Ottawa Condo Information

Resale Condos

Condo ownership in Ottawa can involve many types of housing – from apartment style buildings to townhomes and even single family homes on shared lots. Condo owners have exclusive rights to everything from their walls in but share the common areas like elevators, pools, club houses, hallways, parking lots and grounds where the maintenance is the responsibility of the condo association. Living in a condo is more advantageous financially than an apartment rental as you build equity with each payment rather than lining a landlords pockets.

Condo fees range with each development.  Some high-end projects command as much as $1.00 per square foot. The maintenance fees can cover hydro, water, heating and A/C, common elements, elevators, landscaping, snow removal, and general maintenance.  A common concern buyers express is the potential for escalating maintenance fees. The owners of the individual units elect a Board of Directors who determine what the fees need to be in order to run and maintain the building. A consultant is hired to advise on these matters. Condo fees also build a reserve fund which covers large capital expenditures – like a new roof or pool updates. As a building ages it will require additional repair and upkeep, if the reserve fund isn’t adequate to cover these fees a “special assessment” can be levied to cover the expense through additional payments or the condo fees themselves can be increased.

There are a few extra steps involved in purchasing a condo in Ottawa, these can include a review of the condo documentation and reserve fund as well as an inspection of common elements to ensure that  everything is in order. Call Tom today for help purchasing your dream condo!

New Condos

Buying off Plans

Buying off plans can be very difficult for buyers. Your Realtor can help avoid plan issues like: wasted space in hallways, narrow living rooms, insufficient balcony depth, entrances that lead directly into a den, no separation between bedrooms and bathrooms that can only be accessed through a bedroom. 

Standard vs Upgrade Features

Many new buyers who enter a sales center get excited when they see the model suite.  They are showcased with the right style, size and position of furniture to make the model suite look larger than it is.  Most importantly, the model suite contains the highest-end finishes.  This will include kitchen cabinets, backsplash tile, flooring, tile in the bathroom, countertops and appliances.  In order to get a unit that is even close in appearance to the model suite, means spending many thousands of dollars more.  The standard finishes are not to be confused with the upgraded finishes that a buyer will note on the showroom floor.

Taxation

HST of 13% applies to new condos in Ontario.  However, this HST is not directly passed on to the purchaser. A practice has developed whereby the developer usually builds  HST into the list price of the unit. The government provides a rebate of up to $24,000 on new purchases, however, since the HST is built into the price the developer generally asks that the rebate be assigned back to them. However, investors who will not be occupying the unit (either renting it out or selling), will be charged the HST and the rebate will not be available.  Thus, it is important for all investors to factor an additional 13% HST cost into their budget – on top of purchase price.  HST is not applicable to resales.  

Cool Off Period

By law in Canada, any buyer who purchases a new condo has ten days after signing the agreement to cancel with no penalty.  The ten day period commences once a buyer has signed the Agreement of Purchase and Sale and has received all condominium documents. This “cooling off” period allows consumers, their Realtor and their lawyer to review the condo documentation and make a decision outside of the high pressure environment of the sales centre.  Within that 10 day “cooling off” period, the contract can be cancelled for any reason whatsoever, with no questions asked with the deposit returned to the buyer.

Mortgage

Most lenders will only honor a pre approved mortgage commitment for 90 to 120 days. It is important when buying a new condo in Ottawa to consider the length of the approval as often a new build can take several years to complete. It the commitment cannot be extended a buyer may be facing a different interest rates with the possibility of higher payments upon move in.

Assignment

Some investors choose to sell their units before the condo has registered and they have received clear title.  This is sometimes allowed, unless their Agreement of Purchase and Sale states otherwise. However, the developer will often write into the contract an assignment condition that charges fees to the buyer if they sell before registration.  The fees range and are there to protect the developer’s investment, since they may still have units to sell in the development and do not want to compete against investors who “flip” their unit.

Occupation Fees

If you buy a condo on one of the lower floors you may be told to move into the unit while they are still finishing the upper levels. At this point the developer cannot register the condo, which means you cannot receive clear title to your new home! You will be charged a fee that is typically equal to a mortgage payment and condo fee. Essentially this is rent until the building registers and you own the unit. You will not be paying down your mortgage while paying these fees but will be able to occupy the unit. These can be avoided by purchasing on upper floors – although they are generally more expensive.

Call Tom today to help you navigate through your new or resale condo purchase in Ottawa!