An 82-year-old woman who put a $240,000 down payment on a more than $5 million home in West Vancouver is now desperately trying to get her money back. She wants to warn others to move carefully before completing a deal to buy a new home.
The problem hinges on two different home inspections, a rarity in this hot real estate market.
Olive Petrou made an offer to buy the house in January 2016 subject to a home inspection .
The first home inspector found several problems, including an alcove that showed water damage, an upstairs bathroom or shower that leaked into the ceiling and window hardware that needed repairs.
The seller agreed to fix a list of 20 items. If the repairs weren’t done by closing, the seller would have another month after possession to complete and the buyer could hold back $50,000 as added protection Petrou was satisfied with those terms and agreed to remove the condition of a home inspection and the deal was complete.
However, the problems started when a second home inspector came in to check the repair work. That inspector found other issues including water penetrating a masonry wall, moisture readings of 99 per cent in outside beams and columns and a masonry wall that didn’t appear to be rain screened.
"There's no way that they could move in and live happily ever after, ” said the second home inspector, Ted Gilmore.
Petrou’s daughter Susan Pugh had planned to live with her mom to help look after her but together they decided to pull out of the deal. They felt the cost of the needed repairs on the additional issues would be too much.
"There's too many problems with the house. There's major issues with the house," Pugh told CTV News.
It was too late to get back out. Once the subject was removed, the sale was final. Now, they’ve taken the case to a lawyer to try to get the $240,000 down payment back.
A different real estate lawyer who isn’t involved in the case, Richard Bell, looked at the contract. He said he was surprised Petrou was even able to get a home inspection in Vancouver’s red-hot real estate market, where many buyers are making deals without any conditions.
"Once you've removed your subject you're bound to complete unless in fact you can determine, prior to completion, that you're getting something substantial different than what you contracted for," said Bell.
In a letter to the seller, the buyer’s lawyer claims the seller’s failure to disclose deficiencies amounts to breach of contract. The seller’s lawyer responded by denying the existence of defects and said even if they did exist, which they deny, they weren’t material to the transaction.
"It's a tough one right because the basic law of real estate is caveat emptor: Let the buyer beware," said Bell, "That ultimately is going to be something that is decided in the courts."
While the case is being settled, the $240,000 deposit is being held in trust. In the meantime, the house has been put back on the market