BY MARILYN WILSON, THE OTTAWA CITIZEN August 4, 2016
Q. My mother bought a condo in a new development. There were no neighbours for some time, but now the building is full. Every time she gets off the elevator, the new neighbours’ dogs start barking. Not one but two! What can she do?
A. Standard protocol involves first contacting the Condo Board. If this is a brand new building and the Board has not yet been established, contact the management company for the condo and give them a complaint in writing, detailing the times of day the dogs are barking and other particulars. It will then fall to the Board to notify the owners of that unit that a complaint has been received and outline what action must be taken. Should the situation persist, you can then contact the City of Ottawa (dial 311) with a noise complaint. Ultimately, if the owner does not resolve the problem, he or she may be fined.
Q. We have been condo shopping and noticed the condo in-house sales staff were very keen to process our sale quickly. We felt rushed and they would not hold the condo for us. We just need time to decide whether condo life is for us. What can we do?
A. It may be that staff don’t want you to be disappointed if there has been interest on a particular unit and, therefore, they will encourage you to act faster. Ontario’s Condominium Act protects all condo buyers purchasing new condos in various ways. One of these is that the buyer has the right to a 10-calendar day cooling-off period, starting from the day the buyer receives a copy of the signed Agreement of Purchase and Sale. If the buyer decides to opt out of this purchase, he or she will receive a refund of the deposit placed on the condo unit. Buyers can read more about this on Ontario.ca.
Q. Where can I buy a car condo? I am interested in storing my cars somewhere where I may have access when I want, and where I may work on them.
A. Car condos are an interesting solution for people – traditionally urban dwellers – who need extra space to store their vehicles. These condos are common in cities like New York and Toronto and are often leased or owned by car collectors and people who are simply looking to store their cars. Unfortunately, there are no car condos in Ottawa — yet. Car condos in other cities have ranged from man caves with stored Ferraris, bars and huge TVs to simple single spots. Until we have a developer build a car condo, I recommend one of the best storage spots for collector cars: Premium Vehicle Storage Ottawa, in Arnprior.
Q. We see a development going up downtown and I’d like to rent in there. How would I find a unit in that particular building?
A. As the building is under construction, it will be harder to find something for lease. Developers usually focus on sales instead of leasing (except in buildings specifically designed to house rental units). Sometimes investors buy and post their units for rent on MLS or elsewhere online after the condo is registered. Other times, the developer grants permission to owners to advertise their units for rent before the condo has been registered.
To get into a particular building, speak with a Realtor® and have a chat with the concierge, who may know more about a residents’ intentions.
Q. We are thinking of buying a condo, but want to ensure we will be able to get a mortgage. We want to start shopping – when should we reach out to the bank?
A. Condo mortgages work differently from housing mortgages in that you are pre-approved for a range of prices and condo fees. While you are shopping, your mortgage lender can get in touch with the builder and find out the anticipated condo fees for units you are interested in. It is important to keep in mind that if the fees increase dramatically at a later stage, your qualification may be affected. In a December 2015 Condo Scene column called Having a mortgage till death do us part I covered this topic further.
Q. We just purchased a unit in a new building, but as we were one of the last buyers, the finishes were already picked and installed upon purchase. We love to entertain and the kitchen finishes are not quite to our liking. We’d rather a 6-burner stove and a larger fridge and different surfaces and backsplash, but don’t want to invest if we won’t get our money out. What do you suggest?
A. In real estate terms you’re talking about the difference between value in exchange and value in use. Just because you spend a certain amount does not mean you will get it back when you resell. The new kitchen will be suited exactly to your taste and its value in use (the value the renovation has for you) may be higher than the value it will add to your property – or even the sum you paid for it. Invest in these kinds of changes only if you intend to live there for a long time and will not resent losing money at the point of sale. On the other hand, if done well, your upgrades may serve to differentiate your unit from others on the market when you go to sell. Remember what is trendy now may be look dated when you go to you sell. For each person the answer will depend on their circumstances and outlook.
As always, use your condo sense when approaching these and other questions and, when in doubt, send them to me; I love to receive reader questions!
Marilyn Wilson has been selling Ottawa real estate for more than 27 years and owns Marilyn Wilson Dream Properties Inc. Brokerage Christie’s International Real Estate. She can be reached through dreamproperties.com or follow her on Instagram @dreampropertiesrealestate
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