Main expenses to consider for buying a pre-construction condo

26. May 2020 16:22

Are you thinking about buying a pre-construction condo? Here are the main expenses you’ll need to consider.

As you’re considering buying a pre-built new condo in the GTA, it’s important to know that the purchase price is only a portion the total condo ownership cost. In addition to your property purchase/mortgage expenses you will also have to cover a few additional items such as condo fees, insurance and property tax.

Most of the fees are based upon the size or value of your unit, the number and types of amenities and staff required to run the facilities. For example, a building that has underground parking will typically have higher maintenance fees than one that does not.

The following is a brief overview of the main expenses that usually accompany pre-built condo ownership in Toronto.

Pre-Registration costs

For all intents and purposes, once you move into a newly constructed condo building your paying rent to start. That is, until your new condo building is “registered” with a provincial land registry office. The monthly “occupancy fee” you are charged by the development once you are living in the building but before the building is registered does not go towards your mortgage. Once the building registration takes place, normal mortgage payments processes then kick in.

Here is an example of how these “pre-registration” rental costs are calculated:

Purchase price :$200.000

Deposit paid to the builder: 20% / $40.000

The remaining balance due to the builder : $160.000

Interest to the builder for this remaining balance. Builders typically take the 1 year Mortgage interest rate posted from Bank of Canada. So if the interest rate is 3.75% it would be

$160.000 x 3.75% = $6.000/12 = $500 monthly

Additionally you have to pay condo fees, let’s say $200 monthly and property taxes, calculated based on the purchase price and the property tax rate, 200.000 x 0.08 = $1600 a year – $133.33 monthly.

The occupancy fee will be $500 + $200 + $133.33 = $833.33 monthly until registration is complete.

Here is some additional information on the difference between pre-registration and registration.

Condo Maintenance Fees 

Condo fees are your share of the costs that contribute to running the building as a whole for all common areas, including amenities such as party rooms, swimming pools and fitness facilities.  Typically these fees cover items such as maintenance staff, security and repairs and are usually based on the total square footage of your condo unit. These fees also include general maintenance e.g. window cleaning, snow shoveling, cleaning and landscaping.

Portions of your monthly condo fees go into a “reserve fund”. The reserve fund is there to cover any major repairs and replacements of common elements that will be needed as time passes. These can include the roof, exterior of the building, sidewalks, roads, sewers, heating, electrical, plumbing, elevators, laundry and recreational facilities.

Increasing condo fees 

Condo fees can be increased due to an unexpected major repair not covered by the reserve fund, a lawsuit involving the condo corporation or to keep up with general rising costs of services.

Newly built condos may increase significantly in the second or third year due to certain amenities not being included in the first year. For example, a guest suite that a corporation may buy as an asset might not take effect until the second year.

Special assessments 

This is an expenses that can be charged from time to time on top of regular monthly condos fees to help pay for major unexpected repairs or to cover shortfalls in the reserve fund.

Legal Fees

While the builder usually pays real estate service costs, you will have to pay for your own legal representation. Typically real estate lawyers charge between $700.00 and $2000.00 for their services, which are mostly focused on making sure the contract you sign is in order and meets industry and governmental regulations.

Mortgage Fees

Unless you buy your condo outright, at some point you are going to need a loan. Loans associated with real estate are usually called mortgages. After the bank lends you the money needed to pay for your condo in full, a mortgage is put in place to give individuals an easy and structured process to pay that money back. This is usually structured as a monthly repayment schedule. A mortgage repayment schedule is usually set up so that in the early years, a greater percentage of each payment covers interest charges and a smaller percentage covers principal repayment. Over time, this changes so that a greater percentage of each payment goes towards paying down the principal, and less towards paying interest.

The more of the principal you pay down, the greater the equity you build up in your condo. Basically, equity is the amount of your condo that you own. For example, if your condo is worth $350,000 and your mortgage is for $300,000, you have $50,000 in equity.

Resident Insurance

In most cases, you will be responsible for and required to maintain and repair the basic elements of your unit. Interior elements of your condo unit, such as plumbing and electrical are usually covered by the condo corporation’s insurance. The rest, basically everything from the paint inward, including your furniture and other contents of the unit, would be your financial responsibility.

Insurance policies may also have an impact on you if there is damage to your condo or surrounding condos; For example if there is a flood in your condo and it damages the condo below you, you may be responsible for costs associated with the repair of the resulting damage to other condos or to common areas. Part of the cost of tenant insurance also goes to cover you for liability should you directly cause any damage to the common areas of the building.

 

Interim Occupancy

 

You’ve probably heard this term before and you’re wondering exactly what it means. Before you take official ownership and your mortgage can be registered, you will be paying a monthly fee to the developer. This is known as interim occupancy fees. These fees are similar to what your monthly carrying costs on the unit will eventually be.

They’re calculated based on an estimate of taxes, condominium fees and a monthly interest payment on the remainder of the total purchase price, meaning the money you haven’t put down to date.

It’s also important to note that you won’t be paying the maintenance fees directly to the condo corp or property tax directly to the City during your Interim Occupancy. The maintenance fees and property taxes are directly paid by the developer, so you can’t officially be billed by the City for property taxes during Interim Occupancy.

A common concern is that because a builder is receiving these fees, they benefit from extending this period for as long as possible, but this is a common misconception. In fact, there are stipulations in the Condominium Act that address the calculation of these fees, preventing developers from earning a profit this way.

During the interim occupancy period, you are legally allowed to occupy your suite, but as the building hasn’t been registered, you don’t have the title and your mortgage won’t be valid quite yet. This stage can last anywhere from a few months to two years.

 

Maintenance fees, hydro, gas, water, and property taxes all contribute to the cost of your Interim Occupancy Fees.

 

The occupancy fees you will be paying the developer to occupy your suite during this time will be calculated on a few different factors including:

  • Interest on the unpaid balance of the purchase price of your condo, which is based on the bank’s rate at the time of your interim occupancy date. To be clear, this is the total purchase price, minus your down payment.
  • An estimate on the municipal taxes for your unit.
  • Condo maintenance fees - a projected common expense contribution to keep the building running.

These fees are charged monthly during the interim occupancy period and are usually given to the developer in the form of post-dated cheques. When you meet with your lawyer to sign the Interim Closing Papers, you will also be giving them the cheques to send to your builder.

Another important part of interim occupancy is the TARION warranty process. As soon as you are granted occupancy of your unit, your one-, two- and seven-year TARION warranties begin. You can fill out your first TARION warranty form within the first 30 days of occupancy. The warranty on the common elements of your building will not begin until your condominium is registered.

Recap of Breakdown of Potential Closing Costs in the City of Toronto

 

Below is a rough estimate of what you could pay at final closing for a pre-construction condo priced at $600,000 in Toronto, which is usually around between 8 to 10% of the purchase price. (Please note that these costs vary based on your contract):

  • Common Expenses/Maintenance Fees/Condo Fees - Approximately $600 to $1200.
  • Reserve Fund - Usually equivalent to two months of condo fees, which could be approximately $1200.
  • Realty Taxes/Property Taxes - This can vary, but our estimate for the City of Toronto is 0.75%, which would total approximately $5,000 in this case.
  • Miscellaneous Costs including: Utility hookup fees, Tarion Warranty Enrollment Fee, Deposit Administration/Letter Charges, Discharge of Construction Mortgage, Site review by Tarion, Electronic Registration Fee, HST on Appliances - These costs that can add up to approximately $4,000 or $5,000.
  • Park Levies, Community Improvement Fees, Art and/or Education Levies - When a new space is developed, the developers are required to pay the municipality a certain amount for new park space, community resources or public art projects, if applicable. In turn, this is worked into the buyer’s closing costs. For a unit of our estimated price, this could be approximately $6,000.
  • Development Charges - Approximately $12,000.
  • Buyer’s Legal Fees - $1900.
  • Land Transfer Tax (Municipal) (Provincial) - This is based on purchase price - use our LTT calculator.

Pre-Construction Assignment Sale FAQ

20. May 2020 05:04

Pre-Construction Assignment Sale FAQ

Q: What is an Assignment Sale? 

A: An assignment sale is the sale of the contract for a newly built or still under construction condo unit or home. 

Q: Why do Assignment Sales Occur? 

A: Because it usually takes several years to completely build a pre-construction condo building or new home, things in someone’s life can change during that time leading to them no longer needing or wanting the home. 

Q: Are Assignment Sales Legal? 

A: Yes, assignment sales are legal. Developers will usually include a clause within the original Agreement of Purchase and Sale.  

Q: Who is the Assignor? 

A: The Assignor is the original purchaser of the Agreement of Purchase and Sale from the developer. 

Q: Who is the Assignee? 

A: The Assignee is the purchaser of the Agreement of Purchase and Sale from the Assignor. 

Q: What is the Assignor Responsible For? 

A: The Assignor will usually have to pay a small fee back to the developer and a legal fee if they choose to assign their purchase. These costs will be outlined within the Purchase of Agreement and Sale. Also if for some reason the Assignee does not close the sale at final closing. The Assignor may still be on the hook for the contract.  

Q: What is the Assignee Responsible For? 

A: The Assignee is now responsible for any and all fees and charges related to the contract; deposits, charges, occupancy fees, closing costs, etc.  

Q: How does an Assignment Sale Benefit the Assignor (Original Purchaser)? 

A: Depending on how much time has passed and how much the land has appreciated the Assignor may make a profit off of his original purchase.  

Q: How does an Assignment Sale Benefit the Assignee (New Buyer)? 

A: When the Assignee takes over the contract for the home in question, they will inherit any incentives that were included with the original purchase and will not have to wait years to move into a brand new, never lived in home. 

Q: Should I Seek the Advice of a Lawyer During This Process? 

A: Whether you are the Assignor or Assignee, it is always essential to seek the expertise of a lawyer that specializes in real estate to look over any and all paperwork and contracts and help you navigate through any legal jargon you may not understand.  

Q: Where Can I Find Available Assignment Sales? 

A: Most Assignment Sales won’t be found through MLS listings, so if you are interested in finding your dream home through an Assignment Sale, your best bet is to contact Geo Condos Certified Expert today. We specialize in preconstruction builds and are thoroughly educated in Assignment Sales and can answer any questions you have.  

First-Time Home Buyer Incentive

17. April 2020 10:25

First-Time Home Buyer Incentive

 

The Incentive enables first-time homebuyers to reduce their monthly mortgage payment without increasing their down payment.
The First-Time Home Buyer Incentive helps people across Canada purchase their first home. The program offers 5 or 10% of the home’s purchase price to put toward a down payment. This addition to your down payment lowers your mortgage carrying costs, making homeownership more affordable.

WHAT IS THE INCENTIVE?

 

The First-Time Home Buyer Incentive makes it easier for you to buy a home and lower your monthly mortgage payments. This program is a shared equity mortgage. This means that the government shares in the upside and downside of the property value. It allows you to borrow 5 or 10% of the purchase price of a home. You pay back the same percentage of the value of your home when you sell it or within a 25-year window.

It works like this:

  • You receive a 5% incentive of the home’s purchase price of $200,000, or $10,000. If your home value increases to $300,000 your payback would be 5% of the current value or $15,000.
  • You receive a 10% incentive of the home’s purchase price of $200,000, or $20,000 and your home value decreases to $150,000, your repayment value will be 10% of the current value or $15,000.

Just as the name implies, this incentive is for first-time homebuyers. You’re considered a first-time homebuyer if:

  • you have never purchased a home before
  • you did not occupy a home that you or your current spouse or common-law partner owned in the last 4 years (the 4-year period begins on January 1 of the fourth year before the Incentive is funded and ends 31 days before the date the Incentive is funded)
  • you have recently experienced the breakdown of a marriage or common-law partnership (even if you don’t meet the other first-time home buyer requirements)

AM I ELIGIBLE FOR THE INCENTIVE?

 

hese are a few criteria to determine your eligibility for the First-Time Home Buyer Incentive:

  • your total annual qualifying income doesn’t exceed $120,000
  • your total borrowing is no more than 4 times your qualifying income
  • you or your partner are a first-time homebuyer
  • you are a Canadian citizen, permanent resident or non-permanent resident authorized to work in Canada
  • you meet the minimum down payment requirements with traditional funds (savings, withdrawal/collapse of a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP), or a non-repayable financial gift from a relative/immediate family member)

The Incentive is like a second mortgage on your home. Your first mortgage must be greater than 80% of the value of the property and is subject to a mortgage loan insurance premium. It also must be eligible through Canada GuarantyCMHC or Genworth.

The insurance premium is based on the loan-to-value ratio of the first mortgage only. That is, the first mortgage amount divided by the purchase price. You don’t pay mortgage insurance on the incentive – it is included with the total down payment.

The type of home you plan to purchase plays a factor. The table indicates the type of home that qualifies for the incentive and how much of an incentive it may be eligible to receive.

HOW DO I APPLY FOR THE INCENTIVE?

 

Once you’ve been pre-approved for a mortgage, found the home you’re looking for and determined you’re eligible to apply for the incentive, it’s time to apply. Simply fill out these 2 application forms to apply for the First-Time Home Buyer Incentive:

FTHBI - SEM Information Package (PDF)

SEM Attestation and Consent Form (PDF)

Once complete, give these to your lender. They will submit the application for you.

Give the final signed copy of the shared equity mortgage package to your solicitor to retain on your behalf.

When you receive your acceptance, call First Canadian Title at 1-833-974-0963 to activate your incentive and provide the name of your lawyer/notary. (This must be at least 2 weeks prior to your closing date.)

National Housing Strategy

Still have questions about the First-Time Home Buyer Incentive?

 

Call CMHC at

1-877-884-2642.

COVID-19: Real Estate News Roundup - Key developments and considerations

13. April 2020 03:53

The COVID-19 outbreak has created a new reality for all of us, at least temporarily. Chances are you’re dealing with many new challenges, both personally and professionally. We all are.

Now, it’s up to each of us to do our part so we can get through this as quickly as possible. Remember, we’re all in this together. Stay positive and know that things will get better.

Good information and advice are often the antidote to stress, especially during challenging times. So, please, don’t hesitate to reach out to me. In a climate that is constantly evolving and changing, this Update presents key developments and considerations to assist real estate investors, landlords, tenants and other interested parties.

Realty Tax Relief

 

In response to COVID-19, municipalities across Canada have begun instituting property tax relief measures in order to aid businesses. Below is a non-exhaustive summary of relief granted by municipalities that have implemented these measures. Please refer to the applicable municipality’s publications with respect to any relief provided before relying on such relief, as there may be conditions to the applicability of the relief that are not covered by the brief summaries below.

Ontario

 

City

Relief Measure

Toronto

A 60-day grace period for property tax payments and payment penalties has been implemented as of March 16. Any pending automated withdrawals that have been scheduled within that 60-day period but not yet withdrawn have been suspended.

For property owners on the three-instalment payment plan, payments for the interim property tax bill due April 1 will be deferred until June 1.

For property owners on the 11-instalment payment plan, payments for interim 2020 instalments will be extended for a period of 60 days.

See here for more details.

Barrie

Payments for interim property tax bills will not be subject to any new late payment fees until June 30.

See here for more details.

Brampton

A five-month grace period has been granted for property tax payments and payment penalties for interim property tax bills due during the five-month period from March 18  to August 19.

See here for more details.

Caledon

Payments for the remaining interim property tax bills due in 2020 will be deferred for a period of two months.

See here for more details.

Clarington

Payments for the interim property tax bill due in April will not be subject to any late payment fees or interest for a period of 60 days.

See here for more details.

London

Payments for the interim property tax bill due March 31 will not be subject to any late payment fees or interest for a period of 60 days.

See here for more details.

Mississauga

A 90-day grace period has been granted for property tax payments for interim property tax bills due April 2 and May 7.

For property owners on monthly pre-authorized tax payments, withdrawals planned during the three-month period from April to June will be deferred for a period of 90 days.

See here for more details.

Newmarket

Payments for the interim property tax bills due March 26 and April 28 will not be subject to any late payment fees or interest. Further details are to be provided.

See here for more details.

Orangeville

A 90-day grace period for property tax payments and payment penalties has been granted.

See here for more details.

Oshawa

Payments for interim property tax bills due April 27 will not be subject to any late payment fees or interest until June 30.

See here for more details.

Ottawa

Payments for interim property tax bills due March 19 will not be subject to any late payment fees until April 15.

A property tax hardship deferral program for qualifying property owners has been created, which will extend the interim property tax and final property tax deadlines for qualifying property owners to October 30.

See here for more details.

Sudbury

Payments for the interim property tax bill due April 2 will not be subject to any late payment fees until June 4.

See here for more details.

Uxbridge

A two-month grace period has been granted for property tax payments for the interim property tax bill due in April. Payments for the first instalment of the final property tax bill due in July will be deferred until August 17.

See here for more details.

Vaughan

Payments for the interim property tax bills due March 26, April 27 and May 27 will not be subject to any late payment fees or interest until June 1.

See here for more details.

Whitby

Payments for interim property tax bills due in April will not be subject to any late payment fees or interest for a period of 60 days. Payments for the final property tax bill due in June will be deferred until July.

See here for more details. 

Windsor

Payments for the interim property tax bill due in March 2020 will not be subject to any late payment fees or interest until June 30. Payments for the interim property tax bill due April 15 will be deferred until June 30.

See here for more details.

 

Landlord/Tenant Matters

As Canadians continue to face uncertainty, both landlords and tenants alike have been closely monitoring developments. With major Canadian banks having already stated a willingness to provide flexible solutions for mortgage payments, momentum both online and in social media has picked up, calling for legislative intervention aimed at regulating both residential and commercial leasing, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Ontario

 

While rental tenancy advocacy groups have been calling for similar payment relief to apply to the rental market, that hasn’t yet become a reality. However, there have been some protections announced for renters at various provincial levels across Canada.
In Ontario, a freeze has been placed on all evictions, with Premier Doug Ford stating that while those who can afford to pay rent should continue to do so, those who are unable due to COVID-19-related reasons will not be removed from their homes, and that financial resources should prioritize medical and essential services.

On March 19, the Landlord and Tenant Board, the tribunal in Ontario responsible for resolving disputes between residential landlords and tenants, announced the suspension of eviction orders and all hearings related to eviction applications unless the matter relates to an urgent issue such as an illegal act or a serious impairment of safety. See here for more details.

Latest Government Supports and Information

 

  • The Bank of Canada Makes 2nd Emergency Rate Cut in March The Bank of Canada (BoC) cut its Overnight Lending Rate by 50 basis points on March 27 from 0.75% to 0.25% – the lowest it has been since April 2009 – as further response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the Canadian economy. 
  • Real Estate Named an Essential Service in Ontario In the evening of March 23, the provincial government released a list of businesses and industries deemed as “essential” as part of the current State of Emergency, and included real estate agent services, moving services, and land registration services among those that did not have to close operations. However, as both provincial and municipal real estate boards and associations have made clear, this does NOT mean it’s business as usual for the industry.   

    The Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA), a provincial lobbyist group, has urged brokerages and agents to stop all face-to-face business. This includes:

    • Holding open houses
    • Having public office hours
    • Having agents come in person to a brokerage office
    • In-person showings and inspections

As well, it has been strongly recommended that homes with rental tenants  dwelling there not be shown or listed for sale as long as current health advisories are in force.

In the meantime, you might have immediate concerns about the real estate market. For example, you might be wondering if you should put off moving. Or, you might need to move but are worried about all this uncertainty.

If so, give me a call. As a real estate professional, I have the latest market information, insights and tools - and can give you sound advice how to tide over such rough time.

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