Can you sell your home by email?

Be careful what you say in an email about the purchase or sale of a house.
Be careful what you say in an email about the purchase or sale of a house.


By Mark Weisleder |                 Fri Nov 11 2011

Over the course of three days last October, Marc Girouard and Kelty Druet corresponded by email about the sale of Druet’s condo in downtown Moncton, N.B.

After a series of emails and an offer and counter offer, Druet agreed to sell unit 203 at 850 Main St. for $155,000, or so Girouard thought. But Druet changed her mind and the case landed up in court.

There a judge decided that even though a formal agreement of purchase and sale was not ever signed, a deal was a deal. Since Ontario has similar laws to those relied on in New Brunswick, the same result could happen in Ontario.

Here is what happened:

October 22, 2010: Girouard was looking on Kijiji for a condo to rent and found the unit listed there. He spoke to the tenant who passed him on to Druet. They spoke and discussed the possibility of him buying the condo and agreed to carry on their discussions through email.

October 24, 10:56 a.m. Druet sends Girouard this email: “After giving the idea of selling my condo some more thought, I have come to a decision. I would sell it to you for $160,000, conditional that you take over the mortgage and pay the legal fees associated with the purchase. (I estimate at $800.) Please let me know your decision.

October 24, 12:16 p.m. Girouard replies: “Thank you Kelty. I will meet you half way @155,000.00 and pay legal fees and assume existing mortgage.”

October 25, 2:57 p.m. Druet: “Sorry for the late reply — I’ve been thinking about it. I will accept your offer. How would you like this to go?”

October 25, at 3:33 p.m. Girouard: “Great, are you in Moncton any time soon? I can have a sales and purchase agreement drafted for your review. Is a November 15 closing acceptable so not interfere with your tenants, that I am told are vacating on that date? Is the mortgage holder a Moncton or Halifax bank?”

October 25, 6:37 p.m. Druet: My partner has been in Peru the last few days and I just got to speak with him. He was not agreeing with the price so I am sorry but I cannot sell to you.

Girouard replied he had a deal and would not release Druet from the contract. The case went to court in Moncton and the decision was given on August 9, 2011.

The judge decided that if these emails were actually written and signed, they would constitute a binding agreement. He noted that the Internet and emails have become a way of life for business and individuals. Even though such things as the closing date had not been settled, he still found that there was a basis for a legally binding agreement.

In Ontario, the Electronic Commerce Act, which governs the electronic signing of documents, is confusing when it comes to the legality of signing agreements for the sale of land, so it is possible that in Ontario the result of this case may have been different. I am not so sure.

The lesson here is clear. Be very careful what you write in an email regarding any sale or purchase of a home. Also, if you are sending any notice in a real estate deal via email, always ask for confirmation of receipt from the other side. You may not find out that the email has hit someone’s spam file until you have missed an important time deadline.

Remember to always have the advice of an experienced real estate agent or lawyer before doing anything by yourself. In this case, the seller did not want to sell their condo but had to do so, based on this very simple exchange of emails. Do not let this happen to you.

Mark Weisleder is a lawyer, author and speaker to the real estate industry. Contact Mark at


For Sale By Owner

Have you ever tried to sell your home yourself? If you ask someone who has tried this method they will tell you that from the moment they put up the “For Sale” sign the phone began to ring. However, many of those calls are NOT from prospective buyers but rather realtors looking to obtain  the listing. Selling your home and saving on the commission may sound attractive, but because of all the issues involved in the process, selling a home on one’s own can be challenging and downright frustrating.

The following are several tips to help you in the decision of selling the home yourself or getting a professional such as myself.

Prepare your Home for Sale: Look at your home through the eyes of the buyer.  Do you need a fresh coat of Paint, are your walls damaged and need repair? First Impressions are the key! Make sure that your home stands out above the competitions.

Gather Legal Documents: There are many important legal documents and contracts that you will have to prepare and understand here is a list of some of them.  Seller Property Information Sheet, Agreement of Purchase and Sale, Mortgage Verification, Property Survey, Deposit Receipt, Exclusion List,  Property Profile Fact Sheet, Loan Application, just to name a few.

The Price is Right: Correctly stating your price is critical.  Setting the price to high can be as costly as setting it too low. In order to establish a realistic price for your home, compare the price, features and conditions of all similar homes in both your neighborhood and other similar ones which have sold in recent  months. Make sure that you remove all emotional attachment and do not price according to what you feel the home is worth.

Marketing: Other than the sign on your lawn there are several ways to get the word out about your home. Local buyers can be reached through   newspaper ads. However, this is a very small and expensive way to attract  buyers. Many potential buyers are already working with Realtor. So in order to target these buyers contact as many top agents in your area to see if the criteria of their buyers matches your home’s. Also, there are many out-of-town buyers, so you will want to find a strategy to reach them as well.  You will have to be very service minded and make it easy for pre-qualified buyers to view your home. Also, make sure that someone is always available to take calls, or messages and arrange for viewings of your home.

The Showings:  Keep your emotions and your opinions to yourself. You are emotionally invested in the home and any negative comments could result in a defensive response for either party.  You must remain positive and point out all the good features of your home without sounding to artificial. Keep it real!

Qualifying your Buyers: How do you know the person on the other end of the phone line can even afford your home?  Don’t waste your time, research their financial status with respect to job security, salary, debts, liabilities and credit rating. Also, bear in mind that criminals use this opportunity to “case your joint”, only to break in at a later date.

Negotiations: It’s all in the details; price, survey, insurance, terms, inspections, closing date, buyers concerns and objections, inclusions and exclusions,etc. Make sure you fully understand the contract the you have drawn up so you can explain it to all the parties involved, from the buyer to the mortgage broker and then the real estate lawyer. Making sure that your buyer does not lose interest in the mean time.  Your objective during the negotiations is to control the pace and set the duration. Try to determine the buyers motivation. Do they have enough money? How much do they like the place? Are they pressed for time? Do they need the property in a hurry? Knowing all if this will give you the advantage and the ability to get what you want for your home.

Why are you Selling?: Keeping this information to yourself is important in the negotiation process.  Your reason for selling will affect your list price and also how much time and money you are willing to invest in getting your home to market. As someone who wants to sell without a real estate agent in an effort to save the commission, it is likely that money is one of your primary considerations. Whatever your reasons, it is very important to keep them to yourself so as not to place yourself at a disadvantage a the negotiation table. When asked simply say your housing needs have changed.

Will you really save in the end without a realtor? Consider that most buyers do use a real estate professional to assist them in the purchase of their home. This service costs the buyer nothing and they get the sound advise of a real estate agent. Be very careful with buyers, investors and speculators who seek out “For Sale By Owner” they think they are going to get a bargain. The low ball offers from these types of buyers will often net you much lower than had you dealt with a realtor in the first place. We know the market, we know what your house is worth, we know what you deserve for your home.

What comes first the mortgage or the house?

Many people get it backwards. They shop for a home, and then make an emotional decision without knowing what they are able to afford. And then are surprised and disappointed to find out that they cannot get the financing. Thankfully the banks in Canada do their homework on the applicant to see whether they have the ability to repay the loan while in the lifestyle they are accustomed to.

Somethings to consider about your lifestyle:

  • Are you single or a family of six? Costs for food and clothing alone are very different.
  • Do you take annual vacations.
  • How often do you like to eat out.
  • Are you involved in costly sporting activities.
  • Would you be willing to sacrifice these things for a bigger or nicer home.

The banks will take into consideration the following:

  • Do you have car payments.
  • Do you have to repay student loans.
  • How much do you owe on your credit cards.
  • Do you have bad debts.


Falling in love with a home without considering the REAL impact on your lifestyle is a recipe for unhappiness….either in re-adjusting to a “lesser” home or disappointment over the lack of vacations or entertainment.

My advice is to first work on your financing. Go the logic route. Find out what you can afford from a bank’s perspective, but then, spend some time considering the cash flow realities of your choice. Work with your bank to make wise choices.

Additionally, your bank should be advising you on ways to properly represent and transfer your assets, how to explain and document your income, as well as, assisting you in methods to get your optimal credit score. This counsel can be invaluable in smoothing out some of the bumps in the mortgage process, besides giving you the best chance to get the best mortgage rate available.

The choice is  clear get the mortgage before the house!

Canadian home prices rise to new record

This is an article from the Financial Post.


Resale home prices in Canada rose in July for the eighth consecutive month to a new record high, according to the Teranet-National Bank Composite House Price Index.

The index, which tracks price changes for repeat sales of single-family homes in six metropolitan areas, showed prices rising 1.3% in July from the previous month.
It was the fourth consecutive monthly increase exceeding one per cent and sent the index to a reading of 146.51.

Prices rose in five of the six metropolitan areas, advancing 2.3% in Calgary, 1.7% in Toronto, one per cent in Ottawa, 0.9% in Vancouver and 0.5 per cent in Montreal, while declining 0.9% in Halifax.

Five of the six areas hit all-time highs in July, with the exception being Calgary, where prices were still down 8.8% from the all-time high set in August 2007.

On an annual basis, prices were ahead 5.3%. The largest 12-month advance was in Vancouver, where prices were ahead 8.5%.


Think I should try something like this in cottage country

Beer being offered as incentive for Calgary home purchase

$1,000 worth on day of possession

Read more:

CALGARY — Two MLS homes for sale in Calgary are offering a unique incentive  for prospective buyers.


The sellers of homes in Hidden Valley and Coventry Hills, both listed by  realtor Robyn Moser of MaxWell South Star Realty, are offering to leave $1,000  in beer behind to the buyers.

“The homeowners are offering any purchaser who is willing to purchase a home  $1,000 in beer on possession day as part of the offering price of a home,” said  Moser, who works with a team of realtors called Robyn Moser &  Associates.

“It’s most likely going to have to be (left) either in the garage or  depending on the temperature in the house.”

Moser came up with the idea after seeing a story in Chicago where a seller  was offering beer with the purchase of the home and how showings on the property  increased by 300 per cent.

“And with those two listings in particular I knew that the clients were very  receptive to trying out new ideas,” she said. “And I felt I would pass along the  information of what they tried down in Chicago and how successful it was down  there.

“Plus at the same time, like we all discussed, there’s nothing more Canadian  than beer.”

The two-storey, 1,800-square-foot home in Hidden Valley is listed at  $424,900. “Buy this home and on possession day the seller will leave you $1,000  in beer,” says the listing to that property.

The Coventry Hills home is two storeys and 1335 square feet and listed at  $349,900. “Homeowners are offering $1,000 in beer to buyer of this home,” says  the listing.

“It’s a homeowner incentive, not a realtor incentive because we can’t put  those out there,” said Moser, adding that the kind of beer left behind will be  negotiated as part of the purchase agreement.

David Finch, assistant professor of marketing at the Bissett School of  Business at Mount Royal University, called the idea “intriguing.”

“At the end of the day, incentive is very audience specific,” he said. “The  incentives for 10-year-old kids are very different from seniors.”

Finch said he doesn’t think someone would purchase a home simply because of  the $1,000 beer incentive.

“But the first step in any type of consumer transaction is awareness,” he  said. “You don’t shop somewhere or consume anything you’ve never heard of. This  is less of an incentive but more of a promotion where they’re building awareness  and buzz around the property for sale not pretending in fact that somebody’s  going to sign on the dotted line to get $1,000 in beer.”

He said he’s heard of cars being used as incentives to buying a property.

“We’re going to try it out with the first two homes and see how it works,” said Moser. “So far actually the response after one day has been pretty  positive.

“I’m sure that if it works really well we’ll probably look at doing it with  some other listings or find other things that suit the clients’ house or  neighbourhood

Read more:

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