Consumer Protection: The Cooling Off Period In Real Estate

Under Ontario consumer protection law, certain contracts come with a cooling off period. During this limited time, a purchaser can cancel for any or no reason and receive a refund. The period applies to gym memberships, door-to-door sales and a handful of other contract types. Our post this week looks at the one real estate scenario in which a cooling off period applies. We'll also review other areas in which real estate market participants must proceed without the benefit of this type of consumer protection.

Cooling Off Period For New Condo Purchases

Signing for a new-built condo is the one and only real estate scenario in which the buyer can have a complete change of heart and back out of the deal. But the timeline is tight - within ten days of receiving a fully signed agreement and disclosure from the condo corporation.

Whatever the reason for cancelling, the purchaser must act quickly and correctly. Miss the deadline and the deal will be officially sealed. With such a sizeable investment on the line, working with an experienced real estate lawyer is key.

Listing Or Representation Agreements - Consider Carefully

When a buyer or seller decides to work with a certain brokerage, the broker and client typically sign a Listing Agreement or a Buyer Representation Agreement. Once signed, the parties are bound to follow through for the duration of the contract.

As a signee, make sure you both understand and are comfortable with the services offered, the fees charged, the approach the broker plans to use and all other terms of the relationship.

One clause specifically to be aware of is the holdover clause (a subject we discussed in our last post). This clause puts the client on the hook to pay a brokerage commission under certain circumstances even after the relationship ends.

Agreement Of Purchase And Sale - A Done Deal

The other major real estate contract that consumers encounter is the actual agreement to buy or sell a property. These agreements have no cooling off period. Once signed, they're legally binding (pending the fulfilment of conditional clause such as financing).

Before signing, have an experienced real estate lawyer review the document and ensure that the verbiage minimizes risks and protects your interests.

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