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Tips for Buying Pre-Sale, Part 2: Points to Consider Before Signing on the Dotted Line

By Alaina Burnett, Realtor

You’ve visited the Sales Centre, you love the finishes in the display suite, you’ve picked out a great floor plan, and you’re now ready to commit to writing a pre-sale Contract of Purchase and Sale.  What should you do next?  What are the finer points of purchasing that you should be aware of?  A few suggestions:

Who is your REALTOR®?  When you’re ready to write a contract, do yourself a favour and call your REALTOR®.  Hopefully, it was he or she who brought you to the Sales Centre in the first place, but even if that is not the case, you have a legal right to representation.  There are several good reasons use a REALTOR®:

  • Your REALTOR® should help walk you through the Schedule A, Disclosure Statement and other lengthy documents during contract writing and the subsequent 7 day rescission or “cooling off” period. 
  • Your REALTOR® should know what pertinent questions to ask about the development that you may not have thought of.
  • Your REALTOR®, in some instances, may be able to negotiate some upgrades on your behalf. 
  • Your REALTOR® can steer you towards the developers and developments that present quality, value and long-term appreciation.

Who is the Developer?  Is it a name that you trust, and are familiar with?  What other projects have they been involved in, and have there been any construction or quality issues?  Does your REALTOR® have any clients who have bought from this company in the past, and what was their experience?  These are great questions to ask.  An experienced REALTOR® may not be seasoned at writing pre-sale contracts, but surely they have seen the finished product while listing or assisting buyers in your city.

Who is providing financing for purchasers?  During the rescission period, you should speak with the Banking contact provided by the Developer to discuss securing a rate hold.  When you are looking at starting your mortgage in two and a half to three years, most banks cannot do anything for you at this time.  However, the Bank(s) provided by the Developer are willing to offer a 24 to 36 month rate hold (although not at today’s exact interest rate—they have to hedge their bets!).  Rate holds in no way commit you to using a particular bank at completion.  They are merely a safety net for purchasers to guard against rising interest rates, should they go up dramatically during the course of construction.

Finally, are you comfortable with some uncertainty?  Not everyone is suited to buy a property in the pre-sale phase—it requires trust in the Developer, patience, imagination, and the love of a particular neighbourhood (or faith that it will improve over time).  Pre-sale Contracts of Purchase and Sale are heavily weighted to protect the Developer, who is assuming a lot of the risk and expense of taking on the marketing, sales, and construction of a project up front.   As a Buyer, you should consider yourself a silent partner in the matter—you are providing a 20% or 25% deposit (it can only be used by the Developer if it is insured), and you cannot remove yourself from the purchase until completion, or unless assignments are permitted.  Completion timing is estimated, and can be several months, or even a year, off schedule.  Suite sizes can be substantially different from marketing floorplan sizes, and there are provisions in the contract for a margin of error, and remedies for the Buyer or Seller should the square footage difference prove substantial.  Appliance brands and other finishing materials may be subject to substitution.

This is by no means a complete list of questions to ask when you’re considering buying a pre-construction home!  If you’ve thought about all the questions above, and you’re enthusiastic to know more or move forward with your purchase, contact your trusted REALTOR® at faithwilson | Christie’s International Real Estate for further information and guidance.