The New Condo Buying Experience
By Denise Lash
A client of mine recently purchased a condominium from a developer. The unit won’t be completed for a couple of years yet but judging from his excitement, you would think he is moving in tomorrow.
I found it interesting to hear him recount his experiences purchasing the unit. As a lawyer who has been specializing in condominium law for over 15 years, I’ve developed a natural level of resistance to the excitement and pressures of the purchasing process, probably in the same way a doctor becomes used to the sight of blood.
I find myself focusing on the details of the agreements and contracts and tuning out the promotion surrounding the units. But listening to my client recount his experiences, I was reminded that there are some useful lessons to take out of the process.
First, it’s easy to get carried away in the excitement of the process. Despite the fact that most people are purchasing the single largest asset they will own, each of us finds it difficult to resist envisioning ourselves enjoying the lifestyle being promised by the developer.
That’s not a bad thing in moderation but its important to stay grounded and exercise good judgment. Make sure that you’re buying into a lifestyle that will be compatible with who you really are and one that, realistically, you will be able to afford.
Second, appreciate that purchasing a condominium from a developer is an overwhelming process for most people. The agreements of purchase of sale are lengthy and complex. Many nuances are built into the agreements. You are being introduced to concepts – common elements, monthly common expense fees and occupancy dates- that are foreign to most purchasers.
The notion of moving into your new unit while construction on the rest of the building is still ongoing can be unsettling. An experienced real estate agent and lawyer familiar with condominiums can guide you through the process and explain these concepts to you.
Third, be prepared to handle the pressure that comes with purchasing a condominium and try not to let it affect your better judgment. In many on site sales offices today, you will often see large numbers of prospective purchasers waiting to speak to sales agents.
The competition for the better units is often intense. Despite the significance of your purchase to you, it is easy to feel that you are on a short fuse facing a “take it or miss out” situation. In those situations, take your time and think clearly.
While people occasionally regret the condominium they didn’t purchase, more often they regret the condominium they purchased as a snap decision, feeling they were under pressure to make a choice. Take your time, think clearly and be prepared to walk away if you’re not comfortable.
Fortunately, the Condominium Act in Ontario provides for a ten day cooling period after you’ve signed your agreement of purchase and sale with a developer in case you get too caught up in the process.