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House for sale: Maritime knocker-downer sells within day of listing | Marcel Strigberger

Friday, May 06, 2022 @ 2:34 PM | By Marcel Strigberger


Marcel Strigberger %>
Marcel Strigberger
A half-duplex near Halifax labelled as a “smoker’s paradise” sold within a day of its listing despite the owners outlining a host of problems with the unit. The real estate agent says a mix of humour and unfiltered honesty was meant to attract an audience, and it succeeded.

Looks like a new legal phrase may have entered our lexicon; “unfiltered honesty”.

Potential buyers were greeted with an up-front description that began, “BOY OH BOY! You just gotta see this place to believe it!”

The post details a fixer-upper in need for a somewhat dramatic overhaul.

The listing continues: “Change the windows, replace the roof shingles (did I mention the ceiling leaked), change the siding, put in a new kitchen and new flooring and new trim and baseboards and possibly a new deck. I am sure I am missing a lot though you get the idea. (Sic)”.

Well, nobody says this place is the Taj Mahal.

It also notes as needed work, “some heavy-duty primer for the walls due to incessant smoking indoors (“If you have asthma, bring your inhaler (and a spare)”.

This transparency is certainly a breath of fresh air.   

Photos of the digs show a dilapidated exterior and a kitchen half-buried under a pile of clutter. It refers to the basement, adding, “Downstairs has great potential though, there is too much stuff down there currently to even access it, so you’ll need to use your imagination.”

In dealing with the exterior, the listing reads, “The back yard is massive. This will be great to pitch your tent to live in while you’re fixing up the place.”

For me this place is over the top. I would feel more comfortable spending a night at the Bates Motel.

I see several legal issues. 

Can there be a situation with 100 per cent unfiltered honesty? Whoever bought this place was attracted to its shortcomings. We are not talking Harry and Megan. This is more like The Odd Couple’s Oscar. 

But is this buyer getting everything he or she has bargained for? What if something is right about the place? I can see this guy calling his lawyer after further inspection, complaining,               

“Hey, get me out of the deal. The agent lied to me. The toilet flushes properly. And the doorbell actually works. And guess what; the place has running water. ”

As lawyers, we litigate cases involving misrepresentation. In this case the buyer’s lawyer may have to reverse his thinking cap 180 degrees. He’ll have to argue the vendor has a duty to disclose what’s right about the ramshackle.

And what will the purchaser’s solicitor handling the deal come up with during the usual pre-closing searches? 

Firstly I suspect there may be municipal zoning issues. The lawyer may have to apply to get the zoning changed to the appropriate allowance, something like low rise Pompeii.

As well, I suspect there might just be work orders outstanding against the place. I looked into this matter actually, and I found out that the City of Halifax sent an inspector to visit the property, but the inspector would not enter the house that day as he noticed a cluster of mice packing and moving out.

A second city inspector was scheduled to attend, but she declined to do so as she was concerned about an alleged living room sinkhole.

The title search should also be interesting. I called the real estate agent, and she told me this property was the previous vacation home of Homer Simpson. 

Not surprisingly there is also a realty tax issue as taxes have not been paid in three years. This is not a major problem however as the vendor will be making the appropriate adjustment for the purchaser in the amount of $13.56.

I sense as lawyers we shall be hearing the phrase “unfiltered honesty,” more frequently. Defendants in contract disputes will plead it:

…“7  The plaintiff asked the defendant for details about the subject bridge in Brooklyn and the Defendant responded candidly and fully. The defendant pleads and relies on the doctrine of unfiltered honesty.”

One good thing about this place is that it is likely COVID free. I can just envisage the virus approaching the house and saying to itself, “I’m not going in there. Too risky.”

Marcel Strigberger retired from his Greater Toronto Area litigation practice and continues the more serious business of humorous author and speaker. His book Boomers, Zoomers, and Other Oomers: A Boomer-biased Irreverent Perspective on Aging is now available in paper and e-book versions where books are sold. Visit www.marcelshumour.com. Follow him @MarcelsHumour.

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