Condos

Condo Fees - What exactly am I paying for?

 The gym at 111 Champagne (SoHo Champagne) is a common element which is paid for by the monthly condo fee.

The gym at 111 Champagne (SoHo Champagne) is a common element which is paid for by the monthly condo fee.

A common question people ask is regarding the monthly condo fees and what exactly the fee is paying for. To start, the fee is to pay for your share of the building... or your share of the common expenses. 
Your share is decided based on your percentage of ownership in the building or square footage of the overall building. In a highrise, it can be as little as .3% (or even less), however in a small lowrise that percentage could much higher. This would also increase if you have a parking spot and locker. Keep in mind that (typically, in most buildings) balconies or terraces are not used to determine ownership - you don't pay for the square footage of your balcony or terrace. They are referred to as exclusive common elements. You don't own them like the condo unit, instead, you have exclusive rights to use them. 

Common expenses can include:
- garbage collection
- snow removal
- landscaping
- water charges
- electricity for the common elements (hallways, parking garages, etc)
- natural gas heating for the common elements
- natural gas heating for the boiler tanks that supply heating to the units
- building insurance
- professional property management
- audit, legal, and professional expenses (lawyer, accountant, etc.)
- the maintenance, repair, and replacement of the common element components (this is and can be a big one - since this includes the building structure, elevators, windows, etc.) this also includes the amenities and equipment (gym equipment, bbq, pool, etc.)
- the cost of borrowing money (if a repair is needed that can't be covered by the reserve fund, the Corporation needs to borrow money)
- any remuneration payable to employees (superintendent, security, concierge, etc).

Every year Ottawa condo owners receive a breakdown of the expenses, and how the monthly condo fee was allocated and is projected to be spent. It is easy to ignore the document as it is long and dry, but important to look over and pay attention to how the money is being spent. 

Often I explain it as living in a condo provides a luxury that is impossible to match in a residential house at the same price point. Underground heated parking, an elevator, a concierge, gym, party room, no landscaping such as snow removal or lawn cutting, and no taking out the trash - just send it down a chute. 

Have a question about condo living or buying a condo? Let's chat.

Where Does My Condo Start? What do I own?

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A common question is regarding the boundaries of the condo, where exactly does it start? What exactly do you own, versus what is a common element? The answer is simple - check your status certificate. The main reason is that every single building is different and each building will have a different definition.

That said let's give you a better answer - let's take a closer look at the status certificate for The Galleria Phase 2 (238 Besserer) which will be fairly similar for those in a recently built highrise. Again, don't assume this is what is used by your building, check your own status certificate.

For the residential condo, the status describes the
- horizontal lower (floor) boundary as the upper unfinished surface of the concrete floor slab,
- horizontal upper (ceiling) boundary as the lower unfinished surface of the concrete slab above the unit.
It is explained using the concrete (rather than the drywall) since many buildings don't have finished ceilings!

Now for the vertical boundaries, 
- The backside surface of the drywall on the exterior walls of each unit,
- In the vicinity of the structural walls and columns, (which shall not form part of the unit), the backside surface of the drywall that surrounds such walls and columns,
- In the vicinity of pipe and duct chases, (which shall not form part of the unit), the backside surface of the drywall surrounding such chases,

What about windows and exterior doors??
- In the vicinity of the windows and exterior doors, the unfinished interior surface of the windows and doors in closed position, the inner or unit side surface of the glass contained therein, and the unfinished interior surface of the window and door frames. 

Fireplace?
- the portion of the fireplace and flue lying within the unit boundaries described above shall form part of the unit.

To sum it up, in 238 Besserer and in many similar buildings you own the drywall and in. BUT always check your own status certificate!

Questions about your condo? Let's chat!

Top Condo Renovations for Maximum Return

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A common question that I am asked is regarding which renovations will bring the best return when looking to sell an Ottawa condo or loft. Typically my answer can be very specific to the unit, however, there are some general ideas that you should start with.

1. Painting. Without a question, one of the most common things that is suggested to a client is a fresh coat of paint on the walls and trim work. Sometimes there are hairline cracks in the ceiling or scuff marks on the trim, and for the cost, it is the typically the best thing you can do to prep the condo for sale. A nice light grey goes a LONG way!

2. Kitchen. While not usually the cheapest option, more units around the city are starting to have slightly dated cabinets and counters. While replacing the counters is (essentially) an easy task, replacing the cabinets is a serious overhaul and a lot of work. However, depending on the unit and the cost it can make a HUGE difference in the unit. Remeber that a condo doesn't have numerous rooms or places to spend money - so having the main room look its best does a lot for sale price.

2.5 Parts of the kitchen. Even replacing the handles or painting the cabinets will give a fresh and serious change to the space. You don't always need to spend a boatload of cash to get results. 

3. Flooring. One of the first things most buyers notice when they walk into a unit is the quality of the flooring and the shape that it is in. Do you have carpet? Has the dog put deep scratches all over? Shoe or furniture imprints throughout the unit? These are a huge turn off for most buyers. Resist the urge to throw down low-cost laminate flooring, as it doesn't last. However every unit and budget is different.

4. Bathroom. Similar to the kitchen, there are not many rooms to spend money in a small condo. However, a new cabinet, mirror, or sometimes even just a shower curtain will go a long way in revamping the feel of the en-suite bathroom and can cost a lot less then in the kitchen. Some "modern" buildings from the 2003-2005 era have a very "interesting" yellow mustard tile - again, a huge turnoff for buyers.

5. Closet System. One of the first things we did in our condo was to remove the current standard "builder" closet and replace it with a closet system. This allowed us to fit two to almost three times the amount in the same space. It completely changed the way we were able to use the space and in a condo, every inch counts. There are numerous options available from DIY at Homedepot or Lowes, to custom built options! 

6. CLEAN. Yes, it isn't exactly a renovation, but you would be surprised by the number of people who don't DEEP clean, or even just clean period before putting their unit up on the market. A buyer wants to feel like they can live there and they want to feel that YOU love living there. If you don't take care of the space it subconsciously tells them that you don't like it and that they won't either. Go crazy with the cleaning - it will pay for itself!

While every unit is different, these are typically what I seem to mention when a client is asking what the can do in order to increase the value for selling. Want to chat about your unit specifically or just get more information about selling your condo? I would love to chat and answer any questions that you have.

Ottawa Condo Market Stats for January 2018

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Let's take a quick look at the numbers for the Ottawa condo market for January 2018 and how they stack up. ** Note: All data is provided by the Ottawa Real Estate Board. Condo data includes all condominium property styles.**

- There were 406 new condo listings to come on the market in January 2018, a decrease compared to January 2017 which saw 472.

- The average condo sale price was $263,744, a decrease from January 2017 by 8.6%

- There were 173 sales, an increase of 45% over January 2017 which only had 119

- 55% of the sales were priced between $150,000 and $249,999

- Active listings at the end of January 2018 compared to end of January 2017 saw a decrease of 27.2%... meaning there were 27.2% less available units at the end of January this year than last year. 

While we saw the average price decrease, it was mainly due to a lack of sales in the higher price point and more sales in the lower range. At the same time, we saw an increase in sales overall which leads to a lack of supply compared to the same time last year. Bottom line .... This is setting up for a crazier market this spring!

If you are thinking of selling, this is the time to get things started and listed. Less competition means a hungrier buyer! Email or call and we can chat about options and your specific unit.

2018 Ottawa Condo Market - Predictions

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Last year I suggested that if you were to ask ten strangers about the Ottawa condo market you would likely get a pretty constant message that the market wasn't very pretty. Keep in mind it has been a rough number of years since things were booming. However, if you were to ask another ten people this year, I would say the message is going to be quite confusing. 

Since the 2017 Market report, things have certainly increased and we are seeing the condo market pick up. There are fewer listings and fewer DOM (days on market) than in past years. Buildings that had high numbers of listings, only have a couple (if that). The question could be asked if this is due to less supply of units or seller's pricing more realistically and selling. We are constantly seeing multiple offers on condos - again, is it due to lack of supply or more accurate pricing, or both? While the market is not red hot it is certainly better than in previous years. 

All of this while the government is placing more rules and regulations to calm the markets in large urban centers (Toronto etc.). While it will still be interesting to see how the most recent mortgage changes will affect the market - it is too early to tell but most anlysts are agreeing it will have little to no impact on the market especially in Ottawa.

CMHC is predicting that housing starts (new construction) in Ottawa will decline over 2018 and 2019 caused by a drop in apartment (condominium) starts (not freehold housing). This will continue to strengthen the demand for resale or existing homes, especially due to Ottawa's relative affordability. This affordability factor will also help to push up the price of Ottawa resale properties.

What to expect for the 2018 Ottawa condo market?
- A positive condo market. Slightly improved over the 2017 market but not as large of a change as was expected. This means much more balanced, or slightly more in favour of the seller. 

- Slightly increased sales numbers to last year with a modest increase in price. Building off of 2017 and continuing to see growth.

- More units sold to buyers located outside of Ottawa. Parents purchasing for kids while at school,  investors from Toronto, etc. Ottawa has a huge leg up in comparison to other cities when it comes to affordability. We will see more units purchased as investments since the "Ottawa real estate dollar" goes further. Add in the relatively slow and constant growth, it is seen as a safer investment than Toronto or Vancouver. 

- Tighter regulations in condo buildings for short-term accommodations (Airbnb) and more freehold units converted to supply the demand. There is a lot of money in short term rentals, and there is no shortage of people looking for it. 

- First-time buyers using more family money/credit. Borrowing from the bank of mom and dad will be more popular due to the changes in mortgage requirements. As well as parents being on title - to increase the ability for the child to qualify.

- Little impact from the Mortgage Stress Test. Due to Ottawa's lower average price point, the mortgage stress test will affect fewer buyers than in larger urban centers where the average price is much higher.

- More demand for units closer to downtown. The city of Ottawa has a huge push to calm traffic. This includes removing secondary lanes, increasing "no right turn on reds", increasing the number of bike lanes, advanced pedestrian walk at lights, etc. The goal is to make the streets safer - which is great. However, this is going to see an increase in the time it takes to get to and from work. This will also push commercial development in areas outside of downtown. 

- Messy period around marijuana regulations with landlords/tenants and condo boards. As well, what constitutes a grow-op and personal use with regards to disclosure when selling.

Thoughts? It is going to be an interesting year and I am looking forward to it! Bring it on.

Agree/disagree? Tell me below.

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Top Hard Loft Buildings in Ottawa

Top hard lofts in Ottawa For Sale

Looking for a real loft in Ottawa? That exposed brick, rough and open concept type feeling? While it is hard to find in Ottawa when compared to other cities, here is a list of buildings to put on your watch list.

The Wallis House at 589 Rideau Street

Studio Argyle - 255 Argyle Street - Located in Centretown, the building was redesigned by Domicile in 2000, and consists of 40 units over 4 floors.

Wallis House - 589 Rideau Street - Located in Lower Town, the first building was originally built in 1851 and used as a Catholic hospital, among other uses. Eventually, it was purchased by L.A. Sandy Smallwood in 1994 and converted into 47 lofts. All units were pre-sold in less than 24 hours - and this was before the condo craze.

School House Square - 24 Springfield Road

Laura Secord Factory - 120 Holland Ave - Located in Wellington Village, this building features massive units and are hard to find on the market. Originally built in 1956, the building was converted to lofts in 1998. The building got its name from Laura Secord company who was once a tenant.

Lofts Du Monfort - 297 Dupuis Street - Located in Vanier, the building was originally built in 1912 as "Monfort School". Renovated in 1998 by Nicolini Construction, there are only 15 units making it hard to find one for sale. 

School House Square at 24 Springfield

School House Square - 24 Springfield Road - Located in New Edinburgh, the building was originally a french catholic school "Ecole St Charles" that was built in 1910. Converted to lofts in 1997 by Domicile.

School House Lofts - 19 Melrose Avenue - Located in Hintonburg, the building was originally built in 1912. It was also a french catholic school "Ecole Sacre-Coeur". Turned into 11 lofts and 12 stacked townhomes in 2009.

Parkdale Market Lofts - 320 Parkdale

Parkdale Market Lofts - 45 Spencer and 320 Parkdale - Located in Hintonburg it was originally built as a factory and then turned into lofts in 2005. Both buildings are unique as they each have their own differences.

The Warehouse Lofts - 95 Beech - Located in Little Italy, M.J. Obrien built a factory to house a mica factory and a railroad contractor. Converted to lofts in 2000 by Craig Callan Jones.

Looking for a hard loft in Ottawa? Let's chat. I would love to help you out.

2017 Ottawa Condo Market - Predictions

2017 Ottawa Condo Market

If you ask ten strangers about the Ottawa condo market right now, you are likely to get a pretty general idea of how things are currently going. Not great, slow, crap, etc. Unlike it's sister market - freehold homes are selling quite well and are still breaking monthly sales numbers. Condo's on the other hand, are not so hot. Let's take a quick look back and then see where things are possibly headed.

The condo market has been in this "slump" since 2012 when supply/demand started catching up. We started noticing the number of listings and DOM (days on market) increasing, and fewer multiple offers etc. Over the last few years, the conversation when sitting down with someone looking to sell is often about how to loose as little as possible, or even how to break even. Now keep in mind there are a few factors in play here. Most of these people bought in 2009-2013 (or earlier) and expected the market to keep going the path that it was. At that time, who cared if the view was horrible, upgrades were slim, or they over paid.... it would still be worth more when they sold. As well, many times the condo that was purchased does not fit their current lifestyle (partner/pet/baby/clothes addiction), and after only a few years they are looking to sell. That person has not stayed in the unit long enough to really see the value rise. 

Where are we right now? Well in 2016, the number of unsold units dropped by almost a fourth from November to February (529 vs 699). Builder condo starts (number of permits etc.) from the first 11 months of 2016 were 583. Down from 776 for the same period in 2015, and down significantly from 1301 in the same 11 month stretch in 2014. Less builder starts mean less supply and allows everything to even out (typically 2-3 years). Right now, we still have buildings on the way but more builders are focusing on the hot rental market. Switching poor selling or upcoming projects to rental buildings. Housing affordability really hasn't changed - its still an issue overall, however new first-time buyer credits and low-interest rates still make purchasing attractive (if you can afford it). 

Is the market right now really that bad? The fall market saw numerous multiple offers... (yes, you read that correct), and short days on market (3-4 days, 7 days etc). We had this first hand and couldn't believe it. One of my Centretown listings in the fall had multiple offers (five in fact!) and the property sold over list price. So, no... the condo market in Ottawa is certainly not horrible. It just depends on numbers and who you're talking to.

What should we expect for 2017? Based on the numbers and market, I expect a better condo market overall for 2017. Not a crazy difference, but it will feel better or more positive than 2014/2015/2016, leading the way for a larger change in 2018. 
- A positive condo market.
- Similar sales numbers, but with a modest 1-3% increase in price.
- Sellers spending more to prepare the unit before selling. Painting, decluttering, even staging. All in an effort to maximize the value and shorten the time it takes to sell.
- Fewer high rise condos selling for investment. The 2015/2016 built condo's are all seeing the condo fee rise and the numbers are harder and harder to make work. However you will still see it, being more hands-off and easier to handle makes them perfect for out of city owners, or new first time investors.
- No units purchased for airbnb. This will move to centrally located freehold housing with less rules and restrictions. If a building didn't restrict short term rentals in 2016, it will in 2017.
 - Buyers will spend more time to decide before making a purchase. There is more information and reviews online about buildings and the builder. Buyers will (or should - see below) look closer at the building and unit before they place an offer.
- First-time buyers looking at slightly larger units. Even if that means waiting to afford them. They will learn from the mistakes of those selling now.

Keep in mind there is a lot going on with respect to United States, which could impact all of this. These are my perdictions. Thoughts?

Underground Condo Parking In Ottawa

As I write this, the weather channel is predicting almost 24 hours of straight snowfall with 25-35cm of snow. Last week we had the record 52 cm which fell in just over a 24 hour period. Yuck. This is that time of year when those who have underground heated parking are very happy - just jump into a warm car, with no snow to remove, or ice to scrape off.  

Underground Parking Ottawa Condo

The Basics

Most apartment style condo buildings have at least one level of underground parking in Ottawa while typically town house or up/down split style condos, have outdoor surface parking spots. The number of spots each developer must build will mostly depend on the zoning. Most spots are a standard width, and can fit a standard car (but not all buildings are the same - more on this later).

The parking garage typically has access to the main elevators (older buildings might have a separate elevator), along with some of the storage locker rooms and bicycle rooms or area. They typically are heated and ventilated. 

The Cost

When looking at pre-construction the price of a parking spot will first depend on the type of condominium (townhouse or highrise). For example - Valecraft Homes is including one outdoor parking spot for free with the unit purchase at Woodroffe Lofts and a second spot can be purchased for $10,000. Compared to Claridge who is offering an underground parking spot at an additional cost of $35,000 per space at Claridge Icon. 

Next, the cost might rise depending on location within the parking garage. Some builders will offer the premium spaces on level 1 for $5-15,000 more per space - on top of the $35,000. Not every builder does this, some save the premium spots for the large or penthouse units.

Keep in mind, there is also a monthly cost in addition to the purchase price. Since your percentage of ownership goes up in the building, your condo fees will rise as well. Some pre-construction buildings will project an additional $35-45 per month, while parking spots in some re-sale buildings can add $60-90 per month to your condo fee.

While no developer will share the true cost to build a spot, we have always been told it was more than they typically charged, up to almost double to cost - depending on how many levels below ground they need to go. Obviously outdoor surface spots will be a fraction of the cost, since there is less involved in the construction. Zoning requires a certain amount of spots be built per unit. It can range from 0.5 to 0.7 parking spots per unit - or more further outside the downtown core.

Restrictions

Keep in mind that not every unit is able to purchase parking when buying pre-construction.  Since the builder will build as few spots as possible, they will restrict which units can or can not purchase a spot. Typically this restriction falls on the smallest units. Assuming that the smaller unit is less likely to have a vehicle, compared to the large units with multiple residents who might require two etc.  Most builders will have a list for when larger units opt out of the spot, to allow the smaller unit owners the chance to purchase. However, when the building is handed over to the owners, you are then able to purchase a spot from another owner. 

Differences

Parking Garage Condo Ottawa

Obviously not every building is the same, and often these differences can be found underground. Some buildings include visitor parking - The East Market (180 York, 383 Cumberland, 179 George) shares 23 overnight or long term visitor parking spots and 12 short term spots. Builders started including spots for car share services such as VRTUCAR which allows the owner to have 24 hour access to a shared vehicle - without the cost of gas, insurance, and maintenance. Great if you walk to work and never use your car. If you are willing to spend extra, you can even find Valet parking! Windmill's The Eddy features "puzzle parking" system which mechanically parks your car for you. This allows the developer to have more spaces and lower the overall cost. 

No parking space is the same, some have posts or walls on each side, some have plumbing or ventilation equipmenthanging down. This is why it is important to choose your spot carefully, or atleast see it in person if possible. Many owners with larger vehicles (pickup truck or large SUV's) need to make sure they can even enter the garage! Always check it out!

Buying and Selling Parking

While not every building is the same (consult your lawyer), typically each unit (condo, locker, and parking) are all separate. Each one has a separate Property Information Number or PIN which allows you to buy and sell them / they are not fixed to that certain condo. We regularly will list parking spots and even lockers apart from the condo unit on the MLS. Depending on the building, the unit, and the selling strategy. Since it is re-sale, the price is negotiable - however remember that you can't just add the cost on your mortgage, you would need to pay cash. Typically we see spots selling for $24-35,000 depending on the building, location of the spot, and demand for parking. Lockers will typically sell anywhere from $4-7,000 per. 

That small square painted on the ground - Its never just as simple as it might seem. 

Questions about parking? Thinking of buying pre-construction or a condo in Ottawa? I would love to help you out. 

What's in my condo's concrete floor?

 Construction Photo from Richcraft of the 16th Floor of The Bowery on January 28th!

Construction Photo from Richcraft of the 16th Floor of The Bowery on January 28th!

Often it is easy to forget how much work is involved in the construction of a building, and how exactly the buildings are built. Here is a quick example of the construction process for the concrete slabs (or floor) of a concrete highrise condominium. These are all from The Bowery and give you a great sense of what could be in your floor and ceiling.

The main "squares" or woven material is the steel rebar or rod's which provide the strength and woven together throughout every area. Once that is complete all of the tubing and conduits are run for each unit. The red is hot water, blue is cold water, and the grey is electrical along with "other" cables such as fire, audio/visual etc. Some builders run extra to different rooms since it is nearly impossible after the concrete is set.

The rebar (steel rod's) sticking up are to connect vertical concrete walls and columns that support the floor above. The photo below, shows a finished slab that is curing (drying). It gives you a better idea of a more finished product - you can see the vertical rebar for support columns/walls, and the plumbing and other conduits.

Fact - Most concrete subfloors are between 7-10 inches thick, which doesn't include any flooring or subflooring - just the concrete! 

Do I Need A Concierge In My Condo Building?

One of the first impressions that you will have as a buyer is often when you enter the lobby and are greeted by the concierge. Big smile and a friendly "hello" go a long way. However not all condo buildings in Ottawa have someone sitting in the lobby. In fact there are only a couple buildings in Ottawa that have a true concierge. Those buildings that have someone in the lobby, typically employ security guards who also handle resident requests (move-in's, packages, etc.).

Up until recently, having someone at the front lobby was a big bonus for a number of reasons: 
- Ensure security, and are able to see who is coming and going, plus keep an eye on the common area's.
- Handle move-ins and elevator/loading areas.
- Pass keys or assist with entry for cleaners or repair persons. 
- Booking or reserving common area's.
- Receive packages and oversized mail/deliveries. 

The biggest one for me aside from providing the extra bit of security, was helping receive packages and deliveries. Online shopping is on the rise and having to track down a parcel after it has been "attempted" to be delivered is a huge pain. 

Ottawa Condo Canada Post Parcel Box

Enter Canada Post!

The photo on the right is in the lobby for 205 Bolton (Sussex Square) which is one of the downtown buildings that you will find the Canada Post Parcel Box. This now allows them to securely leave oversized boxes and packages, without making you head to the nearest pickup location! 

The mail person leaves a notice in your mailbox along with the key for the specific box that contains your package. Then once retrieved just drop the key back in the slot, and voila!

Obviously, the parcel box does not say Hi, or it wont hold the door when you have your hands full, but it's a start! You can find the boxes in a number of buildings across Ottawa, typically next to the mail room.

As a buyer, do you feel that you need a concierge? 

Truth about Barbecues on Condo Balconies in Ottawa

Ottawa Condo BBQ Allowed

The one thing I can count on when showing units, is being asked if the building allows owners/renters to operate a barbecue on the balcony. Usually here in Ottawa, the answer is no. With about 90% of the high rise buildings across the city having a rule, bylaw, or ban, on non electric BBQ's.

Most clients, owners in the building, and believe it or not, even other professionals, believe that it is the city or the builder that has created a by-law against it. People have suggested to me that it is because of the smoke from the barbecue, and how it would draft into another unit, or that the architect didn't follow local building code. I have heard many different "ideas" as to why, but the true reason is actually quite simple. And no, there is not a municipal bylaw that restricts the use of barbeques on balconies here in the city of Ottawa.

Here is an example from 200 Besserer Rules and Regulations (note this would only permit electric barbecues on PH unit terraces and balconies):

5. (d) No barbecues may be operated on any part of the common elements, including any part designated to be for exclusive use of a unit owner, including balconies, terraces and patios except for electric barbecues on the balconies attached to each dwelling unit on the upper penthouse floor in the building.

Here is an example from the 234 Rideau "Welcome Book":

- Barbecues on balconies must be electric.
- Charcoal and Propane BBQ's are prohibited.

Typically they are not allowed, because the TSSA or Technical Standards and Safety Authority has set rules in place that the condo corporation cant properly enforce. This means that for the condo board, its easier to lay a blanket rule than risk having the rule broken and being fined. 

Which rule?

  • propane cylinders are to be transported in a service elevator or, when there are no service elevators, the person must use the passenger elevator alone to transport the cylinder

How to get around it?

A few builders have listened, and have made BBQ's available on the balconies. To get around the by-laws, they install natural gas lines to the stoves and to the balconies. Some charge a few thousand extra for the upgrade, but something I would gladly pay. Other options are having an electric BBQ or by having a shared natural BBQ in a common area.

At the end of the day, if having a barbecue on your balcony is important to you, tell your lawyer to look into the status certificate and find out if they are allowed. Looking for a condo and want to make sure it has a BBQ? Lets chat, I would love to help out.

The Deposit - What, When, and How Much?

Question: What is the deposit? How much do I need for a deposit when buying a condo in Ottawa? When do I need to provide it?

Keep in mind, this is for a resale condominium in Ottawa. If you are looking for pre-construction deposit information - CLICK HERE. Also, this is not referring to your downpayment - sometimes first time buyers will get these two terms mixed up.

What is the deposit? The deposit is an amount negotiated in the Agreement of Purchase and Sale that binds the buyer to the contract, and acts as consideration for the deal. (Consideration is the legal term for the deposit, and without consideration the contract is non-binding in common law). The deposit is thought of to be as "a sign of good faith", which keeps the buyer from walking away from the deal at any time, and provide the rest of the funds to close on closing day. It can show a seller who is considering an offer, that the buyer has cash on hand, and is willing to tie it up until close.

How much do I need? The deposit amount varies per property/deal/market. Here in Ottawa, you can expect anywhere from one percent of the sale price and up. Typically there is not much weight behind having a larger deposit for the buyer, however during multiple offer scenarios the higher deposit amount can help. Often for properties in the downtown core, you will see $3,000 to $5,000 for a deposit amount on a $250,000 to $350,000 purchase. Keep in mind, outside of the city it is typical to see deposit amounts of $1,000 or even $500 on the same purchase price. Head over to Toronto, and you can expect FIVE percent of the purchase price! 

When do I need to provide the deposit? When the Agreement of Purchase and Sale is written, typically we use the "upon acceptance" wording in regards to time to provide the deposit cheque to the other agent. This means the buyer has to provide a cheque (can be personal, certified, or bank draft, wire transfer, etc) for the funds within 24 hours of acceptance. This is standard, however it can be written differently depending on the scenario.

What happens to the deposit funds? Once we provide the cheque to the other side, it gets deposited in the seller's real estate brokerages trust account (unless otherwise specified) and is held until closing when the seller's lawyer will direct the brokerage with use of the funds (typically to pay commissions).

What happens to the deposit if the deal does not come together? Many people seem to think that if the seller walks away from a deal, then the seller automatically gets to keep the deposit money. This is far from the truth! Under section 27 of the Real Estate Business Brokers Act, a real estate brokerage is not allowed to release any deposit from their trust account without either a Mutual release signed by both the buyer AND seller, or a court order. So if the buyer walks away, the money remains in trust and litigation will commence until an agreement is made.

Thinking of buying your first property? I would love to chat and answer any questions that you have about real estate here in Ottawa. Fill out the form below!

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Condo Selling - 10 Tips For Selling Your Ottawa Condo

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My top 10 tips for selling your Ottawa condo

Preparing your condo for sale should be done іn a prearranged and structured manner. Here are my top 10 ways to do so, in no particular order, as some might be more or equally important to your situation.

1: DE-CLUTTER - First and foremost. Creating the illusion of more space is a magical thing. An impression of a cluttered, messy space is certainly not. An open, inviting space is and will be more accepted than a messy, bogged down one. Put stuff away! This includes everything from remote controls, to laundry, to dishes, to movies, and video games. Also, some people think they can just toss everything into their closets as a quick fix. NOPE! If it seems like your closets are jam packed and ready to explode, the potential buyer will come up with an image of their belongings not fitting either. The main word would be purge. If you haven't worn it in a year, you don't need it. This is especially true for here in Ottawa where we have such different seasons, it helps to completely remove the off season items that are not needed. Summer shoes or winter boots, coats, hats, mits etc. This will really help free up some space!

2: DE-PERSONALIZE - Yes, everyone is impressed with your gleaming certificates plastered all over the walls, but when you're trying to sell, lose them. This goes for personal/family pictures, religious objects and so on. Potential buyers are already trying to get in the picture mindset of living there, so try and make it as easy as possible for this to occur. Someone might not like your property because of your tastes, beliefs or opinions, believe me - I have seen stranger things happen. Slowly comb through your condo and try to eliminate anything that is overly characteristic or personal.

3: AROMA - I'm sure you've read loads of articles and tips about baking cookies before an open house or showing. That is great, but do not over do it too much. Granted fresh cookies and febreeze does smell better than an avoided bathroom and four day old dishes, but we don't want the smell to be too overpowering upon entering. Remember, there are people with all kinds of allergies. Consider investing in a couple of soft tone glade plug-ins or candles. A nice, soothing, calm and continuous aroma will ease the minds of buyers and assist them in sticking around for a while.

4: FІRЅТ IMPRESSIONS - I figured I would follow aroma with this category. A great first impression is crucial in captivating a buyers interest. From a large reflective mirror, to a stunning piece of art, to a simple and open clear sight line of the view, use what you can to create a quick wow factor. This of where your eyes would shift upon entrance. Work on overselling the first impression and the buyers will be craving the full, interrupted tour. But remember, first impressions do start before actually entering the condo. Make sure your property management company is on the ball with providing a clean, inviting atmosphere.

5: STAGING - Vacant condo? If you are sitting on a vacant Ottawa condo, staging is something to think about. There is nothing more bland and unappealing than a lonely, vacant condo. Consider hiring a staging consultant to walk through the house. Remember, staging creates a lifestyle and existence that buyers crave and ultimately desire. For a fairly affordable monthly cost you could have an exquisite looking suite and really push for an offer. Staged condos do statistically sell faster than vacant suites so check out your options and use your resources. 

6: COLOR/TONES - Tone down the color. Eliminate any strong, dark, or personalized walls. You might like the bright red feature wall in the living area, but it will scare away a potential buyer. Dark colors actually squeeze the visibility out of the space and make it appear smaller. The key word is neutral. If you have to hire someone to come in and repaint the majority of your space, it will be worth it. Try a cool, modern and refreshing colour to liven up the area but consider how it will look with your accessories, art, etc. Don't go out and break the bank finding something nice that you adore, as the new buyer might have plans to paint over it again once they move in. Be resourceful yet practical.

7: AMBIANCE - Create an atmosphere that revolves around your target market. Part of our marketing is to walk through potential buyers and this will help when you are trying to style your condo. Create аn atmosphere that revolves аrоund уоur target market. Plug іn thе calming water fountain, flick оn thе fireplace and hit play on thе stereo. Remember whо уоu аrе trуіng tо sell tо thоugh. Fоr а stylish, urban condo set thе mood wіth sоmе upbeat house music. Fоr а quaint, large space utilize thе fireplace аs а relaxing focal point. Usе уоur discretion аnd channel thе energy оf thе space intelligently. Generate а fitting mood аnd еvеrуоnе will feel pleasant аnd аt hоmе whіlе viewing.

8: FOOD/TREATS - Wаnt people tо stick аrоund fоr longer? Graciously leave а snack tray оr sоmе sort оf offering fоr thе individual(s) interested іn уоur hоmе. Bottled water іs а great touch аnd а personal favorite. Тhеу mіght sее 3-5 properties thаt day, but thаt water shоuld lаst fоr а whіlе, аnd thеу will remember thаt іt wаs frоm уоu! Cookies, mints, gum, wrapped chocolate, еtс... аnуthіng аlоng thеsе lines іs а nice, thoughtful touch. Rеаllу wаnt thе wow factor? Gеt creative аnd consider sоmеthіng lіkе а catered open house!

9: SANS SMOKE/PETS - Тhіs category mау nоt apply tо еvеrуоnе, but іt іs tremendously іmроrtаnt tо сеrtаіn households. Іf уоu smoke, tаkе іt outside...and nоt lean оut thе window type оutsіdе, аll thе wау. Smoke іs sоmеthіng thаt ultimately lives іn уоur walls аnd will constantly bе lurking аrоund. Buyers definitely dо nоt wаnt thіs. Buyers wаnt tо thіnk thіs hоmе іs thеіr fresh start, nоt а second hand ashtray. Іf роssіblе, pets shоuld bе removed fоr showings аnd аlwауs fоr open houses. Аs buyers, thе lаst thing wе wаnt tо sее аrе stains оn thе carpet, pet hair, and/or а big litter box staring bасk аt us. Yоur pet іs а member оf thе family...remove thеm fоr showings аnd сеrtаіnlу clean uр аftеr thеm. Тhе main thing hеrе іs thаt уоu dо nоt wаnt а questionable issue іn thе bасk оf thе buyer's minds.

10: FENG SHUI - Аn intriguing ancient Chinese art form developed mаnу years ago. Feng Shui іs а knowledge whісh reveals hоw tо balance energies іn а space tо bring health, positivity аnd good fortune fоr thе individuals living thеrе. Тhеrе аrе nіnе quadrants thаt define dіffеrеnt areas іn уоur hоmе аnd life. Іf you're lооkіng fоr mоrе money, work оn уоur prosperity corner. Іf you're lооkіng tо improve уоur relationships thеn work оn altering thаt corner. Тhе list gоеs оn. Ву accepting Feng Shui іntо уоur life аt hоmе, уоu will create а natural flow аnd energy іntо аnу space. Еvеr hаd а good оr bad feeling uроn entering а property? Тhіs mау bе whу! Еvеn іf you're nоt selling, trу dіffеrеnt aspects оf Fung Shui іn уоur personal life...the rеsults соuld astonish you!

Thinking of making a move? I would love to help... Click on the button and lets start talking.


Written by Matt Richling

Matt is a licensed salesperson at RE/MAX Metro City Realty in Ottawa, Canada. Matt loves helping sellers and buyers find the perfect home that fits their lifestyle. 

Electronic Signatures Starting July 1st!

Electronic Signatures Starting July 1st Real Estate Ontario

Word starting circulating late last night amongst the realtor crowd across Ontario that the wait for electronic signatures is finally over! After years of being told that electronic signatures were "coming soon" by different levels of government, starting July 1st we will be able to sign The Agreement Of Purchase And Sale (the main document to sell a property) digitally. No more scanning, no more driving around at a late hour or rushing for a last minute signature, no more faxing (well that was a given), no impossible to read documents from sending back and forth. 

I have been using electronic signatures for other documents (listing agreements, price reductions, etc) but now the full transaction could be signed digitally. Almost every client who has used this, prefers it. Saving the client time, and ensures no missed signatures or initials. As the client, you can read, review, and sign the document at your pace.

Real Estate 2.0 is here!

SoBa Ottawa - Live Stream of Construction Progress

**For updated information about SoBa Condos, check out the dedicated section with regularly updated construction and sales information. CLICK HERE to view.**

Soba Condos Ottawa Livestream Construction

For those unable to drive by to see the progress of the construction at SoBa on Catherine Street, Jimmy Joners currently has set up a live stream of the site. 

Questions about SoBA or Lamb Development? I would love to help get you an answer.

Selling Downtown Lifestyle - Candlelight Yoga

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In an attempt to show just how relaxing a space can be, we held a candlelight yoga session at dusk inside the sub penthouse listing inside Mondrian. It was such a great experience and helped us bring more attention to this beautiful Ottawa Condo. We focus on selling lifestyle, but more specifically the lifestyle that a person would have by living in that building, or that unit.

Want to chat about selling your space? I would love to help, contact Matt.

When Do I Have To Pay The Deposit?

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Question: When do I have to pay the deposit when I am purchasing a pre-construction condo through the developer?

Every condominium project in Ottawa will have a different deposit structure, however the typical deposit required is 20% paid in four instalments.

Example based on a $350,000 purchase price:

At time of signing - $5,000 
30 days from signing - Balance up to 5% - $12,500
90 days from signing - Another 5% - $17,500
180 days from signing - Another 5% - $17,500
Occupancy - Another 5% - $17,500

Total paid is the 20% deposit which (based on $350,000 purchase price) is $70,000.

Keep in mind that every condo development is different, and the deposit structure even might change from initial launch to nearing completion. Builders typically require higher deposits at the beginning of a project, as the bank that is financing the building will have set out requirements in order to start construction. As the project gets underway, the developer typically has more room to negotiate amounts and dates, with extensions or even reducing the amounts. 

Have a question about deposits or purchasing a pre construction condo here in Ottawa? I would love to chat!

What Is The Ten Day Cooling Off Period?

pre construction cooling off period Ottawa

As per the Ontario Condominium Act, each developer has certain restrictions and rules to follow that are in place protect you, the consumer. When you buy a newly-built condo direct from the developer, you have the right to cancel the purchase within a 10 calendar day cooling-off period. This was put in place so when on launch day you get all caught up in the hype and excitement, you are still able to make sure you don't have any buyers remorse. Just remember that there is no cooling off period on re-sale condominiums.

Things to be aware of:
- The clock on the 10 day period starts from the time you receive a copy of the fully signed purchase and sale agreement OR the disclosure statement, which ever comes later.
- You also have the right to cancel a sales agreement within 10 days after any "material change" (significant change) to the disclosure statement.
- If you decide to cancel, the developer must refund any deposit plus any interest that may be payable.
- A developer is not able to terminate your purchase and sale agreement without your consent or a court order.

During the 10 day cooling off period we highly suggest that you:
- Have your lawyer to review the agreement and discuss any concerns that you might have about the purchase or the agreement. This is the time to request any changes to the agreement, not once the cooling off period is over.
- Speak to your mortgage broker and ensure you are pre-approved for the purchase. Keep in mind the closing date and get in writing that they are able to do a rate hold till your closing. Not all mortgage brokers and banks are able to do long rate holds for pre-construction condos in Ottawa.

More questions? I would love to help you find the answer! Contact Matt.

Genworth's Metropolitan Condo Outlook - Winter 2015

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Genworth and the Conference Board of Canada has released the 2015 winter edition of its apartment condominium study that looks at eight metropolitan areas, including Ottawa.

For the full report and in depth look into Ottawa and the other areas, click here.

"Although inventories remained high in 2014, Ottawa apartment building permits nearly doubled during the six months to December 2014 compared with their year-earlier levels. As a result, the new apartment condominium market is set to pick up again in 2015, with starts forecast to increase by 9.9 per cent. In fact, construction is already under way on a number of new buildings this year, including The Bowery condominiums and Claridge’s Icon condominiums in Little Italy. The Icon condominium building will be Ottawa’s tallest. But this title may not last long. A new development proposed by Richcraft Homes, also in the Little Italy neighbourhood, would see the construction of three new towers, the biggest of which would be 55 storeys tall. Starts are expected to keep rising from 2016 to 2019, growing by a forecast average of 1.2 per cent per year. Absorptions are set to decline this year and next, albeit from a 2014 record high, and then begin to rise through the next few years, helping to whittle down inventories." - taken from the report.

Gotham Showcases Modern Industrial In Four Models - Ottawa Citizen

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The Ottawa Citizen looks at the four models that are opening to the public tomorrow March 14th, inside the Gotham Condos. Of the 240 units in the building, only 40 suites remain, with pricing starting at $262,900 up to $451,900. Built by Lamb Development, the building is starting occupancy March 24th, 2015. Questions about Gotham? I would love to help.


Gotham Showcases Modern Industrual In Four Models
Patrick Langston - Ottawa Citizen
March 13, 2015 

Condo buyers anxious for a taste of life at Lamb Development’s much-anticipated Gotham — a name that evokes robust images of both New York City and Batman — can do so Saturday when four model suites open to the public.

The models, ranging from 497 to 922 square feet, feature strong industrial accents such as exposed concrete as well as generous glazing and contemporary decor.

The 17-storey building of glass, steel and black brick towers over a mostly low-rise neighbourhood at the corner of Gloucester and Lyon streets.

The project has sold well since it launched four years ago: only 40 of its 240 units remain available, and the builder may keep some of those unsold condos as rentals. Penthouses and “glasshouses” (spectacular, glass-enclosed units) have all sold.

Construction was slowed by this winter’s extreme cold, but company president Brad Lamb says buyers are expected to take occupancy by March 24.

The remaining units will be sold four at a time, and there will always be a quartet of model suites for viewing. Lamb calls the approach a “patient” way of selling. Keeping your customers a little hungry is also a smart way of selling.

Available suites at the time of writing range from $262,900 to $451,900.

The model suites embody the company’s fondness for contemporary, industrial-tinged design, according to Lamb.

“We want to be edgier in all our units: we use exposed concrete; nine-foot ceilings, sometimes higher; modern, clean finishes. We don’t want anything historically oriented; it’s always to the future.”

Lamb says the models target Ottawa’s main condo market: young singles, young couples, the occasional 50-plus pair without children. 

“Our goal is to deliver in every market the best units in the middle-class range.”

The project will include seven condo townhomes with private patios and 20-foot-plus ceilings in the living/dining rooms. Five of the seven homes have sold.

The models

Loft 08/09: The one-bedroom, 497-square-foot unit may be the smallest of the four models but, like all the condos at Gotham, the shotgun-style layout captures some of the great outdoors thanks to the wall of glass in the living/dining/kitchen area. The expanse of glazing includes a patio door leading to the standard-issue balcony with its gas barbecue hookup.

The kitchen features stainless-steel appliances including a gas stove, and the sleek, white Euro-style cabinetry matches the quartz countertop. The finishes in the models are all standard features, says Lamb.

The bath and bedroom, the latter with three walls only and simply decorated to reduce clutter, sit between the entry and the main living area.

An exposed concrete wall runs the length of the model, which is priced at $262,900.

Loft 10: With both a den and a bedroom, this unit maxes out its modest 648 square feet.

The den, just off the entry, sets the contemporary tone with its exposed concrete wall, black-and-white photo of a manual typewriter, and a metal-and-glass floor lamp.

A round wooden table set with white candles and surrounded by wood and-blue fabric chairs lends warmth to the living area with its one concrete wall and ceiling that are Lamb standards.

The bedroom’s sliding, frosted-glass door would provide privacy if you had a guest sleeping on a pull-out couch in the adjacent living room.

This unit is $317,900.

Loft 11/12: Another bedroom-plus-den unit, but at 751 square feet, this one has extras such as a four-piece bath with access from both the bedroom and den.

The kitchen, which is just off the foyer, has an elegant feel thanks to the blend of charcoal grey cabinetry and white countertops.

“I think we build the most beautiful washrooms and kitchens in any market,” says Lamb. “They’re like art.”

The suite, which sells for $357,900, features dark wood flooring and striking furniture, like a metal and timber credenza.

Loft 07: At 922 square feet, this unit has room for a den, a bedroom large enough for a compact tub chair in one corner, a four-piece ensuite with an undermount sink, and, just off the foyer, a powder room.

Contemporary reigns in the living area with metal basket dining chairs, a gleaming white laminate credenza, and low-slung steel and fabric easy chairs.

The kitchen sports a large island with a double, undermount sink and contemporary fixtures. The backsplash is light grey subway tile.

The unit costs $451,900.

In the area

It’s a short walk to everything from Bank Street’s restaurants and stores to parks like the one overlooking the National Library of Canada. For those with a green thumb, there are a couple of nearby community gardens, including one at Nanny Goat Hill at Laurier and Bronson.

Gotham

What: 240 condo units in a 17-storey downtown tower. Also an adjacent seven-unit townhome condo development.

Builder: Lamb Development Corporation

Prices: Apartments that will be available as of Saturday start at $262,900. Condo fees: 42 cents a square foot. Parking, $35,900.

Sales centre: 224 Lyon St.

Hours: Monday to Wednesday, noon to 6 p.m.; Thursday, 3 to 8 p.m.; weekends, noon to 5 p.m. Closed Fridays. (Model viewings by appointment only.)

Information: 613-257-8887gothamottawa.com