On occasion I will get a call from a real estate agent or member of the public, requesting that they would like to have their buyer do a walk-through a day or two before the agreed upon possession date. I'd like to clarify a some misunderstanding by the public about this out-dated notion as it relates to real estate purchase agreements in Alberta, and specificly Calgary.
In days gone by, it seems that a walk through was an improperly conceived right, given the buyer by the mere fact that they had entered into purchase agreement with the seller. So much has changed since then, with respect to rules and regulations, fiduciary duties and lawyer protocols. Today, this practice is pretty much non-existent unless the parties to the contract specifically addressed it on the offer.
To allow such a request to the buyer, by the seller's agent would seem to imply that the offer is subject to the buyer's satisfaction of same, which clearly it is not. By rubber-stamping this request, an agent could be opening up their seller to negotiations and further demands by the buyer after the agreement has already been finalized.
If you as the buyer have a concern about the property, or the seller, they should be brought to your agent at the time of writing of the offer to purchase. In this way they can give you advise on how these concerns might be addressed beforehand. They might be presented as a term, or a condition, or your agent might recommend that you simply adjust your offer price to reflect a worse case scenario. This strategy might be used when it may not be reasonable that the seller might be willing to clean the home to your standards, when it is clear by its current condition that the seller may not in fact be capable of that. There are also a number of other ways that you can be protected within the four-corners of your agreement, to which your Realtor can advise you, on more serious issues.
It is important that you keep communications open with your Realtor, and express your concerns, as you agent may not be able to guess that you have a concern unless you vocalize it. Other than items which are specifically contemplated on the offer, the parties to it must proceed on the basis that both parties are moving forward in good faith and there will be no surprises on the possession date.
In the hundreds of closings that I have been involved with, I have yet to see a serious breach on possession, where the agreement is clear and well written. Almost all minor deficiencies have turned out to be an oversight and most often the seller will quickly remedy the mistake as quickly as possible once it is brought to their attention.
In very rare cases where there is a serious breach of the agreement the parties to the contract do have rights to pursue clearly definable damages by whatever means are available to him.
Here is the Calgary Real Estate Board's position as at March 9th, 2007 and is to my knowledge still their position.
"The standard Residential Purchase Contract does not contain a clause which gives the Buyer a right of access to the property until the Seller's lawyer tells the Seller the keys are releasable. A walk through by the buyer and their Associate prior to possession is a privilege, not a right. Any access to the property prior to that point is 100 per cent at the discretion of the Seller. Buyer's lawyers who set an expectation with their clients that they have a right to a walk through because of "common practice" are misleading their clients".