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Articles in this section are of general information and in every situation are subject to the application and interpretation of a law, rule or factual situation that may differ. Consult us for any specific question.

Be a prudent buyer even in a crazy real estate market

July 7, 2021

It is no secret that the current Covid-19 pandemic is causing real estate fever: more and more people are looking to become homeowners in a saturated market. As a result, the buyer is often forced to acquire a property at over-auction, abandoning the pre-purchase inspection and accepting that the sale is made at his own risk. What do these concessions imply, legally speaking?

Buying without an inspection

The role of a pre-purchase inspection is to inspect the property in order to identify if there are apparent defects. Since the inspector is not required to open the walls or enter areas that are too difficult to access, the inspection report is rather to sound the alarm by alerting the buyer to situations that merit further consideration.

Thus, neglecting the pre-purchase inspection considerably reduces your chances of identifying apparent defects, signs of more serious defects and visible components that affect the value or use of your future property. Although it is by far preferable to proceed with such an inspection, the Courts do not necessarily always require it. In fact, according to the law, it is sufficient to act as a prudent and diligent buyer. To satisfy this condition, an inspection may be necessary, depending on the situation. This is the case when the buyer has no knowledge of construction or because of the age of the property purchased. It is therefore possible that the fact of not doing a pre-purchase inspection will ultimately be held against you.

Buying without a warranty and at your own risk

This condition entails significant risks for the buyer.

The law states that the seller must guarantee the quality of the property sold.  This has the effect of offering you recourse when you discover, after the transfer of title, that the immovable is affected by hidden defects.

However, the inclusion of such a clause in the deed of sale inhibits the effect of the law. As this is not a rule of public order, the parties are effectively free to conclude what they want. They can thus limit the scope of the legal warranty and even exclude it completely:

  • (1) If your deed of sale contains the words “without legal warranty”, your protection is seriously limited, but not completely abolished. The seller is still bound by his personal facts: if he knew of a problem and failed to disclose it to you, you will have recourse against him.
  • (2) The situation is much more serious if your deed of sale contains the clause “without legal warranty and at the buyer’s risk”. With these few additional words, the seller completely relinquishes his legal obligations of guarantee. You are therefore committing yourself to buying the property in its current state, with or without defects.  The only way for you to obtain compensation would be to demonstrate, if this is the case, false declarations made by your seller or fraud.

Dangerous cocktail

The combination of a purchase made without an inspection, without legal warranty and at the buyer’s own risk is hazardous, as the Courts tend to condemn buyers to suffer the consequences of their choice. We therefore invite you to be cautious, or to consult us before signing your deed of sale. Your dream home could quickly become a nightmare!