Quick Guide for Sellers to the New Alberta Real Estate Purchase Contract.

Changes to the AREA Contract:
Selling Your Home in Alberta.


The July 2017 Alberta Real Estate Association (AREA) purchase contract has 10 major changes. I posted a long blog and podcast about these changes recently, but sometimes a quick guide is helpful. Below are the three most important changes from your perspective as a seller: Permits, Dower Rights, and Vacant Possession.

1. Permits

As seller you must disclose in the contract:

  1. Whether you have received or know about any government/city notices about your property. You must also disclose whether you know about any lack of permits. Notices could be about anything. Could be more important things like upgrading or moving electrical service or pending work on water or gas lines. Or perhaps smaller but irritating notices regarding getting rid of noxious weeds or your responsibility to mow the grass on attached municipal property.
  2. What about, “known lack of permits for any development on the Property…”? If you put a family room in the basement with an extra bathroom, it probably won’t be good enough to say, “I didn’t know I needed permits for the plumbing and electrical.” You most likely will be responsible for getting permits if permits were required.

Deal with these issues when you are listing the property with your realtor. Tell your realtor everything you think is relevant. Solving issues, especially permit issues takes time and money. Your sale will certainly be delayed and a buyer will want some of the sale proceeds held back if these issues come up closer to the closing date.


2. Dower Rights:

Dower is an old legal concept all about the rights of a non-title spouse. If you are married (not common law), on title by yourself, and either you or your spouse have ever lived in the sale property at any time since your marriage, then your spouse not on the title must consent to the sale of the property. The change in the new contract is that your non-title spouse must sign a Dower Consent as part of the real estate purchase contract. Formerly, this was taken care of by lawyers in the closing paperwork. Now you have to deal with it much earlier in the sale process. Failure to disclose could void the contract.

Coaching: your non-title spouse must be on board with your decision to sell the property. If they aren’t, they won’t sign the Dower Consent and your deal will collapse.


3. Vacant Possession:

The 2014 contract said that, as seller, you had to provide vacant possession to the buyer, “subject to the rights of existing tenants, if any.” The September 2016 contract now says you have to give the buyer vacant possession. No more, “subject to the rights of existing tenants, if any.” If there are tenants, it’s up to you to advise the buyer. The buyer may want to take over your tenants—especially if they are an investor. But, they may not and it’s up to you to negotiate a closing date that allows you to meet the obligation of giving vacant possession. There are lots of possibilities under this scenario, too many to discuss here. Bottom line, unless you know for sure your property will be vacant on possession day, then you need to address the issue in your contract negotiations. This is a tricky area.


For an in-depth discussion of the new 2017 AREA contract, including a podcast with explanations, check the following linked blog post: https://barrymcguire.ca/2018/05/30/real-estate-purchase-contract-alberta

You can also ask your realtor about other changes and consult us at Field Law in Edmonton. Get in touch with Barry today if you’re planning on selling your home in Alberta!

“House renting, buying, selling contract” image by Mark Moz used under CC Attribution 2.0 Generic.