Wednesday 27 October 2021

Preventing water problems in your basement

No one wants to find water in their basement.  This can mean expensive foundation repairs are needed, or at least basement waterproofing by professionals (also expensive).

But there are a couple of things homeowners can do to help prevent water in the basement.


The first thing to do is to make sure all your downspouts are working properly and taking the water away from the house.  If you're missing the bottom piece on any downspouts and dropping water directly beside the foundation, you're dramatically increasing your chances of water getting into the basement. Even a new foundation wall on a brand new house runs the risk of water penetration if you put enough water down beside it.  Downspouts should have the curved piece at the end and enough extension to take the water out and away from the house.

This includes if you have an older house that has downspouts going into the ground.  These downspouts will be tied into the weeping tile, which is a drain system around the base of the foundation.  The idea is that the water will go out to the storm drain.  The biggest problem with this is that old weeping tiles were made of clay and are prone to break-down over time.  This means a weak spot in the system that could allow water into the basement rather than taking it away.  This is why home inspectors will always note downspouts going below ground and recommend disconnecting them and extending them away from the house.  (and of course plugging the pipe going down)


The second thing to look at is grading.  The ground around the home should have a gentle slope away from the house.  If there are any spots where the ground runs down toward the wall or there's a hole or dip in the ground, these are places where water could easily pool and overwhelm the foundation's drainage system, regardless of the age of the home.  I've been in a brand new multi-million dollar home where they had left a huge hole in the ground beside the foundation and there was a rather significant leak when I showed it the day after a rainstorm.

The fix is relatively simple - get dirt and make sure the ground slopes down away from the house, without any dips that would allow water to collect beside the house.  It doesn't have to be a noticeably sharp 'ramp', just a gentle and consistent slope down and away.  There are varying guides, but it should be about 6 inches for the first 10 feet where possible or roughly an inch per foot.  A good home inspector should also be able to identify these potentially problematic areas and give some guidance.

Taking care of downspouts and grading may not prevent all chances of a wet basement, but many cases of basement dampness or leaks will be prevented by taking care of these two areas.

Monday 25 October 2021

Can a real estate professional help you find a place to rent?

You might be surprised, but yes.  A real estate professional can show you any rental property or unit listed in the local MLS® system and help to write an offer to lease it and typically get paid by the landlord via the listing brokerage, just like when someone is buying a home.  I actually helped a family member with one of these recently.

The main limitation is that the majority of MLS® listings are for sale, not for rent.  So our selection might be somewhat limited, compared to properties advertised directly by landlords. 

And landlords who are leasing the property themselves are also significantly less inclined to pay any commission than someone selling, so if you want a professional's help on one of these, you might have to pay your agent's commission yourself.  A typical commission is half a month's rent.

Many real estate agents don't actively pursue rental business, and some simply refuse it, because the work involved is the same as a property sale (if not more sometimes) for significantly less money.  It sounds cold, but it's true. 

Personally, I'm willing to work with rental clients, so if you know someone who's looking to rent, I'd be happy to have a conversation with them and show them anything that might be suitable within the MLS® listing inventory as a starting point. 

There might not be anything available that fits, but you never know... there just might be something there for them.

Friday 22 October 2021

What happens when a real estate sale doesn't close?

When a real estate deal doesn't close, it can create a far-reaching mess pretty quickly, depending on the circumstances.

If you're buying a house and counting on the proceeds of the sale of your old house and your buyer doesn't close, then you may not be able to close your purchase.  This may in turn cause your seller to not be able to close their next purchase, and so on down the line.  Every real estate agent involved experiences a great deal of stress too, with the uncertainty about whether they are going to get paid. The lawyers are working in the middle to untangle the mess. The whole thing can be a headache for a lot of people. 

So what happens next?  Well, once you're finished laughing, crying, and/or tearing your hair out - as the case may be - it comes down to what your lawyer advises based on the situation.

Sometimes there is just a paperwork issue in the deal that the lawyers expect to be able to get sorted out and close it the next day.  Maybe it's something extreme like the buyer ending up in the emergency room.  The possibilities as to why are endless.  You just hope it is something that can be corrected and not an unexpected termination of the sale. 

If the situation can't be sorted out and your sale doesn't close, then you may need to re-list the house (but only when and if your lawyer advises it).  If you are forced to sell for less than the original sale price, you might consider launching a lawsuit against the former buyer for the loss.  If you're the buyer and the seller didn't close, then whether it is worth a lawsuit would depend on a number of things.  Real estate lawyer and columnist Mark Weisleder wrote [a good overview] a while back.

As a real estate agent, it's certainly something I do everything in my power to prevent happening to my clients. I've only ever had one deal even close late, and that was entirely beyond our control.  It can be a stressful uncertain situation and I hope you never have to deal with it.  But if you do, my advice to to keep breathing and trust your legal counsel to guide you through it.