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Navigating Pre-Construction

Purchasing a pre-construction condominium in Toronto presents unique considerations that differ significantly from the process of acquiring a resale condo. Delving into this venture requires a comprehensive understanding of various facets, from deposit requirements and cooling-off periods to construction delays, changes, and financial considerations. Let's delve deeper into these essential aspects to provide you with a thorough perspective on this real estate journey.

Deposit Structure and Timing

In contrast to the 5% deposit typically required for resale condos upon signing the agreement, pre-construction condo buyers face more substantial deposit demands. Builders often stipulate deposits of 15% to 20% to finance the construction process adequately. Initially, a fixed amount, typically ranging from $3,000 to $5,000, is due upon signing the agreement. The remaining 5% is expected within a window of 10 to 15 days. Subsequent deposit installments are scheduled in phases, such as an additional 5% at 30 days, another 5% at 90 days, and a further 5% at 180 days. Alternatively, deposit milestones might align with key construction stages, such as 5% upon groundbreaking and another 5% upon occupancy.

The Crucial 10-Day Cooling Off Period

Ontario law mandates a 10-day cooling off period for buyers of new condos. Unlike business days, this timeframe encompasses calendar days, affording buyers an essential window for reassessment. During these ten days, prudent buyers arrange financing pre-approval and seek legal counsel to meticulously review the purchase agreement. Should a buyer opt to reverse their decision within this cooling off period, they are entitled to withdraw from the contract without any financial repercussions, securing the return of their deposit.

Navigating Construction Delays and Changes

The optimism surrounding anticipated completion dates for condominiums often collides with the reality of construction complexities. Builders retain the prerogative to extend construction timelines for various reasons, leading to delays that can surpass initial estimates by a substantial margin – ranging from a minimum of six months to potentially extending to two years. Specifics about delay provisions and potential penalties are explicitly outlined in the purchase agreement. Buyers must also be cognizant that builders retain the authority to enact changes to unit layouts, building designs, and amenities, even after pre-sales have transpired. While safeguards exist against "material changes," prospective buyers should undertake diligent scrutiny of the sales agreement and cultivate flexibility to accommodate potential alterations.

The Interim Occupancy Period

Following construction completion, the interim occupancy phase comes into play, allowing buyers to physically occupy their units. Notably, during this interval, buyers do not yet hold the legal ownership of the property. Instead, they remit payments to the builder, approximating mortgage payments, condo fees, and taxes. This interim arrangement serves as a bridge until the formal transfer of ownership materializes.

Anticipating Condo Fees and Closing Costs

Inaugural condo fees for new developments often manifest at conservative levels. These estimates are contingent on early projections and the inherent uncertainty surrounding actual operating costs. Consequently, potential buyers should brace for pronounced escalations in condo fees during the initial two-year span, a percentage increase that typically fluctuates between 10% and 20%. Furthermore, as the condominium attains official registration and the closing process unfolds, buyers become accountable for a spectrum of builder closing costs. These expenses, comprising diverse adjustments and fees, can aggregate to a range of 1% to 3% of the original purchase price.

The Condo Reserve Fund and HST Dynamics

Prospective purchasers of pre-construction condos must earmark funds equivalent to a two-month allotment of condo fees. This allocation fulfills the obligation of contributing to the condo's reserve fund, an essential component serving as an emergency reserve. It's imperative to internalize this requisite commitment when preparing for the eventual closing process.

Unlike their resale counterparts, new condos are subject to the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST). For end-users seeking to occupy the unit themselves, HST rebates are typically applicable. However, it's important to note that these rebates are frequently already integrated into builder prices. On the other hand, investors pursuing pre-construction condos must navigate a distinct HST rebate process, necessitating at least a year of rental tenancy to qualify for the rebate. Failure to meet these requirements could entail an HST payment upon closing. Given the intricacies and potential financial ramifications, enlisting legal guidance to ascertain HST rebate eligibility is prudent.

In summary, embarking on the journey of purchasing a pre-construction condominium in Toronto demands a multifaceted approach. From comprehending deposit structures and leveraging the cooling-off period to accommodating construction uncertainties and financial intricacies, a well-informed perspective is paramount. Prospective buyers are well-advised to delve into comprehensive research, engage legal expertise, and embrace a meticulous stance to successfully navigate the complexities inherent to this distinct realm of real estate.


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