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How disclosure pertains to real estate transactions in Canada

Is it incumbent upon a real estate agent in Canada to divulge information about a property that could make the difference between a sale and a property sitting on the market for a while? That actually depends upon what that information entails. Disclosure rules around real estate transactions in Canada are definitive.

The truth is, by law, in most provinces -- including Alberta -- a realtor does not have to disclose that something untoward happened in the home like murder or suicide. Disclosure laws apply to things like faulty wiring, mould, a roof badly in need of repair or a furnace that isn't doing its job properly. Anything that does not actually affect the physical property is pretty much under the buyer beware rule. Many sales people, however, go by their moral compasses and do disclose violent events that have taken place at, or in close proximity to, a property.

If, however, a realtor is asked a question directly relating to the home's history, he or she must tell the truth. But if the seller has no idea about the home's history, it is unlikely a realtor will. Some of these happenings go back years and many are simply forgotten. Nevertheless, if it the stigma still exists, it may be better to acknowledge it, rather than it become the purple elephant in the room during possible contract negotiations.

If this is something that is likely to disturb buyers and sellers alike, a clause can be written into an agreement of purchase and sale during the course of real estate transactions stating that no violent incidents like murder or suicide happened in the home or that they did and the seller is being transparent about it. A lawyer in Canada can review such contracts to make sure they adhere to real estate law. In these cases, it may be wise to seek the counsel of an experienced real estate lawyer.

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