Making an offer, House Key, Schools
School room with empty desks


Dear David,
We are first time buyers and quite nervous about the process. If we make an offer and can’t get our financing, can we get our deposit back? – Cash Conscious

DEAR CASH: The short answer is “yes”. A properly drafted offer includes the provision that if any condition is not met, the deposit will be returned in full. Deposits flow out of the listing brokerage’s trust account; to be released, they generally require the signatures of both parties (buyer and seller) via mutual release.

As a buyer, if you breach an agreement (in other words, if you walk away from the deal after all conditions have been removed and the agreement is “firm”), a refund is unlikely. If the seller doesn’t agree to the release, it will likely be a judge who decides who gets to keep the deposit.

Dear David,
When I put my house up for sale, where does the key go? – Safety First

DEAR SAFETY: Typically, your Realtor will install a lock box on your property. It can be in a conspicuous location or hidden, depending on your preference. A key will be installed inside the secure box. When a licensed Realtor requests a viewing of your property, your agent will provide them the lock box combination so they can access the property at a time that has been approved by you. There are a few exceptions to lock box protocol that usually involve condominiums. We can touch on those in a later column.

Dear David,
We are moving to Waterloo Region from overseas. How do we find the best schools? – Avid Learner

DEAR AVID: An experienced Realtor will be familiar with our area and can be a great source of neighbourhood information. If you’ve landed a job in town, contacts at your new company may also be willing to offer their opinions. If you prefer to compare statistics, the online Fraser Institute School Rankings ( ranks elementary and secondary schools on a variety of factors such as math and literacy scores. I also suggest a quick call to your prospective principal, as they can offer insight into the school culture.

Specialised programs may also factor into your decision. Faith-based education, IB, French immersion, apprenticeship opportunities and a variety of magnet programs are available within our Region. That said, the right family support can be as important as anything else. We see successful students in every demographic and neighbourhood and are lucky to live in a region with excellent opportunities in a wide variety of places.