Can You Cancel a Real Estate Deal Due to COVID-19?

COVID-19 has taken you by surprise. Your job was paused just when you were buying a new home. You’ve heard about force majeure. Could that apply to your agreement of purchase and sale? 

The Short Answer Is…

It depends. Force majeure is an unforeseeable circumstance. Typically, it’s an “act of God” beyond your control. It can apply in commercial real estate contracts, but usually not to residential home sales in Toronto. You made a contract to buy a home and that’s a legal obligation. COVID-19 doesn’t frustrate your contractual obligations.

Closing on Time During COVID-19

Even with a force majeure clause, that just suspends your real estate contract temporarily. For example, a flash flood might delay but not prevent the final signing. But the courts have ruled changing your mind about a firm offer could make you liable for the difference between your offer and what the next buyer pays the seller.  

Protecting Yourself if You Plan to Buy or Sell

You may be just at the “pondering” stage. Ask your realtor to include a COVID-19 clause in the agreement of purchase and sale. It’s one way to protect your interests for now.

If You Are Quarantined or Ill

Being quarantined or in hospital wasn’t in your plans. Now what? Have your real estate agent amend the agreement of purchase and sale. Provided all parties agree, you could buy time to recover. Amendments to a real estate transaction signal to your bank, mortgage lender and seller you plan to close the deal. Failure to perform is a risk to your credit rating. The last thing you want is a credit reporting bureau like Equifax labelling you a credit risk.

When Government Services are Closed

Perhaps the land registry is closed. Title insurance policies can include gap insurance for emergencies. Both buyer and lender are covered against any losses while title registration is in limbo. Your mortgage lender or Axess Law’s real estate lawyers can answer any questions about your property title.

No Real Estate Lawyer or Notary? 

When your lawyer or notary public is unavailable for an online closing or at-home signing, our secure, virtual signing appointment makes it possible for you to sign from anywhere. All you need is Internet, a webcam and email. Virtual commissioning is available 7 days a week, day or evening. Make an appointment with Axess Law by calling 1-647-479-0118 or using our online booking form.

How Virtual Commissioning Works

You book an appointment. Your virtual notary sends you an email with a link to a closing appointment video signing. You scan and email your documents. On appointment day:

1. Click on the link to enter the video conference. 

2. The remote notary verifies your photo ID.

3. The notary reviews closing documents with you.

4. You sign via email.

5. Final documents are emailed for you to print and keep.

You’re the Legal Owner of a New Home!

Good luck in the post-coronavirus days ahead. Home ownership as a life-long investment. Think of it as a way to keep you and your family safe and financially secure.

Click here to learn more about Axess Law’s real estate services.

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