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Do real estate transactions offer cooling off periods?

Many consumers in Alberta have likely experienced impulsive buying that comes back to haunt them a day or two later. This happens to so many people that the law allows cooling off periods, during which time consumers can cancel certain types of deals. Although this does not apply to all real estate transactions, Alberta consumers have a chance to call off a condominium purchase they made without proper consideration or for any other reason.

A developer must deal fairly with a purchaser, and because hype and publicity can influence a consumer's decision, there must be the opportunity to get out of a commitment to purchase a new condo. In Alberta, the developer must offer the purchaser the opportunity to rescind the agreement within a 10-day period. If a deal is cancelled within this rescission period, the buyer cannot be held liable.

Most contracts have conditions and clauses that can provide an escape if any of those are breached or unfulfilled, but without a cooling off period, there is no way out of a watertight contract. Even if there is no indication of a rescission period in the contract, it is a condominium purchaser's legal right. He or she has10-days to reconsider the purchase and may withdraw the offer without consequences or penalties. The legalities of bowing out of a deal during those 10 days may be more intricate than anticipated.

It might be appropriate to consult with a skilled Alberta lawyer who is experienced in dealing with all matters related to real estate transactions. Such a professional can explain the conditions and determine when the 10-day cooling off period starts -- to make sure action is taken before it expires. Also, a lawyer can prepare the notice of intention to cancel in writing to avoid accusations by the developer that the notification was not received within the allowed 10-day period.

Source: FindLaw Canada, "What are cooling off periods?", Miriam Yosowichit, March 31, 2017

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