My offer to buy a home was accepted but then the home inspection found a major issue. What are my options?

It’s exciting when you think you’ve found your dream home in your desired neighbourhood. But that dream home can quickly turn into a nightmare if you discover a major issue after moving in.

That’s why a home inspection with a qualified and experienced home inspector, engineer or contractor can be such an important part of the buying process. Through a visual inspection, they may be able to identify underlying problems with a home’s structure or major systems such as electrical, plumbing, heating and more.

Some buyers, especially in a hot market, choose to not include conditions to improve the attractiveness of their offer. Whether taking this risk is a good idea or not depends on the situation and your decision should always be made based on the best information and advice you can obtain.

If the inspection uncovers an issue with the home, your options will depend on how your offer was worded. Did the Agreement of Purchase and Sale include a clause that makes the purchase conditional on a home inspection that is satisfactory to you, in your absolute discretion?
Before making any decisions, you’ll want to speak with your real estate professional and real estate lawyer to review your options.

You mentioned it’s a major issue that was discovered. Do you consider it a deal breaker? If so, depending on the wording in your contract, you may be able to walk away from the deal and get your deposit back.

Or, do you still want to purchase the home but have the issue addressed? Your real estate agent can go back to the sellers to see if they are willing to repair the issue before closing. If they agree, you’ll both need to complete a written amendment to the Agreement of Purchase and Sale that fully outlines your expectations, and remedies if these expectations are not met, to make the agreement official.

Alternatively, the sellers may be willing to reduce the sale price on the home to help cover the cost of the repairs. In that case, it will be up to you to take care of the repairs after closing. Much like in the scenario above, you and the sellers will sign a written amendment to reflect the new price.

If your offer wasn’t conditional on a satisfactory home inspection, you need to speak to your real estate lawyer to review your options. Your sales professional can help you when a course of action has been decided, but it’s important to remember that a signed Agreement of Purchase and Sale with no conditional clauses is a legally binding agreement, and your options may be limited.

Buying a home in a hot market may have you feeling like it’s “now or never” and that conditions may decrease your chances. However, a home inspection combined with a properly worded offer to purchase can take a lot of uncertainty out of the home-buying process. Making the most of the resources available to you can prevent unwanted surprises after you move in.

Joseph Richer is Registrar of the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO). He is in charge of the administration and enforcement of all rules that govern real estate professionals in Ontario. You can find more tips at, follow on Twitter @RECOhelps or on YouTube at

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