A couple who bought a home in unseen Sudbury without strings said they were swept up in a hot apartment market and now have deep regrets. They are sharing their story as a cautionary tale to other potential buyers about the importance of due diligence.
Josh Keys and Yuri Nakashima were excited to be able to purchase their first home in Sudbury after it was priced off the market in Vancouver. But when they walked into their newly purchased home earlier this month, they discovered it was far from their dream home.
“As soon as we opened the door, we immediately began to realize the horrific condition this place is in,” Keyes said.
Keys said he and his wife now face repairs amounting to tens of thousands of dollars on a property for which they have already paid about $60,000 more than the asking price.
Hot market pressure
Keyes and Nakashima had been living in Vancouver for six years and said that buying a home there was out of the question due to the high prices, so they started looking elsewhere. Keys, who is originally from Kapuskasinghe, wanted to be closer to family, so the couple settled in Sudbury.
Not wanting to travel across the country to look at homes, the couple worked with a remote real estate agent, relying on the included photos to inform their decisions. Keyes said their agent advised them that a conditional offer was unlikely to be accepted, so they waved a home search.
“We felt a lot of pressure because all the news kept saying that housing prices are going up, and we don’t know if there will be a shift or not. Their price is out of the housing market forever,” Keys said.
“We felt this would be our last chance to get a home.”
‘Keep in the ground’
Keyes and Nakashima bought a house in the west end of Sudbury, which Keyes said looked “cool” in the listing photos.
He said sellers have not disclosed any problems with the home. But when they first entered the house after their possession in February, they discovered crickets, the sewer line that had to be replaced, the gaps under the baseboards, and the rotting support beam beneath the house.
“The floor is crumbling, it is sinking,” Keyes said.
Keyes and Nakashima said they do not feel they have been advised about proper due diligence, nor do they feel that the real estate agent has acted in their best interest.
“Of course a lot of that is our responsibility,” Keyes said. “But as first time homebuyers we’re relying on a real estate agent to really guide us through the process, I think she’s also responsible, and so is the seller.”
CBC contacted the real estate agent the couple works with, but no response.
Duties of a real estate agent
Julie Robert, owner-broker at Century 21 Integrity in Sudbury, said no-conditions offers have been typical over the past year-and-a-half, although some offers have been accepted with conditions in recent weeks.
As for clients buying an unseen home, she said it was something she’d been seeing more of. In these cases, it advises clients of the benefit of pre-screening, before making an offer. While it is less comprehensive than a full home inspection, “at least it gives the client an idea of whether there are likely to be any problems with the property,” Robert said.
Ultimately, she said, working in the best interests of customers means providing them with information.
“Every customer’s risk tolerance will be different…I think it’s just important that we explain to customers what their options are to begin with,” Robert said.
Robert said that if someone buys a home with no strings attached, there may be some asylum options, although those themselves can be expensive.
“I think if you can prove that the sellers hid something, you can definitely go back to your attorney and I think sue them. But at the end of the day you’re still trying to prove that the sellers knew about the problem in advance and just didn’t disclose it,” Robert said.
Keyes and Nakashima said they are considering their options, planning to speak with a lawyer, and possibly file a complaint with the Ontario Real Estate Board.