if you are the only one on title, if you have spent any time living there in the past year with your legally married spouse (this rule does not count for common law couples), your spouse may need to agree to anything happening with the house. So get that agreement in place before you list it.

Pay your taxes

Posted in Real Estate,Tax by Cesia Green on June 14, 2013
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Most people aren’t aware of this, but if you don’t pay your municipal property taxes, the city or town has the right to sell your house out from under you.

Keep in mind that justTaxes because they can, doesn’t mean they necessarily will. First, the municipality cannot start the process until the third year after the taxes are due (the second year in the case of vacant land). Second, after the process is started, you have a full year to repay the taxes owing, after which it is cleared and they cannot sell your home. The municipality can also extend that year, so you can effectively have a grace period before they start enforcement. However, if you don’t pay, they can put your house up in a tax sale, and accept an offer from the highest bidder. And this is final – all you are entitled to is any profit above what is owed on taxes, your mortgage or any other amount owing against the land, and the municipality is not required to accept the highest or best price or inquire into property values.You can check out the Municipal Tax Sales Act here.

What happens if you don’t close?

Posted in Real Estate by Cesia Green on June 7, 2013
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I have had this situation aCold feet few times: a client calls not too long before closing, and they’ve gotten cold feet. What happens if you don’t want to close the deal?

Generally, if you refuse to close, you must have a legitimate reason. As a buyer, if something is uncovered that would severely affect your enjoyment or use of the house, or your title to it, and you had no way of discovering it any earlier, you may be justified in not closing. As a seller, you are somewhat limited in why you can legitimately refuse to close, beyond not receiving funds. If you believe you have a legitimate reason, and refuse to close, you still run the risk of ultimately being found not legitimate, and then you will have to pay all of the other side’s costs that result from not closing. This could be additional mortgage costs, moving costs, or even the extra cost of buying a different house.

Before putting in an offer, be certain that you want it.

Cutting ties

Posted in Real Estate by Cesia Green on May 31, 2013
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What happeCutting ribbonns when you own a property jointly with someone, and don’t want to share any more?

Your kindergarten teacher probably wouldn’t be happy, but technically, you can sever a joint tenancy without any notice to the other parties. Basically, you do a transfer from yourself to yourself, with a statement that it is being done to sever the joint tenancy. The other person won’t find out unless they decide to look. Possibly not the best surprise to leave someone, but sometimes it is important to make sure that your share goes where you want it to go.

Specific performance

Posted in Real Estate by Cesia Green on May 24, 2013
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You put in an offer and it was accepted, but some time before the closing date, the seller decided not to complete the deal. Can you sue to make them sell you the property?

In Ontario, there is a concept called “specific performance” which, essentially, means that you are looking to have the contract fulfilled rather than get compensated for your loss. Specific performance, however, is not an easy thing to get. Generally, courts prefer to award damages (that must be proven) rather than force specific performance. Specific performance will usually only be ordered when the property is so unique that it would be impossible to find something similar. As always, consult a litigation lawyer before assuming that you can get the house in the end.

Working in Harmony

Posted in Real Estate by Cesia Green on May 17, 2013

Here’s a neat story out of my hometown: Harmony Village, which will be going up in downtown Barrie (hopefully) next year. Harmony Village will be a mix of condo towers, townhomes, and commercial space, right on the water of Kempenfelt Bay. Check out their website for more information.

Buying a rental

Posted in Real Estate by Cesia Green on May 10, 2013
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I have written beforeHot water heater about assuming a hot water heater rental contract with your new house. Today’s question: do you want to?

Before you automatically agree to assume the contract, you might want to take a look at the wording of it. Sometimes it makes more sense to enter into a new contract with a new provider, or to buy a hot water heater rather than renting one. Regardless of what you choose to do, it will be a better choice if it is informed.

Cutting ties

Posted in Real Estate by Cesia Green on May 3, 2013
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What happens when you own a property jointly with someone, and don’t want to share any more?

Your kindergarten teacher probably wouldn’t be happy, but technically, you can sever a joint tenancy without any notice to the other person. Basically, you do a transfer from yourself to yourself, with a statement that it is being done to sever the joint tenancy. The other person won’t find out unless they decide to look. Possibly not the best surprise to leave someone, but sometimes it is important to make sure that your share goes where you want it to go.

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