A brand new condo! What could be more exciting? With your condo’s construction completed, a buyer might think that moving in is the easy part, right? Well, maybe…

Jordan Beach, vice-president of sales and service for Qualex Landmark, says that even though an approximate completion date might be given in the purchase contract, the process is far from finished. The developer, the City and the Land Titles Office all have to coordinate with each other to ensure that the Occupancy Certificate has been granted and the Condominium Plan has been registered. The timing for these important steps may be affected by many outside factors such as contractors, third-party suppliers, and even the weather. For example, Beach says, it is not unusual for the City take to take two to four months to issue the Occupancy Certificate after construction is completed.

Once in the position to move forward with occupancy, the developer will send the homebuyers a homeowner’s package explaining the specifics of the possession date and the process for moving in. The package is likely the single most important source of information that the buyer will have. Beach says that “some buyers are busy or don’t realize the importance of the homeowner’s package and to read documentation can be a bore, but we cannot stress how important it is to read the updates.”
Generally speaking, Beach says, the lower units will have notice of their actual possession dates three weeks in advance and higher units will receive a little more notice. Once the buyer has a possession date from the developer, it is advisable to start making inquiries to moving companies and other related services, like Internet, cable television and utilities.

Not only do the homebuyers have to coordinate their moving plans for the possession date given by the developer, they have to turn their minds to two other extremely important issues: finding a lawyer for their purchase transaction, and finalizing their mortgage financing. Because of the rules related to mortgage funding and Land Titles registration for newly built condos, buyers should meet with their lawyer for document signing at least 10 business days prior to possession date.

If the document signing does not take place within this time frame, there is the possibility that the mortgage lender will not be able fund on time and the possession date will have to be moved forward. Buyers should not book holidays or other trips out of the city during the two-week period prior to their possession date. Most banks will not agree to have a mortgage funded on the basis of a Power of Attorney having been signed by the buyer, so the buyer’s availability for signing is critically important.
Developers may be able to accommodate requests for specific possession dates, but when hundreds of new owners are moving into the building, alternate possession dates may not be available.

Moving into a brand new condo might be one of the most exciting things you’ll ever do, but patience, planning and good communication with the developer, the mortgage lender and the lawyer is essential to ensure the whole process goes smoothly.

By: Catherine Stark

Catherine Stark, B.A., LL.B., is the owner of Concept Law Group – a Calgary-based boutique real estate firm. Catherine Stark and her team have more than 30 years of legal experience. Visit conceptlaw.ca, email her at cstark@conceptlaw.ca or call 403.517.3333.