Just because others do it . . . does that make it okay?

Real Estate Agent with Sutton Group Seafair Realty - Richmond, Ladner & Tsawwassen

A fresh and eager young colleague and I have been working together with a lovely couple about to embark on their new life together which at this point includes marriage, their dog and a first home purchase. An exciting time - dreams coming true! Well, sort of but with a few provisos. Given the couple's budget and the large breed dog, they have had to re-evaluate expectations of size, age and location for their new home. The hoped for newer townhouse with the little patch of grass in a desirable area has become a one bedroom condo in the opposite direction. The young couple comes to terms with the concessions they need to make to their purchase and my colleague begins her search for the "perfect" starter for her buyers.

It didn't take long to find what appeared to be a great newer condo with all the bells and whistles (granite, stainless etc) on the ground floor for Fido and the listing says doggy is allowed.  After conferring with the listing agent that dogs are allowed with no size limitations everyone views the condo, including the in-laws to be and the offer is written. So far - so good.

My colleague receives all the required strata and title documents. What hasn't been mentioned up to this point in the story is that the couple plans to have their first child within a year or two of moving into the new home. My colleague though is aware of this fact though and is taken aback by a single line of information noted in the strata minutes nearly 18 months ago. Someone complained about the noisy children living in the building and how no one under the age of 19 is supposed to be living there. Not the children of owners or children of tenants! HUH!!???

First, nothing is stated on the MLS listing. Second, there is nothing in the Bylaws noting an age restriction.  But, there is a reference in the minutes to a covenant on the Title. This little nugget of information has been somewhat buried and obviously ignored. So, let the digging begin on behalf of the client. It's already past the time of day when the Land Title Office and City Hall are open so trying to research the actual covenant by numbered code is impossible. Going back to the MLS listing history I see that 2 realtors whom I respect very much have noted there is an age restriction. This information is not that far into the history that other listing agents couldn't find it. I call both my colleagues to ask "what gives?"

The story goes like this, the city agreed to allow high density development on the site with a covenant restricting the age of all residents to over 19 so that a school would not have to be built and the road would not need to be widened. The building is 5 years old and many of the first purchasers are still there and not too happy that people with children are moving in. That is not what they "paid" for. And, because it's not in the strata bylaws, the covenant gets missed. Not too many people get an interpretation of the covenants.


So, what about the kids living there? Well, it seems that the strata council has turned "a blind eye" to the matter. But does that make it okay? What happens when a disgruntled owner goes back to the city to complain about the breach of the covenant? As a realtor, do we ignore the fact and tell our buyer to ignore it to and go ahead and buy? After all, others have done it and so far there have been no apparent consequences. There is no strata bylaw.

I have to credit to my colleague and her savvy buyers. There was just too much risk in this purchase for them. You can't counsel clients into purchasing a home with the potential for unhappiness, stress and potential legal actions. So, for now we are still searching for the "perfect" starter that allows dogs and kids.

Comments (8)

The Stewart Team - Abdon Stewart NMLS 213207
AmeriFirst Financial Inc NMLS 145368 AZ BK #0013635 Equal Housing Opportunity - Peoria, AZ
Real Professionals Helping Real People

They definately made the right decision. No sense in buying something and then constantly wondering if "they" are going to be the ones that tip the scales for someone to complain, and then what a mess to deal with. Great post

Jan 28, 2011 02:01 AM
Billi Evans
Murney Associates - Springfield, MO

Your clients are lucky to have found you.

Jan 28, 2011 02:03 AM
Daniel J. Hansmeier
Rochester, MN

Better to be safe than sorry. Good decision.

Jan 28, 2011 02:04 AM
Melissa Juarez
Massachusetts Buyers Broker Agency, LLC - Quincy, MA

Thanks Jan for the post and the commentary. You are correct you can not place the buyers in a situation where there is potential for much aggravation down the road.

Jan 28, 2011 02:04 AM
Melissa Hailey
North Texas Top Team, REALTORS (Plano, Murphy, Wylie) - Plano, TX
Collin County Realtor-Lucas, Murphy, Plano, Parker

I agree - it's better to find out now and terminate the contract (even if you loose a few bucks) instead of buying the home, moving in, and then being unhappy with your home.  Great information for everyone here!

Jan 28, 2011 02:04 AM
Kristal Kraft
Novella Real Estate - Denver, CO
Selling Metro Denver Real Estate - 303-589-2022

You are so correct in counseling the buyers to move on.  Doing it otherwise would have been very risky, one never knows when a rule will be enforced.

Too bad the city felt the need to restrict children.  It really doesn't help property values!


Jan 28, 2011 02:04 AM
Jan Rankin Richmond
Sutton Group Seafair Realty - Richmond, Ladner & Tsawwassen - Richmond, BC
South Delta Realtor

Abdon - exactly. Thanks for your comment.

Billi - thanks!

Jan 28, 2011 02:05 AM
Jan Rankin Richmond
Sutton Group Seafair Realty - Richmond, Ladner & Tsawwassen - Richmond, BC
South Delta Realtor

Kristal - the development is in area of dense commercial properties on the waterfront. It actually makes sense from the city's perspective.

Daniel, Melissa & Melissa - the outcome is a great sense of trust on behalf of the buyer and their parents have referred friends. Thanks for your comments. 

Jan 28, 2011 02:08 AM