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Navigating the pitfalls of private sales

When confronted with a tricky situation during a private sale it is best to get advice from either a lawyer, or a realtor.

Q: I have been attempting to sell my house privately and had an offer on the property that was conditional on the purchaser obtaining financing.

She had seven days to waive (agree to) the condition in writing or the deal was dead.

By the seventh day, I had not heard from her so I assumed the transaction was finished and I went about finding another buyer.

Little did I know that the initial buyer had tried to contact me with the written waiver and when she found out I was entertaining another buyer, she hired a lawyer to write me a letter stating that we had a ‘deal’ and I had better ‘govern myself accordingly’.

I am a little unsure of how to proceed and wonder if you could give some advice?

A: The first thing you should do is contact a lawyer to explain the situation to them. On first glance, it seems as though you were correct in assuming that the transaction was at an end as the buyer missed the written notice period for a waiver.

However, this can be a very complex situation and you should not be forging ahead without some solid advice from either a lawyer, or a realtor.

I realize that an ever increasing number of vendors approach the sale of their home without the assistance of a realtor.

Many of them regret this initial tactic because what they are lacking is the front line experience and advocacy that a realtor can put forward on your behalf in the case of something going wrong.

Certainly, supported by a real estate agent, you would have understood upfront that the deal was good to go or dead.

Up against a lawyer’s demand letter, you have no choice but to engage another lawyer on your behalf.

They can give you guidance, which will hopefully lead to a happy outcome but this could have been avoided entirely.

Jeffrey Cowan is the principal of Cowan Law and can be reached at jeff@cowanlaw.ca.

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