#12 Selling a house – when the deal falls apart

The unfortunate thing about real estate is that sometimes, despite people’s best efforts, a conditional sale can’t be made firm. And that’s what has happened with one of my recent listings, which means this property is now back on the market.

In a conditional offer, the buyers have usually inserted wording to the effect that they will give notice that certain conditions have been met by X date and time, and that if they don’t, the deposit is to be returned in full and the agreement will be null and void.

These dates should be as specific as possible.  Sellers prefer shorter time periods since a conditional offer ties up the  property even if they continue to allow viewings, as many buyers don’t even want to look at a property that may not be available for sale. So we all hope that conditional sales become firm sales, but that’s not always possible. Whatever the reason, if the conditions aren’t met,  the listing goes back to active status again.

On MLX, the fact that there was a conditional sale shows up in the property’s history as a sidebar to the listing, although it can be removed by request to the Ottawa Real Estate Board. (This removal option applies only to  conditional sales, not to other deals that have fallen apart after they went firm.)

If a realtor looks at that history and sees that a property has been conditionally sold multiple times, it raises a big red flag. Sometimes it means that the home inspections have uncovered a major problem; certain kinds of properties can also be notoriously hard to finance. For example, I know of a co-op property that has been conditionally sold several  times, always to return to the market as active a few days later. That’s because it’s almost impossible to finance the purchase of a co-op: a  lot of financial institutions won’t touch them.

Once a conditional deal collapses, changing a property from “conditionally sold” back to “active” is easy. The listing realtor simply logs in to MLX and edits the listing status. But as always in real estate, there’s other paperwork involved.

In most cases, the buyers have submitted a deposit. Needless to say, they want their money back. To get the deposit returned, there’s a mutual release and termination agreement that has to be signed by both sides. Essentially, each party agrees that they won’t sue anyone and that the agreement is at an end. The managers in each brokerage have to sign it too. After that, it can take about 7-10 days for the cheque to be issued.

I think everyone feels pretty disappointed when a deal goes south. But the reality is that it’s not an unusual occurrence. In fact, it happened to me in my very first deal as a realtor, which was quite a learning curve, believe me! Luckily, I was able to sell that property a few days later, but I remember how stressful it was for the owner.

In any event, #28 Spyglass is on the market again and here’s the plug: it’s a spacious, completely detached condo bungalow backing onto the Amberwood Village Golf Course with amazing views of the 9th hole. The condo corporation takes care of all exterior maintenance (roof, siding, eavestroughing, parging) as well as snow removal — they even rake the leaves!

You can see the details at MLS 847232. By the way, this property will be featured on Ottawa Experts: Real Estate (Rogers TV Cable 22) on December 10th between 8-9 PM. We’ll be discussing how to get a house ready for sale, and how to stage it. I’ll be joined by Micheline Masson of Property Staged and we’ll look at all kinds of before-and-after shots of this particular property.

Hope to see you then, if not before!

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