Using Online Forms, Sale of Buyer’s Property, Duplex vs In-Law Suite


Dear David,
I found real estate forms online and want to use them to buy my neighbour’s house. My wife is concerned that this might not be safe. – Self Sufficient

Dear Self Sufficient: Because they are available for very little cost, online forms may seem appealing when you’re trying to reduce expenses. But there are reasons why using them may not be in your best interest, especially when it comes to making one of life’s largest purchases.

Check the disclaimer on your downloadable forms and I expect you’ll find they don’t carry a guarantee or warranty, and probably include the recommendation that you seek professional advice. In a world of DIY, I understand the temptation. But in this case, a Realtor will provide current industry standard forms customized with clauses that protect your interests, negotiate on your behalf, and protect your interests as they navigate the complex details of helping you to purchase a new home.

Dear David,
We are selling our home and received a conditional offer pending the “sale of a buyer’s property”. What do we do now? – Nervous

Dear Nervous: If you have already agreed to the condition, there’s not much to do but wait it out. But if you haven’t yet agreed to it, I would ask your Realtor to do some investigation for you.

While potentially nerve-wracking for sellers, this condition is one that appears with some frequency in Agreements of Purchase and Sale. A “Sale of Buyer’s Property” condition (or SBP) stipulates that the buyer must sell their own home by a pre-determined date. If the buyer’s home sells on or before the specified date (barring any other conditions), the Purchase Agreement can move forward and become firm. If not, the contract terminates. As long as an SBP is in effect, your home is only conditionally sold.

When I receive an offer which includes an SBP, I do my own research before advising a client to accept it. If the buyer’s home is on the market (or nearly so), competitively priced and poised to attract positive attention from buyers, I may be willing to proceed with this condition in place. If a buyer seems unmotivated to sell or the property appears less desirable, I am reluctant to tie up my client’s property with an SBP that seems unlikely to end in a firm sale. In a case where we have competing offers, I would hesitate to accept an SBP as they’re just too risky.

Dear David,
We need to have a family member move in with us. Do you recommend we get a duplex, or something with an in-law suite? – Full House

Dear Full House: If this is a family member who needs care, an in-law suite may be the better choice. You can search out something with a separate entrance to afford your loved one some privacy, but at the same time can keep close tabs, should that be required. Because a duplex is set up as two completely separate units, it may be better suited to a family member you want in close proximity, but who is able to live independently.