Home Buyer Beware


[FONT=PalatinoLinotype][size=4][FONT=PalatinoLinotype][size=4]Robin M. Gronsky
[/size][/FONT][FONT=PalatinoLinotype][size=2]Attorney at Law
[/size][/FONT][FONT=PalatinoLinotype][size=3]315 North Pleasant Avenue
Ridgewood, New Jersey 07450
(201) 251-8001 RGronsky@GronskyLaw.com Fax (201) 701-0407
[/size][/FONT]Home Buyer Beware – Your Home Inspection Report Does
Not Come With a Lifetime Guarantee
[FONT=BookmanOldStyle][size=3]Home Buyer Beware – Your Home Inspection Report Does Not Come With a Lifetime
[/size][/FONT][FONT=PalatinoLinotype][size=3]I have never represented a home buyer who did not get the property inspected before the closing
(even during the days of the real estate bubble when sellers were not agreeing to any repairs). But,
I find that the expectations of my buyers clients seem to be higher than they should be in terms of
what the home inspection report is designed to do.
A home inspector will go through the house and check out the conditions of the structure, the
systems (heating, air conditioning (if the temperature permits), hot water, plumbing, and
electrical) and the appliances. The better home inspectors will go into crawl spaces, up on the roof
(but most just use binoculars while on the ground) but they are limited by what is visible. If there
are bookcases or other furniture in a room or boxes in the basement or attic, the home inspector
will not move anything to see what is behind them. The home inspector will also look for termites
or damage from termite infestation.
A home inspection report is a snapshot of what condition the property is in on that particular day.
Unfortunately, I have had calls from clients who were upset that things broke down soon after
closing or systems that could not be tested due to temperature were not working optimally or a
basement that was disclosed as dry was now flooded. They wanted to know if they could get
compensation from the home inspector, the seller or the seller’s real estate agent.
[FONT=PalatinoLinotype][size=3][FONT=PalatinoLinotype][size=3]There are limitations to what you get from the home inspection. It is always possible that the seller
lied on the disclosure form but you would have to prove that the seller had knowledge of the
condition and lied about it. Or things do break down more quickly than predicted (most home
inspectors will mention if something is at the end of its useful life but the seller is not obligated to
replace it if it still working at the final walk-through. Or the law could change and what was an
acceptable practice when you closed is now unacceptable to buyers and you have to spend money
you were not expecting to spend. With flooding issues, we have had 100-year floods and 200-year
floods recently, so in most cases, if a basement didn’t flood from Hurricane Irene or the other
storms we’ve had, chances are you will be getting the dry basement you are expecting. But, there
is no guarantee that we won’t experience a 500-year flood soon.
Also remember that if you want to sue someone, you have to pay your legal fees. If the costs of
hiring a lawyer, missing work to appear at depositions and in court, and feeling the stress from
having an ongoing lawsuit in your life won’t outweigh the damages you have suffered (and don’t
expect to get millions for emotional distress or pain and suffering), it won’t be worth it to sue[/size][/size][/size][/FONT][/FONT][/FONT][/size][/FONT]

[FONT=PalatinoLinotype][size=3][FONT=PalatinoLinotype][size=3]There is a reason that the expression “Caveat Emptor” is still used when buying a house – the
buyer must beware. You must diligently check out all possible issues, ask your home-buying team
about the ramifications of what was found in the home inspection report, ask the seller to repair
the items that need repair, but understand that no one can insulate you from all of the risks of
buying a home.
[/size][/FONT][FONT=BookmanOldStyle][size=3]Robin M. Gronsky, Esq. is the owner of Gronsky Law Office in Ridgewood, New Jersey. If
you need a lawyer to represent you when you are buying or selling a house, contact
Robin by telephone at: 201-251-8001 and by e-mail at: [/size][/FONT][FONT=BookmanOldStyle][size=3][FONT=BookmanOldStyle][size=3]RGronsky@Gronskylaw.com[/size][/size][/FONT][/FONT][FONT=BookmanOldStyle][size=3]. For
more information about the different services that Gronsky Law Office provides, go to


Excellent. He’s spot on.

An attorney being upfront and suggesting that prospective clients not retain his services under the delineated circumstances…

Most would take the money and run…

and Oxymoron… Ethical Lawyer… :slight_smile:

This is what lawyers tell their clients AFTER they discover the inspector is not insured.

Also an alternative view,

It will be a good idea to watch Market place tonight .
For our Southern friends you can get it on the web in a couple of days CBC at http://www.cbc.ca/marketplace/


Wow an honest lawyer it must be the 2012 end times prophesy come to life.Did someone change the matrix again. Good find Roy!

[size=4]Yep self inflicted wounds [/size]



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Family warning home buyers: get an inspection


CTV Saskatoon

Updated: Fri. Mar. 2 2012 4:56 PM ET
A Saskatoon family regrets a decision it made when they purchased their house, and now they’re offering advice to other buyers.

The Lysters bought their home five years ago during the housing boom, when many homes sold in a few hours. They never got a home inspection, for fear the extra time would cost them the deal. Now they regret it.

From improper venting to mold to low efficiency windows and a foundation crack, the problems at the Lyster home never seem to end.

“Had we had a big, good house inspection done at the time maybe they would have found some more things that are still lurking in here that we don’t know about and maybe we would have decided to take a look at the next house,” says Stephen Lyster.

A home inspection won’t necessarily find every problem, but it does let the buyer know the basic issues, so they can decide to take a closer look, budget to fix something, or walk away.

Brad George, from Pillar to Post home inspection in Saskatoon, says home inspections are essential. “I would recommend having a home inspection just for safety as well. If plumbing isn’t done correctly, junction boxes, home owner done wiring in the basement if they developed it can lead to a dangerous situation.”

In addition to their house woes, the Lysters are dealing with a personal challenge. Their daughter Tegan was diagnosed with leukemia. Life now revolves around the chemo treatment she’ll be on for the next two years.

Since Tegan got sick, the Lysters haven’t had the time or money to tackle more repairs.

“We want to get it fixed, we want to get it cleaned up, we want everything to be safe in our house for our kids and we’re not able to do it right now,” says Stephen.

But the family does have idea. They are trying to get HGTV’s Mike Holmes to come in and make things right. A friend started a social media campaign on Twitter and Facebook to try and get Holmes to come to Saskatoon.

So far, there’s no word from Holmes, but the Lyster’s say their bad luck has to run out sometime. And if they are able to put aside their home worries, they can focus their care on their daughter.

For those who did not see the show Please do.It will be on the net soon CBC Canada .
This confirms just what a lot of our USA friends have said continually Licensing solves nothing .
Home inspectors in the BBB have few complaints from the public .
There are many others Businesses that need improvement .
Any who want a copy of the BBB reports please send me an email and I will send you the report so you can confirm just what has been said all along .
Licensing solves nothing .

For those who did not see the show Please do.It will be on the net soon CBC Canada .
This confirms just what a lot of our USA friends have said continually Licensing solves nothing .
Home inspectors in the BBB have few complaints from the public .
There are many others Businesses that need improvement .
Any who want a copy of the BBB reports please send me an email and I will send you the report so you can confirm just what has been said all along .
Licensing solves nothing .

Need help


Latest Episode
When The Repairman Knocks
In this special one-hour edition of Marketplace, Tom Harrington tests the skills and ethics of home repair services.

This confirms just what a lot of our USA friends have said continually Licensing solves nothing .
Home inspectors in the BBB have few complaints from the public .
There are many others Businesses that need improvement .
Any who want a copy of the BBB reports please send me an email and I will send you the report so you can confirm just what has been said all along .
Licensing solves nothing .

Need help

Yes it was very well presented and true in allot of cases for Home Repairs everywhere.
I love how honest those garage door repairmen were. If something has circuit board first thing to look for is little lights flashing. Sure sign of trouble. LOL



Back to Basement apartments must comply with zoning, fire, building and electric codes Basement apartments must comply with zoning, fire, building and electric codes

March 16, 2012
Bob Aaron

When real estate agents prepare offers for a house with a basement apartment, they typically insert a clause stating that “seller does not warrant retrofit status.”
This results in the purchaser taking the risk of getting caught by city inspectors and having to vacate the unit and forfeit rental income.
Agents and sellers seem to think they are sheltered from liability if they do not “warrant” the basement’s so-called retrofit status.
This practice could end in the light of a recent letter to local real estate agents by Toronto Real Estate Board president Richard Silver.
Silver’s letter attempts to end the confusion over what is and what is not a “legal” basement apartment, and what’s missing if there is only partial full compliance.
Silver quotes noted home inspector Carson Dunlop, who reports (at http://bit.ly/y06khg) that achieving a “legal” basement apartment involves five separate issues:
[size=]• Do the local bylaws permit basement apartments?
• Does the apartment comply with fire code?
• Does it comply with building code requirements?
• Does it comply with electrical safety requirements?
• Has the apartment been “registered?”
Real estate agents frequently use the term “retrofit” to signify whether the basement unit is or is not fully “legal.” But in this context, its use is incorrect, and only refers to fire code — one of the five requirements.
The provincial fire code is a subset of the Ontario building code. The building code applies only to the day the unit was constructed. Only the fire code is retroactive — and this gives rise to the term “retrofit.”
As a result, a unit which does not have a fire retrofit may otherwise comply with the building code, electrical safety requirements and zoning bylaws. It’s all very complicated.
In 1994, the provincial government set new fire code rules with which all basement apartments, new and existing, must comply. A unit upgraded to comply with the fire code is called a “basement retrofit.”
Compliance with the fire code involves four requirements: fire containment, means of escape, fire detection and alarms, and electrical safety.
Drywall separations between the basement and the rest of the house must have a minimum 30-minute fire rating. A separate exit (or fire-separated shared exit) is required. A basement window is acceptable if it meets certain size and location requirements.
Fire safety rules also require installation of smoke alarms in all units in a house. They do not have to be interconnected unless the fire separation to a common exit area does not have a 30-minute rating. Many municipalities also require carbon monoxide detectors.
Once a unit has been inspected and any deficiencies corrected, the fire department will issue a retrofit certificate to verify compliance.
But a unit that has been fully retrofitted may still not comply with zoning, building code and other requirements.
Identifying whether a municipality’s bylaws permit basement apartments is also important when buying a house with a basement unit. Since 1995, municipalities have had the authority to enforce their bylaws with respect to basement apartments; however, units that existed prior to November 1995 are exempt from meeting local bylaw requirements.
Silver notes that the building code, which prescribes minimum requirements for the construction of buildings, for the most part applies only to the day the house was built, and not retroactively.
As a rule, a basement apartment’s minimum ceiling height must be 6 feet 5 inches; its entrance door must be at least 32 inches by 78 inches; bathrooms require either a window or an exhaust fan; and if there is a parking spot for one of the units, there must also be a parking spot for the other unit.
Electrical safety refers to the required inspection by the Electrical Safety Authority.
Buyers of houses with basement units, and agents marketing them, should always insist on evidence that the unit was in existence in 1995. And they should find out whether the unit does or does not comply with the fire code, building code, electrical safety requirements and municipal zoning bylaws.
Full disclosure is of the utmost importance.
Bob Aaron is a Toronto real estate lawyer and consumer advocate. He can be reached at bob@aaron.ca. Visit his website at www.aaron.ca.




Back to Basement apartments are a minefield for the uninformed Basement apartments are a minefield for the uninformed

March 30, 2012
Bob Aaron

My column on basement apartments earlier this month seems to have touched a nerve among homeowners and real estate agents, many of whom sent me emails. The message in the column was that simply using the term “retrofit” to signify whether an apartment was legal or not was misleading and dangerous.
Bill Johnston, past president of the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB), wrote: “Thank you for your excellent article on basement units in the Saturday Star. They can be a minefield for the uninformed.”
Current TREB president Richard Silver agreed, saying: “It certainly is a minefield for consumers and agents unless we get some clarification.”
Brian Edwards, of Westbrook Building Inspection Services, pointed out: “I have lectured to agents over 80 times on this topic and it never ceases to amaze me how devious efforts are to hide the fact that the unit is illegal.”
Bill Owen, of Re/Max Realty Services, told me there are “thousands of illegal (units) out there, especially in Mississauga and Brampton. I see them every day.”
In fact, the minefield is even more complicated in light of provincial legislation, which came into effect at the beginning of this year.
In 2010, the Province of Ontario introduced Bill 140: the Strong Communities through Affordable Housing Act, 2011. The legislation requires municipalities to implement official plan policies and zoning bylaw provisions that will allow basement apartments or accessory units in detached and semi-detached homes and townhouses.
Although the changes to the Planning Act came into effect on Jan. 1, 2012, the province has not set a deadline by which municipalities are required to bring their bylaws in line with Bill 140.
Until the official plans and zoning bylaws are amended in each municipality, the effect of old zoning bylaws which appear to prohibit basement apartments is uncertain.
Provincial law in 1995 grandfathered existing basement apartments, but only with respect to zoning requirements. The question now is: can a municipality enforce its old zoning bylaws prohibiting a post-1995 basement apartment in the face of Bill 140 when that municipality has not yet implemented the required changes to its official plan and zoning bylaws to permit basement apartments? At the moment the answer is unclear.
Bill 140 may not apply to condominiums, since the declarations in most residential buildings contain a restriction limiting use to single-family purposes only. Hamilton lawyer Ronald Danks tells me that a number of court cases and arbitration decisions have upheld these restrictions.
The City of Toronto has prepared an excellent guidebook entitled “Second Suites: An Information Guide to Homeowners.” It is available at secondsuites.info. It notes that provisions permitting second suites throughout the City of Toronto came into effect in the summer of 2000. Homeowners are allowed to have a second dwelling unit in any single or semi-detached home, and in some rowhouses.
For a second suite to qualify as an authorized unit, it must meet residential zoning requirements, property standards bylaws, occupancy standards, health and safety requirements, and fire and electrical codes.
The Toronto guide contains a step-by-step procedure on how to create a new second suite and how to legalize (the city calls it “upgrade”) an existing suite.
A home with a basement apartment represents a huge investment and a valuable source of rental income. My recommendation for anyone owning one, or considering buying a home with an “accessory unit,” is to consult a qualified professional planner, engineer, architect or other building professional for guidance.
And if a real estate sale listing describes a home with a basement apartment using the toxic word “retrofit” — which applies only to Fire Code — the best thing to do is to find out why the unit doesn’t comply and what would be necessary to legalize it.
Morten Andersen, the broker at Royal LePage Meadowtowne Realty, recommends that purchase offers contain a clause specifically acknowledging full and complete disclosure of what aspects of the secondary unit comply, or do not comply, with legal standards.
*Bob Aaron is a Toronto real estate lawyer and consumer advocate. He can be reached at bob@aaron.ca. Visit his website at aaron.ca](http://www.aaron.ca/).




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Five ways to get the most for your home


Real estate agent and blogger David Fleming

Updated: Thu. Mar. 29 2012 8:34 AM ET
Earlier in March, a three-bedroom bungalow in Toronto’s Willowdale neighbourhood made headlines when it sold for $421,800 above the asking price. The modest 1960’s home was listed at $759,000 but sold for near $1.2 million. Four offers were put in and each of them was over $1 million.
The home wasn’t worth that much, according to Toronto real estate agent and blogger David Fleming. But the real value was in the property, Fleming said on Thursday on CTV’s Canada AM. The house was located in an area that has seen considerable redevelopment in recent years.
Every home owner dreams of turning a profit such as this, but never sees it. But with these five tips Fleming believes every seller can get the best price for their home.
**Timing **
Every business is cyclical to some degree and real estate is no different. The condo market is pretty steady throughout the year, but you should always look to list if/when there is little to no competition. The housing market, on the other hand, is exceptionally cyclical.
We’re in the middle of March – a very slow period. March means “March Break,” and that means public and private school breaks of up to one or two weeks. Families are out of town – they’re not looking at real estate.
March Break moves into Easter and Passover. That puts up a red flag for most of March and early April.
The spring market is great in late January and February, then in late April into June. Once again, families go on vacation and think about other things during the summer. For that reason, July/August is not a good time to sell your family home in a residential neighbourhood. The market explodes right after Labour Day and lasts until mid-December.
Everybody wants to talk about “bidding wars” these days, and that silly bungalow in Willowdale that made headlines is still being talked about. That house may have sold for $422,000 over asking, but it was priced at $759,000. In reality, it was a $1,000,000 house, so the pricing was silly. But under-pricing is a time-tested technique that always brings in more money.
For example, a $550,000 house is best priced at $499,000 with a set “offer date.” This brings in a sub-set of buyers with a $500,000 cap that would otherwise never see the house. If some buyers offer $499,000, $505,000, $510,000 and so on, this just means the astute, informed buyer who is looking at $550,000 will have to pay more.
People are competitive by nature – one buyer will get caught up in the bidding war and overpay. That’s all a seller needs. That buyer might come in at $560,000, but once the frenzy begins he could walk away with the house at $591,000.
Ultimately, that house would never sell for $591,000 if it were priced at $591,000. The only way to get that money is to price at $499,000.
**Staging **
I’ve never seen a house or condo that doesn’t need some element of staging. Sellers always feel that their house shows well, even if they’ve been there for 25 years with no renovations or new furniture. But a house needs to be as generic and inoffensive as possible. This means removing any and all elements of life – no family photos, no personal touches and a minimal number of books/DVDS on display. Otherwise, buyers will focus on the fact that the seller has all 10 seasons of “Friends” on the shelf instead of actually looking at the house.
I’ve had clients spend $15,000 on staging. I’ve also had sellers move out every single possession and have the place painted, cleaned, and staged. The money put into staging will pay off three to four times.
**Marketing **
People like to think that a house will sell itself, but that’s not true. Today, the “For Sale” sign on the lawn is no longer the best marketing tool. A MLS listing is no longer sufficient either.

  • You need a professional photographer, not photos taken on your Blackberry.
  • You need a virtual tour with dozens of photos – not just the nine you get on MLS. You need an open house from 1 – 5 pm on Saturday and Sunday, not 2 – 4 pm on one day. The lady walking her dog on a Sunday afternoon who pops into the open house at 4:30 pm might be a buyer and she didn’t even know it!
  • You need a Thursday night open house with “wine and cheese.”
  • You need to send “Just Listed” cards to every house/condo in the neighbourhood and try to solicit the renters and people looking to upsize.
  • You need to call the neighbours on the street and invite them to the open house.
  • You also need to use Twitter and Facebook to your advantage.

**Be proactive and address issues before they arise **
I pay for a home inspection as part of my service. I also leave the home inspection on the dining room table for every buyer to thumb through.
If there are any issues identified that might affect the sale price, I might encourage the seller to fix them before the listing. The key here is to eliminate any objection a buyer could put forth. Disclose, disclose, disclose. Put everything out there in the open and level the playing field.
As a seller, you would benefit the most from an unconditional offer. The last thing you need is an attractive offer that is conditional on home inspection because the risk is far too high to accept the offer. You need to ensure that unconditional offers come and providing a free, unbiased, comprehensive home inspection to every potential buyer is the way to get that done. For condominiums, I always obtain the Status Certificate (condo corporation financials, bylaws, declaration, etc) in advance for the same reason as a home inspection.