Let us assume that on January 1, 2000 you are buying a property with a closing date of December 31, 2000 and your rate commitment or “cap” as shown on your commitment is for a period of fourteen months at 6.4%. What this means is that so long as the deal closes on or before the date that is fourteen months from the date of the commitment, the bank will honour the rate they have agreed to. Sometimes deals get extended past the time that the “cap” guarantees. What happens? The lender no longer is legally bound to honour the old rate. In our example if the rates moved up to 7.5% and the closing was extended to June 30, 2000, the lender would have the option of telling you that the new rate was 7.5%.
There are more issues as you will have to decide if you still want the mortgage and the lender will have to decide if it would still be prepared to give it to you: that is correct, remember if rates rise the money needed to carry the same amount of mortgage also rises and if you were tight on your financing you may no longer qualify. The moral of the story is to ensure that you negotiate a “Cap” for as long a period as possible. Quite often the mortgages offered by the builders on site have built-in extension protection. Ask for it as part of your purchase agreement from the builder or commitment letter from the lender.
When Do I Need a Lawyer?
Lately I have had a large number of new buyers come to me after the 10 day cooling off period for condominiums, or the conditional periods in a regular new home offer have expired. When I ask why they waited I get one of three standard responses.
1. I didn’t think I needed a lawyer until it was time to close.
2. The sales agent told me I didn’t need a lawyer until it was time to close.
3. The builder said he wouldn’t change anything.
A lawyer must advise you at the time you make your offer, to help you avoid all of those clauses where builders look for extra money that could cost thousands of dollars you do not expect on closing. It is critical that you see a lawyer before your deal is firm. It is important that your lawyer explains all the potential costs you will face and the potential changes and the potential delays you may encounter. Insist on this and if you don’t get what you want or need see another lawyer.
Once you understand these issues you can return to the builder and negotiate your purchase from a position of knowledge. Lawyers are service providers just like anyone else and as the customer make sure you get the necessary information to make an educated decision.
There is a clothing retail chain that I remember in Florida that has a slogan which sounds sort of like, “An educated consumer is our greatest asset”. This holds true for much of life and seeing this is one of the most important purchases you will ever make, become an EDUCATED CONSUMER!!! You can’t get this service at a Closing Centre, only from a real life, breathing, lawyer who will point out the good and the bad, who will by law, explain title insurance and by law, have the responsibility to take care of you. If a builder says he won’t change anything in the offer, it will have to be the fairest offer ever written or find a new location.
That’s all for today and remember only a lawyer can give legal advice. Happy home hunting.