I just submitted an offer for a house, and I want to get started on renovations ASAP. Can I bring my general contractor to a pre-closing visit?

A pre-closing visit is a personal inspection that you arrange through your real estate salesperson to take one last look before you take possession of a property. Such visits are made possible by a clause in the Agreement of Purchase and Sale (APS), and are usually open only to the buyer(s) and their real estate salesperson or broker. If you want to invite contractors, designers, home inspectors, or even friends or family members it’s a good idea to obtain the seller’s permission first.

Completing a pre-closing visit is an important step towards purchasing a home. Be attentive, and don’t treat it as a casual walk-through. This is your opportunity to verify that the seller has initiated or completed agreed-upon repairs identified during a home inspection, and fulfilled any other conditions included in the APS. Your salesperson should accompany you so they are aware of any problems you may encounter, and they can deal directly with the seller’s representative if something comes up.

I appreciate your desire to get started on renovations quickly, but you will have to wait until you take possession of the house before you can break out the hammer and crowbar. A few years ago, the Real Estate Council of Ontario received a very unusual complaint from a seller. I won’t get into too many details, but the buyer of a then-vacant house hired a small army of contractors to renovate it several weeks ahead of the closing date. In other words, the buyer fully intended to initiate major renovations before the property had actually changed ownership. Nobody was living in it, so why not get started, right? Wrong!

Some might see it as an amusing anecdote in hindsight, but if the contractors had damaged the home, or if anyone had been hurt, it’s very doubtful the seller’s insurance would have covered the damages. Fortunately, the property closed. But if it hadn’t, the seller would have likely launched a lawsuit against the buyer.

Your salesperson can give you specific tips and advice for when you’re ready to do the pre-closing visit, but they will likely advise you to take your time and do a thorough visual examination. That mostly means verifying that nothing was damaged after the seller removed their belongings and cleaned up afterwards, the appliances and major systems work properly, and the seller didn’t remove any fixtures or other items that were identified in the APS.

If the seller agreed to a condition in the APS to make pre-closing repairs, take a close look at the work that was performed, and ask for copies of any receipts, work orders, and warranties/guarantees from the vendors who were hired by the seller.

If you have a question for Joe about the home buying or selling process, please email askjoe@reco.on.ca.

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 reco.on.ca, follow on Twitter @RECOhelps or on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/RECOhelps.


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