So you purchased a pre-construction condo. You’ve driven by the location a few times over the course of construction. You’re super jazzed to hear news and updates on your building. What can you expect - and what do you need to know - before you get your keys in hand?
There are a few pretty important steps that’ll happen before you ultimately own your condo. Here’s what you need to expect:
Delays in occupancy
When you first purchase your condo, you’re given an occupancy date (called your “first tentative occupancy date). It’s the date that, under general and ideal circumstances, everything will be finished and you’ll be ready to move in.
It doesn’t usually happen.
If and when it doesn’t happen, the builder sets a new “final tentative occupancy date”, which is set within thirty days of roof completion.
The builder might instead choose to set a “firm occupancy date” instead of the “final tentative occupancy date”. Your occupancy then has to be within the “outside occupancy date”, which is the latest date that your builder has agreed to provide you with occupancy, and it should be signed in the purchase agreement.
If your actual occupancy falls after the “outside occupancy date”, then you have thirty days to terminate your purchase agreement.
Ultimately, your occupancy delays should be pre-decided, concrete calendar days that you receive well in advance, but are subject to change with enough notice. Expect this, and make note of your outside occupancy date before signing your purchase agreement.
The pre-delivery inspection
I LOVE PDIs! They’re so fun and exciting! The PDI is the first real time you get to walk through your unit and see what it looks like when the whole thing is almost finished.
But it’s not all fun and games - it’s really, really important that you show up to your PDI prepared. You’ll do a comprehensive inspection and the builder should run you through things like ventilation, heating, and plumbing, as well as your unit’s features and common areas.
You’ll receive a PDI form that goes over everything you should look for, but Tarion* provides other extremely helpful resources for you to print and bring as well: a PDI checklist, and a few pages on getting ready and understanding the PDI.
*Tarion is a regulatory body of new home construction in Ontario. From warranties to illegal building practices to builder-homeowner disputes, they set the standards and practices in the province.
Make notes on any damaged, incomplete, or missing items. The PDI form records the home’s condition before you move in. Now, this doesn’t impact your warranty coverage if you fail to note or miss any items, but it can be difficult establishing that an issue existed before you moved in if it’s not in the PDI. Put it in the PDI!
Don’t be afraid to be thorough. There is no such thing as “too polite” when it’s your investment, your time, and your money! Note everything and don’t take “we’re just getting to that” for an answer.
Side note: if you need any help running through your PDI I’m happy to help.
You should get a comprehensive welcome package on or near the date of your PDI. It will contain contact information for your property managers, your official building address, important phone numbers, and much more.
It should also include information about your unit itself - laundry machines, electrical panels, fire alarms, and more. Read through the package carefully and make note of anything that seems off or important.
Finally, it should include information about your property warranty. There are a few different lengths and coverages, and to be honest you should read up on yours thoroughly. There are a lot more details than I can cover in a post, but if you have any questions I’m happy to help!
When you first move in, you’ll get something called “interim occupancy”. You get to live there, but you don’t actually own the condo unit yet. You take possession, but not ownership.
Interim occupancy is an orderly way to move in hundreds of owners while the builder completes the condo building (after the municipality decides that the property is in move-in condition). Usuallythe lower floors move in first, as the builder works their way up the building completing amenities and common areas.
When you take possession, you will be charged an interim occupancy fee (or “phantom rent”). It’s for:
Interest on the unpaid balance of the unit purchase price
Estimate of municipal taxes of your unit
Projected common expense contribution to keep the building running
It’s a common misconception that developers extend interim occupancy for profit. Builders don’t get any benefit out of these fees and your occupancy dates are set far in advance (see above). In fact, builders make their money when they register the project, which can only be done when it’s completed. So it’s in their best interest to finish as quickly as possible.
Closing costs are not fun. They can be a gut punch. If you’re not careful or thorough in your purchase agreement, you can be hit with a fee of $30,000 or more when you close. Talk to a realtor AND a lawyer before you sign your purchase agreement!
I’m usually able to work with the developer to cap certain closing costs for my clients, avoiding exorbitant fees on closing. Closing costs can include the following:
Land Transfer Taxes
(Toronto has provincial and municipal land transfer taxes)
Approximate cost for units under $450k is 1% for provincial and 1% for Toronto land transfer tax. If your unit costs more than that, you can check out your land transfer tax estimate with this calculator.
(these can include levies, education levies, section 37 levies).
Toronto averages about $5,000 - 7,000 for 1 bedrooms and $8,000 - 10,000 for 2 bedrooms. Get them capped!
Have you paid your lawyer yet? Legal fees can be around $1,500-$2,000.
Law society fee
Mortgage discharge fee
Have any questions? I’m happy to chat about anything! Message me to go for a no-obligations coffee hangout, any time.