Heather Stitt, Broker | Re/Max at Blue Realty Inc., Brokerage | Direct: (705) 888-1974 realestate@heatherstitt.com

Condo Resources & Information

CMHC-CondoBuyersGuide

What’s Inside: Condominium Basics | Condominium Governance | The Pros and Cons of Condominium Ownership | Buying a Condominium | Checklists | Tips and FAQs | Tips for Buying a New Condominium | Tips for Buying a Resale Condominium | Checklist for Buying a New Condominium | Checklist for Buying a Resale Condominium | Condominium Purchase and Recurring Costs | Physical Evaluation Checklist (for Resale Units) | Questions to Ask Advisors and Condominium Experts | Frequently Asked Questions |Glossary
Provincial/Territorial Fact Sheets


 

 

COA

Condo Owners Association (COA) 

Condo Owners Association (COA) is a non profit Association to represents Condo Owners of residential and commercial condominiums.  COA was founded in March 2010 by Linda Pinizzotto with the vision to provide a voice for Condo Owners and promote better governance, accountability, operations and regulation in the operations of all condominiums.
www.coaontario.com


 

consumer protectionMinistry of Government and Consumer Services
Consumer Protection when buying a Condo

Learn about your rights before and after you buy a condo, and your responsibilities as a condo owner. www.ontario.ca/page/consumer-protection-when-buying-condo

 

 

Condo Challenges: The particulars of the condominium market

Condominiums are a different beast from other types of real estate. Two seasoned Ontario REALTORS®, both with more than 25 years of experience in this unique market, discuss the specific challenges of working with condos. They share their insights and experiences to help you navigate a market that is distinct from the usual residential sales.

Understanding condo sales

“When you buy a condominium, you’re buying part of a corporation,” says Charles Sezlik, an Ottawa Realtor with 25 years’ experience in condo sales. “It’s unlike other residential purchases in that you have full ownership rights to the dwelling but you’re also part of a larger community.”

Buying a condo should be viewed as similar to purchasing stock, he says, and the best approach is to research the corporation thoroughly before investing. “There are many things buyers must review before they purchase a condo,” says Sezlik. “First, there’s the status certificate, which is a summary of the building’s current status. It’s a general overview that outlines the condominium corporation’s budget, any pending legal actions  and any special assessments for which the owners may be responsible — to name a few.”

Realtors will typically include in an offer a condition that allows the buyers and/or their lawyers to review and accept the status certificate. The status certificate is usually reviewed once an offer has been made and accepted. However, the certificate may be obtained earlier in the process if desired.

“Buying a condo should be viewed as similar to purchasing stock, and the best approach is to research the corporation thoroughly before investing.”

Usually, the Realtors or owners order and obtain the status certificate from the property management company, which normally has 10 days to supply that document. If the lawyer is satisfied with the status certificate, he or she then notifies the buyer to recommend waiving that condition.

Linda Pinizzotto is a Toronto Realtor and the founder and president of the Condo Owners Association of Ontario (COA). She has worked with condo buyers and sellers for 35 years. Pinizzotto says the status certificate also confirms that the building has an insurance policy and solid reserve funds. In addition, it gives the prospective buyer information about the individual unit and whether the maintenance fee payments are up to date. The buyer’s lawyer will confirm legal names of ownership and level description of the unit, as well as parking and locker details.

“With condos, you’re not buying an individual property — you’re buying into a corporation with a lot of other owners and you will have restrictions,” says Pinizzotto. “People must understand what they’re buying. I always advise clients to learn as much as they can beforehand.” She notes that if people want to buy a place that increases in value, they should pay attention to the maintenance fees. “If maintenance fees are too high, that will affect the value of the property and will limit their ability to move up to a different property in the future if they wish.”

She also advises Realtors and buyers to learn more about the COA. “It helps clients keep an eye on their condominium boards and investments.”

Do some reading

Realtors are advised to learn as much as possible about the Condominium Act, 1998, the law that governs condominiums in the province. This legislation continues to be in effect today. However, since the act came first came into force, the condo sector has changed greatly in size and complexity. For that reason, the government intends to overhaul the act and update it in ways that address modern issues and complexities, addressing concerns such as dispute resolution and better access to information for condo owners.

Proposed changes to the act are currently being reviewed by the provincial legislature. Bill 106, Protecting Condominium Owners Act, 2015, aims to amend and update the original act. Realtors are advised to follow the news in the months ahead as these updates are discussed. Watch for more details in the Realtor Edge newsletter.

When dealing with a specific offer, reviewing the reserve fund study is crucial, Sezlik says. It’s a technical audit of the building that is “extremely relevant.” Details of the reserve fund are available as part of the status certificate package, and going through this thoroughly ensures that buyers have a complete financial picture before a deal is finalized. “In Toronto, the seller usually pays for it, but in Ottawa it’s the buyer who usually orders and pays for it. Different markets have different nuances, so you need to be aware. It’s simply a matter of local protocol.”

Ask about amenities

In purchasing a condominium, buyers should look beyond the individual unit, Pinizzotto says. “You can always change your own unit at a reasonably low cost, but you must know that you’ll like and enjoy the building too. You’re buying into a lifestyle.”

Buyers are advised to take a close look at a building’s common elements and make sure they understand what is covered in the common elements, as well as any restrictions. “If you paint the walls of your balcony and it turns out they’re a common element, you may get a bill for the cost of restoring the balcony to its original colour,” Pinizzotto says.

Realtors who work frequently in condominium sales are advised to get out and see as many as possible to learn the differences between various properties in their area. For example, buyers in a new building may own their own parking spaces, but in older buildings, they may not have a designated spot. Some buildings also have restrictions about pets, and buyers should be aware of all of these details.

“Buyers are advised to take a close look at a building’s common elements and make sure they understand what is covered in the common elements.”

“You can find three 20-storey towers located throughout the city, each with two-bedroom units being 1,000 square feet, but they’re all unique,” Sezlik says. “Each building will be different in terms of age, amenities, floor plan, rules and regulations.”

Buyers should think clearly about how often they will use amenities such as a swimming pool, they advise.  Properties with more amenities can be expensive to keep up and the maintenance fees will likely be higher.

Determine what is important to your buyers and what they are willing to pay for, Sezlik advises. Focus on your clients’ needs and learn the features of various properties in order to find the best match. For instance, if your buyers plan to rent out their unit, they may want a building with fewer amenities. All buyers need to know whether expenses such as utilities are included in the maintenance fees.

New construction

With the boom in condo development over the past seven years, says Pinizzotto, many buyers are choosing condo units from plans, which can be a tricky proposition. She notes that some consumers who bypass Realtors altogether choose to deal directly with a developer. However, these buyers may be unaware of potential pitfalls that an experienced Realtor will notice.

“For instance, when a builder quotes square footage, he may be talking about the inside perimeter of the unit, not the living space,” she says. If Realtors have been working with a client interested in a new condo, it is advisable to accompany those clients on their initial visit to the condominium sales office or you may not get paid for your assistance, she says. Realtors have a valuable role to play in new construction sales, because they can read plans and know the correct questions to ask, she notes.

“Buyers should know if they’ll be living next to the elevator shaft or the trash room where there may be a smell, or what kind of mechanical system the building has,” adds Sezlik. “Some consumers work directly with the developer and when they move into their own unit, they’re surprised or disappointed. The finishes are different or other elements aren’t exactly what they expected.”

“Realtors have a valuable role to play in new construction sales, because they can read plans and know the correct questions to ask.”

Condo buyers should be informed of the issues that can arise within this unique market before they buy, he says. A seasoned Realtor can point out potential problems or discrepancies in advance. “This is a big investment and there is much to consider. Working with someone with a lot of experience goes a long way.”

Tips for working with condos

    • Make sure you know the ins and outs of the Condominium Act, 1998. Watch also for news on Bill 106, a proposed update to the original act that is currently being discussed and debated by the provincial government.
    • Get information about the Condo Owners Association to provide to your clients so they can learn more. The COA has 26 divisions across the province and represents 18,000 condo owners who have registered to be part of the association.
    • Understand the various types of condominium properties, including apartments, townhomes and work/live properties.
    • See as many condo properties as you can since they are all different.
    • Remember that all renovations to a condo must be approved by the condominium board.
  • Check that maintenance fees are no higher than 1.5 per cent of the value of the unit in order for the investment to appreciate properly.
Checklist for Buying a New Condominium
  • Verify the unit’s floor area and boundaries and that your unit factor is reasonable.
  •  Find out if you can have changes made to the placement of walls, windows and doors and what the costs would be.
  • Inquire whether the building and/or your unit will be accessible to someone with limited mobility.
  • Find out if there are plans to reduce the ceiling height anywhere in the unit.
  • Check how the units will be heated, cooled and ventilated and the location of heating and air-conditioning equipment, ventilators and hot water heaters.
  • Ask the developer about noise- and odour-reduction measures, environmental features and options for suite finishes, cabinets and fixtures.
  • Check with the developer and municipality about planned construction in the area.
  • Be clear about what is and isn’t included in the purchase price so you can compare overall costs with other condominiums.
  • Find out if your monthly condo fees are realistic, what they include, and when they’re likely to increase.
  • Investigate whether there are any “hidden” costs, such as long-term leases on building fixtures, which will be passed along to owners.
  • Check if the unit comes with a new home warranty and the extent of the warranty.
  • Assess, as best you can, whether the project will be completed by the date in the purchase agreement before making moving and financing arrangements.
  • Request a “disclosure statement” from the developer in jurisdictions where a developer must provide one before the sale agreement is binding.
  • Find out if your purchase agreement allows the developer to extend the occupancy date and check your provincial or territorial homeowner protection legislation to learn your rights if your agreed-upon occupancy date is missed.
  • Consult with your lawyer before signing any documents.

Source: CMHC Checklist for Buying a Condominium

 

Checklist for Buying a Resale Condominium
  • Find out exactly where your unit’s boundaries lie and if your unit factor is reasonable.
  • Hire a home inspector to evaluate the condition of the unit you are thinking of buying, as well as the building as a whole.
  • Consider having an indoor air quality inspection done to identify potential mold, airborne particulates, volatile organic compounds, poor ventilation and odours from other units.
  • Consult the condominium’s technical audit and/or reserve fund study, if possible, to determine the condition of the building and common property.
  • Review the corporation’s annual operating budget, end-of-year financial statements and the estoppel or status certificate.
  • Be clear about what is and isn’t included in the purchase price so you can compare overall costs with other condominiums.
  • Find out what your monthly condo fees include and when they are likely to increase.
  • Ask your experts to verify that there’s enough money in the reserve fund to cover the cost of major repairs and renewal projects.
  • Find out whether any special assessments are anticipated, what they are for, how much they might cost and when they will need to be paid.
  • Investigate whether there are any “hidden” costs, such as long-term leases on building fixtures, which will be passed along to owners.
  • Ask what municipal services the condominium receives, such as garbage pickup and snow removal.
  • Check what new home warranty coverage remains on the unit, if any.
  • Confirm that there are no legal actions against the condominium corporation.
  • Consult with your lawyer before signing any documents.

Source: CHMC Checklist for Buying a Resale Condominium

Dec. 2, 2015 - Ontario Passes Legislation to Protect Condo Owners

Province Supporting Stronger Condo Communities

Ministry of Government and Consumer Services

Today the Protecting Condominium Owners Act, 2015 passed third reading in the Ontario legislature.

The act will increase protections for condominium owners, improve how condo corporations are run and ensure that condo boards are governed professionally. Changes include:

  • Clearer, more comprehensive rules to prevent owners from being surprised by unexpected costs after purchasing a newly-built condo
  • A new Condominium Authority to provide quicker, lower-cost dispute resolution and help prevent common disputes
  • Strong financial management rules for condo corporations to help prevent financial and organizational mismanagement
  • Better governance requirements for condo boards, including training for condo directors
  • Mandatory licensing and education requirements for condominium managers

Ontario plans to move quickly to deliver upon the key commitments of this act. The province will continue to consult with members of the public and stakeholders to gather their expertise during the development of regulations and implementation of this important legislation.

Improving consumer protection for all Ontarians is part of the government’s plan to build Ontario up. The four-part plan includes investing in people’s talents and skills, making the largest investment in public infrastructure in Ontario’s history, creating a dynamic and innovative environment where business thrives, and building a secure retirement savings plan

Quick Facts

  • 1.3 million Ontarians live in condos
  • More than 50 per cent of new homes being built in Ontario are condos
  • The government received about 200 recommendations for condominium law reforms through its public consultation process

Background Information

Additional Resources

Dec. 2, 2015 Reforming Ontario's Condo Law

Province Supporting Stronger Condo Communities

Ministry of Government and Consumer Services

The need for reform

The size and complexity of Ontario’s condo market has changed dramatically since the Condominium Act was passed in 1998.

Today, Ontario has about 700,000 condo units and 10,000 condo corporations. About 1.3 million Ontarians live in a condo and more than half of new homes under construction in the province are condos.

Due to the vast growth and change in the condo sector, the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services reviewed the current Condominium Act using an innovative and collaborative public engagement process, receiving over 2,200 submissions and 200 recommendations from condo owners, developers, managers and industry experts.

The review clearly revealed that Ontario requires:

  • New laws and tools to increase consumer protection for condo owners and buyers
  • Improvements to how condominiums are run and managed
  • Means to strengthen the financial sustainability of condominium buildings  

The Protecting Condominium Owners Act is based on the submissions received during the engagement process. Passing the act has amended the Condominium Act and the Ontario New Home Warranties Plan Act, and enacted the Condominium Management Services Act to address five key areas of reform:

  1. Dispute resolution

The Protecting Condominium Owners Act enables the establishment of a Condominium Authority that would provide quicker, lower-cost dispute resolution than what is available today. It would also help prevent disputes between condo owners and boards by offering clearer information on condo owners’ rights and responsibilities.

The Condo Authority would be established as an administrative authority, an independent, self-funded, not-for-profit corporation.

To ensure accountability and transparency, the Condo Authority would:

  • Have an administrative agreement with the Minister of Government and Consumer Services
  • Be required to publicly disclose information, such as salaries and other information about compensation
  • Be subject to oversight by the Auditor General

To fund its services, the Condo Authority would have the power to set its own fees, including a small fee for all condo corporations — about $1 per unit a month, which would be collected from unit owners as a monthly common expense. Fees will support the services offered by the Condo Authority and will not be collected until the authority is in place in 2017.

  1. Consumer protection for owners and buyers

The Protecting Condominium Owners Act introduces additional safeguards to protect condo owners and buyers and help them make informed decision. The act will:

  • Require developers to give condo buyers a copy of an easy-to-read guide to condominium living at the time of sale
  • Provide clearer, more comprehensive rules to prevent buyers from being surprised by unexpected costs after purchasing a newly-built condo
  • Enable the government to create regulations for standard condominium disclosure statements and other documents, such as declarations
  • Amend the Ontario New Home Warranties Plan Act so that most of the warranty protections available to buyers of new condos would also apply to certain condo conversion projects
  1. Financial management

The Protecting Condominium Owners Act enables the government to introduce requirements that will strengthen financial management rules for condo corporations to help prevent fraud and mismanagement. For example, it would forbid condo corporations from finalizing some contracts unless they have fulfilled certain procurement process requirements.

It would also give owners more information about their condo corporations’ financial matters and more control over important changes.

Regulations under the act would also clarify rules related to reserve funds by defining what adequate reserve funds are and how condo corporations can determine if their reserve funds are sufficient.

  1. How condos are run

The Protecting Condominium Owners Act will make it easier for condo owners and boards to participate and vote at meetings. For example, condo boards would no longer have to pass a by-law in order to hold a meeting through conference calls or using similar off-site meeting technologies.

The act would also require condo boards to issue information to owners on a regular basis on topics such as the corporation’s insurance or any legal proceedings. It would also require condo directors to complete training requirements.

  1. Condo manager licensing

Passage of the Protecting Condominium Owners Act established a separate piece of legislation – the Condominium Management Services Act. Under this act, a new administrative authority would regulate condo managers and management firms by establishing a compulsory licensing system. Regulations under the act would set training and education requirements for condo managers and a code of ethics.

RE/MAX at Blue Realty Inc., Brokerage
156 Jozo Weider Blvd, Suite #9
(Beside Starbucks in The Blue Mountain Village)
Blue Mountains, Ontario L9Y 0V2
Direct: (705) 888-1974
EMAIL ME

Contact Heather

Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)

Subject

Your Message

Condo Wants & Needs

Condo Search

Tell me what you are looking for and I'll do the looking!

Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)

Your Telephone (required)

What style of Condo are you looking for? One LevelChaletTown HomeNo Preference

Minimum Number of Bedrooms.

Minimum Number of Bathrooms. 1234+

Price Range $

Where do you want to live? CollingwoodBlue MountainsCraigleithThornburyOther

Specific Condo Communities of Interest

When do you want to move?

Please provide more details about important features, i.e. swimming pool, granite in kitchen - whatever features are important. OR any questions?

Condo Wants & Needs

Condo Search

Tell me what you are looking for and I'll do the looking!

Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)

Your Telephone (required)

What style of Condo are you looking for?
One LevelChaletTown HomeNo Preference

Minimum Number of Bedrooms.

Minimum Number of Bathrooms.
1234+

Price Range $

Where do you want to live?
CollingwoodBlue MountainsCraigleithThornburyOther

Specific Condo Communities of Interest

When do you want to move?

Please provide more details about important features, i.e. swimming pool, granite in kitchen - whatever features are important. OR any questions?


Share This