A couple who bought a home in Sudbury, Ont., blindly and with no strings attached, say they were swept away by a hot housing market and now have deep regrets. They share their story as a cautionary tale to other potential buyers about the importance of due diligence.

Josh Keyes and Yuri Nakashima were thrilled to be able to buy their first home in Sudbury after being off the market in Vancouver. But when they walked into their newly purchased home earlier this month, they discovered it was far from a dream home.

“Once we opened the door, we immediately began to realize the terrible state this place is in,” Keyes said.

Keyes said he and his wife now faced tens of thousands of dollars in repairs on a property they had already paid about $60,000 more than the asking price for.

Warm market pressure

Keyes and Nakashima had lived in Vancouver for six years and said buying a home there was out of the question due to high prices, so they started looking elsewhere. Keyes, who is originally from Kapuskasing, Ont., also wanted to be closer to his family, so the couple moved to Sudbury.

Located in northern Ontario, Sudbury has seen its housing prices rise rapidly, in part thanks to buyers from major markets attracted by its relative affordability.

Not wanting to travel across the country to view homes, the couple worked with a real estate agent remotely, relying on listing photos to inform their decisions. Keyes said he was told by his agent that an offer with conditions was unlikely to be accepted. So they beckoned for a home inspection.

Josh Keyes and Yuri Nakashima thought they’d found a nice home in Northern Ontario, but discovered many problems once inside. (Sarah MacMillan/CBC)

“We felt a lot of pressure because all the news kept saying house prices were going up and up, and we don’t know if there will be a turnaround. It might just keep going up and then we’ll be out of the market. housing forever,” Keyes said.

“We thought it would be our last chance to have a house.”

The ground is collapsing

Keyes and Nakashima bought a home in west Sudbury, which Keyes said looked “stunning” in the ad photos.

He said the sellers did not disclose any issues with the house. But when they first entered the house after taking possession in February, they discovered cockroaches, a sewer line that needed replacing, holes under the baseboards and a rotting support beam under the home.

“The ground is collapsing, it’s sinking,” Keyes said.

Josh Keyes shows a house window completely detached from the window frame. (Sarah MacMillan/CBC)

Keyes and Nakashima said they didn’t feel they were advised on proper due diligence and they didn’t believe their realtor acted in their best interests.

“Of course, that’s a lot of our responsibility. But as first-time home buyers and we rely on the real estate agent to really guide us through the process, I think she’s also responsible, as well as the seller,” Keyes said.

CBC contacted the real estate agent the couple worked with, but did not hear back.

Duties of a real estate agent

Julie Robert, the broker-owner of Century 21 Integrity in Sudbury, said unconditional offers have been typical for a year and a half, although in recent weeks some offers have been accepted with conditions.

As for clients who buy a home without seeing them, she said that’s something she sees more frequently. In these cases, it advises customers of the advantage of a pre-inspection, before submitting an offer. Although less thorough than a full home inspection, “at least it gives the client an idea of ​​potential issues with the property,” Robert said.

Ultimately, she says, acting in the best interests of customers means providing them with information.

“Every client’s risk tolerance will be different. … I think it’s just important to explain to clients what their options are to get started,” Robert said.

Keyes said tenants who lived in the house before he and Nakashima bought it used fabric to fill a gap under the baseboard to block strong drafts. (Sarah MacMillan/CBC)

If someone buys a house with no strings attached, Robert said there could be remedies, although those could be costly.

“I think if you can prove that the sellers hid something, you can definitely go back to your lawyer and I guess sue them. But at the end of the day, you’re still trying to prove that the sellers knew about the problem. in advance and just didn’t reveal it,” Robert said.

Keyes and Nakashima said they are considering their options and plan to speak to a lawyer and possibly file a complaint with the Real Estate Council of Ontario.