Buying an Ottawa Condo

Top Condo Buildings In Ottawa That Allow BBQ’s

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When searching for the perfect place to call home, trying to find a condo that ticks all of your boxes can be a daunting task. Especially if one of those must-haves is a private bbq on your balcony, which is almost impossible to find in the majority of condo buildings in Ottawa. Over 95% of the condo buildings in the city do not allow gas (or charcoal) bbq’s, shrinking your possible list down quite a bit. Here are the top condo buildings in Ottawa that currently allow gas barbecues on the balcony.

If you want to know the truth behind the lack of buildings that allow it, check out a blog post we wrote back in 2015 that explains it in more detail.

TIP: Looking at a listing and unsure if it allows a barbecue? Look at the stove/range. If it is a gas stove top, then chances are quite high that the builder also had a gas line installed to the balcony. Keep in mind that this does not guarantee that a barbecue is allowed. To confirm, it is always best to have your lawyer check the status certificate. Plus rules will constantly change, so even if you see a barbecue it does not mean that you would be allowed one (it might be grandfathered). As is with any very important “must-have”, communicate this list to both your realtor and lawyer, so that they can both verify you would be able to (this is the same with pets, etc.).

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Second Avenue West - 808 Bronson

Built in 2012 by local Ottawa builder Domicile, Second Avenue West has the features that continue to attract buyers to Domicile product. While slightly more traditional than other builders mentioned here, the quality of the work and finishes within the units is quite high. Located at 808 Bronson, Second Avenue West is steps from Dow’s Lake, The Rideau Canal, Preston Street, and The Glebe. Each unit has a natural gas line installed on the balcony.

Studio Argyle 255 Argyle Condo Loft in Ottawa Exterior

Studio Argyle - 255 Argyle

Located just off of Bank street directly in Centretown, this hard loft building gets a LOT of attention. Aside from the fact that the condo board allows personal barbecues, the units are very unique with high ceilings and industrial features. Exposed concrete ceilings, brick walls,  ductwork, etc. they are always on the list of someone looking for that hard loft look - IF there is one available. There are only 40 units over the five floors, which makes units very hard to find, especially at a decent price.

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SOBA - 203 Catherine Street

Built in 2019, SoBa is the latest project from the Toronto developer Brad Lamb. Lamb brings the Toronto design to Ottawa, with modern features and finishes at an attractive price. Views from the building are jaw dropping in every direction. Located at 203 Catherine, just off of Bank street, and sandwiched in between Centretown and the Glebe. Each unit has a gas stove top inside, and natural gas line installed on the balcony.

Gotham ottawa 224 Lyon Condos

Gotham - 224 Lyon

Gotham was Brad Lamb’s first building in Ottawa, which was completed in 2015. Located on Lyon at Gloucester, it is a short walk to the downtown core, and a block from Bank street. The building has a multitude of living options including two-storey lofthouses, single-level lofts, glasshouses, and stunning penthouses. Each unit has a gas stove top in the kitchen, and natural gas line installed on the balcony.

Merrion Square - The Radcliffe and The Norfolk - 327 Breezehill and 330 Loretta

Merrion Square Radcliffe Norfolk 327 Breezehill Ottawa Condo

Built by Domicile in 2010 and 2011, both of these buildings are part of Merrion Square, which is a collection of condos and homes. Located just off Carling, the buildings are located steps from Little Italy, Dow’s Lake, The Rideau Canal, and The Ottawa Hospital Civic site. Each unit features a natural gas line installed on the balcony.

One3One - 131 Holland

Domicile built One3One in 2013, which comprises of 191 units over nine floors. The building is located on Holland just steps from Wellington Street, putting you in a “walkers paradise” and providing you with the best of everything that Hintonburg has to offer. Each unit has a natural gas line on the balcony for your private bbq.

The Kavanaugh 7 Marquette Ottawa Condo

The Kavanaugh - 7 Marquette

Completed in 2015, The Kavanaugh is a beautiful building located in the heart of New Edinburgh. A short commute to the office, and access to the thriving amenities and lifestyle that Beechwood provides. There are only 124 units over 10 floors, again making the perfect units hard to find. There are some stunning views of the city, especially from higher floors where you can watch the sunset over downtown. Each unit has a natural gas line on the balcony.

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The Corners On Main - 11 des Oblats Avenue and 166 Main Street

Domiciles latest project which has lately sold the last available unit, is located in Old Ottawa East. A somewhat “new” area to many unfamiliar buyers, adding a great neighbourhood to the possibilities list. It is very easy to commute to the city core, while not being located right in the busy mix of Centretown. You have the river on one side, and the Rideau Canal on the other. A short walk over the pedestrian bridge and you are at Lansdowne Park and The Glebe. Also a very easy commute to the Ottawa Hospital General (and Riverside) campus, CHEO, and UofO Medical School. Many owners will easily say its the best location in the city. The two buildings contain 74 and 64 units over six floors each. Each unit has a natural gas line to the balcony for a private BBQ!

Looking for help to find the perfect condo? Let’s chat! Fill out the form at the bottom of the page.

How To Find The Perfect Condo When The Market Supply Is Low?

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The 2019 condo market is great if you are a seller, but not that great if you are trying to buy. One of the largest issues buyers are facing right now when searching for a condo in Ottawa, is a lack of supply - there are no good condos to buy (at a decent price)! Talk about a first world problem!

When supply is low, there are a bunch of ways that a great agent can help find buyers a property. We put together a list of methods that we use with our buyer’s to find that perfect un-listed/hidden/secret condo.

Working with an agent who focuses on the specific area or building. 

This should go without saying, but if you are looking to get a difficult to find property (aka a condo), working with an agent who focuses on that type of property, or even in the specific building will give you a major head start. Why hire a plumber to do your electrical work? We often have sellers who are 2-3 months away from selling, or getting ready to list next week. Our job is to keep our “ear’s to the ground”!

Peer Networking

One of the best ways I find off market condo’s is by chatting with other agents. In this market I spend more time asking other agents what they have coming up, and letting agents know what I have before a property hits the market. Even getting an extra day notice before a property is listed, gives you the buyer a huge advantage in this market. Having focused on condo’s for such a long period, I receive a high number of other agents letting me know what they have coming up.

Off Market Builder Supply

Typically builders will only list a few units in a building, even if they have a bunch of available condos, as they don’t want to overwhelm a buyer. Often builders won’t tell buyers or other agents that they are able to be purchased. Earlier this year, we had a builder that had condo with cosmetic damage and was not being shown or advertised. However since we had a great relationship with the builder, we were able to sell it to our buyer. Our buyer loved not being under pressure from other buyers trying to compete for the same unit. No bidding wars!!

Looking Outside Your Budget

While this is normally discouraged, it has provided us with options when times were tough! In this market it is common to see sellers get extremely confident with their pricing and list way over market value. A unit that should be $350,000 but is listed for $390,000 might miss your search if you set your max budget to $375,000. A few months or even weeks on the market, and they might be willing to accept a decent offer of market value. 

Parking?

Finding a unit that includes parking can often be a huge restriction when searching, depending on the price point. Not every seller originally purchased parking and that can really cut your options down if you MUST have one. We have seen property matches drop by half - or even more! Ask yourself if you really NEED parking? Could you rent a parking spot? I have helped many buyers who have decided it was a better option for them to rent a spot in the building for $150 per month than pay $35,000 upfront plus another $80 per month in extra condo fees. While this isn’t a solution for everyone, knowing these options that you have can make a huge difference.

Consider Renting?

While you won’t hear many agents try to convince you away from buying, sometimes renting is the smarter idea - at least temporarily. We all have those friends who have bought something since it was the only option versus waiting for the right option, and regretted it shortly after. If you don’t love it, then don’t buy it! That being said, renting in this market is almost as difficult, if not worse - but at least you’re not tied to a $400k mortgage.

Need help finding a condo? If you are not already working with another agent, we would love to help. Fill out the form below, or call/txt directly 613-286-9501.

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THE Buyers Guide To Condo Assignments In Ottawa

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If you are hunting for a condo in Ottawa, you might hear the term assignment, or that a condo is being sold as an “assignment”. While not a typical transaction, purchasing a condo assignment can be a lucrative way to get a great deal, or into a hot building that has no remaining inventory.

What is an assignment?

An assignment is a transfer by the original purchaser (the Assignor) of the original Agreement of Purchase and Sale (APS) to the new purchaser (the Assignee). This means that they are not selling or buying the actual condo, but rather they are selling or buying their interest in the deal. The new buyer (Assignee) is buying the ability to become the Assignor (original buyer). You often hear assignments referred to as selling “paper” or selling the deal. These can happen for any transaction, however in real estate the majority of times it is for either land assembly (buying numerous lots to create one large one - ie for building a condo development), or for single pre-construction condominiums. In Ottawa, it is rare for people to sell an assignment for a residential freehold (house) simply due to the lead time (only takes 6 months to build a house).

Why do condo assignments occur?

Condominium assignments typically occur for a few reasons. The first thing to remember is that condo units were typically first sold three to four years (or even longer) before the buyer could move in. Often, the original purchasers have had a change in circumstance and no longer want to continue with the purchase. a.k.a. partners, babies, pets, jobs, income, etc. The second reason we see often is that the original purchaser was a speculator who purchased with the intention of assigning the contract to profit from the increase in price or value.

Why can it make sense to purchase an assignment?

Hot building? Purchasing a condo assignment is a way to purchase a condo in a building that has no available inventory. It also is typically cheaper than purchasing the unit once the building has been registered and units are listed for resale. PLUS We have seen assignments that are priced lower than the similar unit that is available from the builder in the same project.

Plus you still have the benefits of buying brand new, such as being eligible for Tarion warranty program, pre-delivery inspections, etc. Compared to re-sale where you might have missed these opportunities.

Important things to know when looking to buy a condo assignment

1. You are buying a pre-construction condo and are taking on all of the risks. Delays, changes to occupancy, changes to the building, or even projects that flop and could be canceled. This also includes any interim occupancy payments. While it is the same risk as buying directly from the builder it is important to take note.

2. The original Agreement of Purchase and Sale (APS). When you are buying an assignment, you are replacing the original buyer, and you are taking on all of the terms, conditions, and obligations, that the original buyer agreed to. You are now fully responsible for the purchase. This can include terms that the original buyer might not have cared about, but they might matter to you. It is not possible to renegotiate the terms with the builder.

3. Builder Adjustments or Development Costs. In the original APS it will mention (often clause 6) the adjustments that will be charged by the builder on top of the purchase price. This is no different from buying directly from the builder, but not something you would deal with for a resale property. Usually, these can include development charges, education levies, park levies, initial contribution to the reserve fund, Tarion enrollment, HST on chattels, law society levy, builders solicitors confirmation of deposit letters, etc. These closing costs can easily amount to 1-3% of the original purchase price.

4. Capped Builder Adjustments. Often when purchasing a pre-construction condo from a builder you are able to negotiate and have the builders' adjustments capped (ex $5,000 or $10,000). It is important to know if the original purchaser had negotiated this. While it might seem like a no-brainer, most buyers are not aware it is possible and don’t even ask. Be aware that the cap might not be applicable to the assignee. Every deal and builder is different and this is constantly changing.

5. Deposit. Typically the original buyer (assignor) is looking to mirror the deposit that they have given to the builder. This can be 15% or 20%, which is held in trust until closing. Compared to a re-sale purchase where it can be significantly less. This often rules out assignments for buyers with a smaller downpayment. While this is negotiable between the Assignor and Assignee, it is standard and not typically lower than the original deposit amount.

6. Finishes and Upgrades. Depending on how far along you purchase the assignment, you might not be able to choose the finishes or any upgrades. If they have already been chosen, make sure you like what the Assignor picked out!

7. HST. HST with pre-construction condos can be a complicated beast. Every project can be different, however, it is up to the developer whether to give the HST rebate or have you apply directly to CRA. If the developer believes (or if the original purchaser said it would be for an investment), you will have to pay the HST on closing (and can apply for the rebate after).

8. Closing Costs. The closing costs can be slightly higher compared to a resale property. Legal fees are often higher since the deal is involving two transactions (acquiring the assignment, and the actual closing). Your lawyer should be able to break down the cost in advance.

9. Builder Approval. Every assignment is conditional upon the builder allowing the assignment to happen. Before the assignment is advertised, the assignor will ask the builder for permission. Many builders will not allow their original purchasers the ability to assign contracts. We have seen original APS that state that assignments are allowed, but then a schedule which declares they are not allowed! PLUS if the Assignor is given permission from the builder, there is typically a fee to allow them. We have seen this fee up to $7,000 plus the builder's legal fees of $2,000. While negotiable, this fee is typically the responsibility of the Assignor.

10. Your Team. Have the best team of professionals standing with you to make the purchase. Your lawyer and REALTOR should be experts.

Real estate transactions are complicated to begin with. On an average builder Agreement of Purchase and Sale there can be hundreds of clauses, dozens of schedules, and an endless amount of lawyer talk. The assignment process is more complicated and tricky, using paperwork, terms, and conditions, that doesn’t look anything like the usual APS for a resale condo. When you are looking at purchasing an assignment make sure you have a professional REALTOR well versed with condo assignments who can walk you through the entire process and ensure that you are well protected. If you are looking at buying a condo assignment in Ottawa, fill out the form below to chat!

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The LRT + Ottawa Condo's - Which Buildings Are Close To an LRT Stop?

Currently under construction, the new LRT is certainly going to help transform the city and make getting around easier. 13 stops in total (not including what is currently built or planned for the second and following phase), including three stops in the underground tunnel which is located downtown. The LRT will without a doubt, transform our city.

However, when I went to try and find an easy way to see exactly where the stops are, or how far away I was from one, there didn’t seem to be an easy resource. To solve this problem we put together a quick (and still a work in progress) interactive map with all of the stops and condo buildings!

Click on this link - or visit https://ottawalrtstations.com

Keep in mind it is still a work in progress as we add buildings, future phases, and stops. If you have some feedback or if there is something we can fix, let me know!

What is a PDI or Pre-Delivery Inspection?

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Often you will hear people in Ottawa throwing around the term PDI - Which stands for pre-delivery inspection. When you purchase a brand new condo (or home) you will be enrolled in the seven-year Tarion Warranty program. Before you take occupancy (move in), you will do an "inspection" of the entire unit with the builder. This is a comprehensive inspection where you may also be demonstrated on how to operate the home's systems such as plumbing, heating, and cooling. 

Any item that is damaged, missing, incomplete, or not operating correctly, should be noted on the PDI form that the builder will provide, which will verify that these conditions existed prior to occupancy. Some units have many small problems, some have very few. This is a chance for the builder to correct any issues before you take occupancy. Once the inspection is over, you will be asked to sign the PDI form.

Some examples that we have seen first hand are:
- tiles or flooring installed incorrectly or damaged
- appliances missing or damaged
- cabinet trim missing or damaged
- windows damaged
- baseboard trim damaged or missing
- poor paint or drywall mudding
- drywall nail pops
- counters missing or damaged
- the list goes on...

Keep in mind that the PDI is to establish that the problem existed before you moved in. If it is not mentioned on the PDI form, then it may be difficult to establish that the issue did not happen after you moved in and after you have occupancy. If there are any items that are not corrected by the time you move in, they need to be listed on a 30-day or year-end form. These forms represent a request for a warranty service and listed items that are covered under warranty that must be addressed by the builder within a specific amount of time.

If you are unable to make the PDI, you can always ask the builder and try to change the date. If that is not possible, you are able to send a designate (such as your real estate agent or friend/family member) - just provide your builder with written authority to sign the PDI form. 

Check out our post with tips for doing your PDI inspection - CLICK HERE.

Questions about buying condos in Ottawa? I would love to chat. Fill out the form below and ask away!

Matt Richling x Ottawa Citizen - What You Should Know About Buying A Condo In Ottawa

Matt was asked about some of the things to look out for when purchasing a condo in Ottawa. CLICK HERE to read the full article.

"Matt Richling, an Ottawa real estate agent, says prospective buyers should also check with the people who live in the building by knocking on doors or connecting on social media to find out more about the “culture” of the condo. “A condo, in theory, is a city within a city,” he says. “Neighbours are the most important thing when you’re buying a house, and that’s the same here. Instead of living the next plot over, you’re sharing a small wall with neighbours.”

Richling, though, says that being engaged in the financial and physical health of the building is crucial, and that means attending meetings.
“It’s the biggest thing,” he says. “Be involved. Think about what’s important to you.”

Thinking about buying a condo in Ottawa? Let's chat!

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! 

Breaking News - Change to Minimum Downpayments In Ottawa

Earlier today the Finance Minister announced a big change to CMHC-backed mortgages over $500,000. Starting February 15th, 2016, purchasing an Ottawa properties over $500,000 will require a minimum downpayment of 10% instead of the current 5%. However, this only applies to the portion above $500,000. 

This change will not affect
- those who are purchasing under $500,000.
- those who are renewing regardless of being over $500,000

This change was put into place to ensure security in riskier transactions, specifically in markets such as Toronto and Vancouver. The government claims that this should only impact about 1% of Canadians.

Looking for more information about buying or selling, or just want to talk about how these changes could affect you? Fill out the form below.

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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.

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!

Why should I use an agent to help buy my Ottawa Home or Condo?

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Anyone can purchase a home, but buying the wrong home, without proper research, knowledge and information, can be immeasurable.

With a surge of online resources and increasing for-sale-by-owner market, it is not surprising that some buyers consider a DIY attitude when looking at Ottawa condos or homes. 

For most people, a real estate professional is an indispensable partner in the home-buying process. While buyers today are more educated and have more tools, all the research in the worlds can't match an experienced agent's understanding of the market. When the market, buildings, and trends are changing on a day to day basis, you should go to someone that is kept up to date on this information. Simple information that is not going to be found online, like building issues, or past/upcoming special assessments, stigmatized properties, the list goes on.

The real estate agent is completely objective and professional when discussing their opinion of the property being considered for purchase unlike a parent, spouse or best friend. A good agent should be able to walk you through both, pro's and con's of every property.

The buyer's agent fee is typically compensated by the seller, which means that as a buyer you have nothing to loose and everything to gain by tapping the expertise of an agent. 

Are you looking for more information about using the services of Matt Richling as your buyer's agent?

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Pets In Ottawa Condos

A renovated condo at  324 Laurier Ave  by   Kariouk Associates  featuring dog bowl (repurposed urinal).

A renovated condo at 324 Laurier Ave by Kariouk Associates featuring dog bowl (repurposed urinal).

When working with a client, one of the common questions I receive about a building or a property is regarding pets, and are they allowed in the building. While most buildings in Ottawa allow pets, there are a few condo buildings that have pet restrictions. If you are looking to buy and have a four legged friend, there are a few things to note before you sign on the dotted line.

Tell your agent. Before you head out looking, make sure to express to your agent that you have a pet, and that you will be taking the pet with you. While most buildings will be okay with pets, some are not, and it would be best to know before falling in love with a unit. Your agent will know, or be able to find out what the stance of the building is on pets. 

Tell your lawyer. While the lawyer is reviewing the status certificate, they will review the bylaws of the building. This is when they would be able to tell you that there are certain bylaws that restrict pets, certain pets, or not at all. Even if your agent has given the go ahead, a second set of eyes that can ensure the building is okay with pets, never hurts. 

Matt and his partner with their Weim "Ella"

Matt and his partner with their Weim "Ella"

Keep in mind - you might see an owner with a dog in the lobby, but that doesn't mean pets are allowed. Rules are constantly changing, and it is always best to consult the building bylaws for the correct and up to date rules. EXAMPLE: 199 Kent Street or Kent Towers, has recently changed the ruling for dogs in the building. However a number of owners had pets already, so they were "grandfathered" which would allow them to stay even though the building has a pet restriction.

Other restrictions might be size or weight of the pet ( no pets over 50lbs, or some even 25.5lbs!). Some buildings restrict amount of pets (no more than one pet), height restriction (20 inches or less), and even type of pet. 

Are you a pet owner looking to make a move, and not sure if the condo life will work? We lived in our condo when we had Ella as a puppy. I would love to answer any questions!

Need A Parking Spot? What To Expect!

If you purchased a condo in Ottawa with only one parking spot (or without any spot), and now need a second spot, there are a number of different ways to go about it.

Many developers place a limit on which units are able to purchase parking, and many buildings have much fewer parking to condo units. For those who need parking, it can add an additional and difficult check box to tick off when looking to buy. Often it can be easier to focus on which unit you want first, and then acquire parking after you close. For those who need parking, there are a number of different ways to get a parking spot. depending on if you need a shorter solution, or a more permanent one, you are able to rent or even buy a spot.

Renting

For many, renting a parking spot is the easiest way to acquire parking in the building. Renting makes it affordable, and less of a financial commitment. A parking spot can range from $80 to over $200 per month, per spot. There are many factors that can determine the cost of a spot in Ottawa such as the location of the building, which floor the spot is located on, distance to elevator, and if their are any fans or pipes that block part of the space. Supply and demand can also influence the price (more spots = lower price). Usually parking spots for rent can be found on notice boards, by asking security or concierge, or even  found in the building's facebook group. 

TIP: Often if you are able to pay up front for a longer period of time, you can get additional savings.

Buying

While not easy for many to do, the other option to acquire a parking spot is to purchase one. In order to do this, the building must have each unit, parking, and locker, registered under separate PINS. This allows each unit, parking, or locker to be sold separately. Typically cost is between $30,000 to $35,000 but depending on the building and location of the spot, the price does range. Keep in mind that it is open to negotiation, so if the seller really needs to sell, then you might get a good deal.

The main issue with buying the spot, is how you will have to pay for it. Essentially you need to pay cash for the parking spot, and most people do not have an extra $35,000 just laying around. If you are like most and do not have a large hidden supply of cash, or if your dream condo does not have a parking spot, you might still be in luck. PPPI Mortgages, or Purchase Price Plus Improvements is a product that will allow the bank to finance the purchase the parking spot into the mortgage, since it will improve the overall value of the unit. Keep in mind there are a number of regulations and rules, so speak to a mortgage broker if this interests you.

Things To Remember

While for many that work downtown, it might seem like a perfect solution to the parking problem to rent one of the available spots from a near by condo building. However, many (if not all) condo corporations have by-laws in place that restrict someone from owning, renting, or purchasing, if they do not reside in the building. So if you have a spot to rent or sell, remember that you will need to sell it so someone who lives in the building.

If you have any questions about parking, or Ottawa condos in general, I would love to chat. Click Here.

Dear Matt: Looking at buying my first place.... Lawsuits?!

Have a question about real estate that you would like answered? Email Matt directly Matt@MattRichling.com.

Dear Matt,

I'm looking at buying my first condo in Ottawa and my search keeps bringing me to a particular building. I love the central location and the prices aren't as high as the new builds I've seen. I have been told that it has a lawsuit against the builder, any idea on that?

I'm wondering if you have any more information about situations like this and weather it is a bad idea to bad in a building that has a lawsuit or other issues.

Thanks,
Taylor

 

---

Hi Taylor:

Right off the bat, talk to your lawyer. If/when you decide to move forward, you will include a condition in the Agreement of Purchase and Sale (APS) that allows your lawyer time to review the status certificate and documents. During this period, you will be able to find out much more detailed information about the condo corporation, building by-laws, financial history, and any projected increases in fees, among other things. 

HOWEVER. Lawyers are hired by you, to save you from any trouble. Think guardian angel sorta domain. So when it comes time to choose your lawyer, be very picky on who you have standing in your corner. Ideally you want someone who is local, who is not afraid to tell you the issues, but is able to remove judgement from the issues and not scare you. Great example is also the building inspector, who is also working for you to find issues and give you information. A good building inspector can tell you all the issues without saying personal judgement - "Don't buy this", "I love this builder", These renovations look horrible",  "I would live here" etc. You want facts. Not emotion. A good lawyer will tell you the facts without trying to scare you. 

That being said, purchasing a unit while knowing that there are issues in the building is a risk. Lawsuits are not "cut and dry" and it can go either way. It can be resolved and the building/condo corporation gets what it wants, or the builder can win and certain costs could be picked up by the owners in a special assessment or increase in condo fees.

You need to fully understand the issues, get the facts, listen to the professionals who you hire to look out for you, and know if you are comfortable taking a risk like this or not. 


Ottawa Citizen Article - Condo Roundup - Take Aways

The Ottawa Citizen published an article today about the condo market in Ottawa, along with some insider forecasts on the current and future market. You can read the full article here. I have summarized the important take aways, then going to run through exactly what it means for buyers, sellers, and everyone else. 

Coles Notes:
- CMHC reports lowest condo construction starts this year since 2009.
- CMHC says the unsold inventory is to blame
- CMHC forecasts another smaller decline in 2015, then rallying back in 2016
- An industry analyst (from PMA Brethour Realty Group) predicts condos will represent ~18% of sales in 2014, compared to 25% in 2013, 29% in 2012.
- PMA blames poorer job prospects, and more cautious first time buyers, and investors are buying less than previous years, are maxed out, or scared by still-increasing prices.
- PMA sees condo sales increasing over the next year when first time buyers return to market. 

What exactly does this mean for those looking to buy in Ottawa?

Donald Trump is famous for saying you make money in the buy, not the sell. During the meltdown in the USA, Warren Buffett was advising to buy residential real estate before prices went back up. Over the next year or so, CMHC along with other analysts, are expecting the market to continue to soften, and then start to rise again. If you are in the market to buy, there is no better feeling then knowing the prices are going to lower (allowing you to buy low), and then rise. Obviously, you want to take your time and find the perfect place, at the best price, that suits you and your future. *NOTE* Plan on holding your property for at least three years, (preferably five), other wise the costs will outweigh your benefits. So think hard and long about your future or if uncertain, at least look at units that can cover the costs by renting it out. This also means the style of property. Are you dating? Chances are that 500sqft unit wont work for the future couple. Want a dog or kid? same thing. Think ahead and save yourself down the road.

What exactly does this mean for those looking to sell in Ottawa?

Certainly not great if you purchased your condo since 2009 and are looking to sell in the next year or two. You have more competition, and harder pricing. You will need to make your property stand out among the rest, and be willing to work with a buyer for a sale. ***Chances are, you have/will never heard/hear an agent say this but....*** if you can hold out, do it. Wait it out. This is the opposite of what we are "supposed" to say, but this is your largest investment - treat it as such. While you wait, the mortgage is getting paid down, and you will have more room later on. THE FLIP SIDE of this, if you need to sell, take the hit now (hopefully as small as possible), and find a great deal that will have a better return. 

What does this mean for those who are just checking in, with no immediate plans to buy or sell?

Don't panic. Everything goes up and down, and while we have seen a slow but constant increase, corrections are due to happen. Re-evaluate your life plan and see how your living situation will fit in the property over the next four or five years. Then try and plan accordingly. 

Do you want to chat about planing to buy? Or make a plan to reduce the hit you will take when selling? I would love to help you out, click the button below.

Matt Richling Ottawa Condos For Sale.jpg

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. 

Bought our Ottawa home, When do we get the keys?

Papers are signed, deal is done, inspector has gone through.... Congrats!

As the days get closer, you will start to plan the move, and life at your new home. Things like moving company, internet, and any renovations, will all need to be co-ordinated in advance. Most of this planing will revolve around the house and having access to the house - aka needing the keys. When exactly will you get the keys in Ottawa?

The biggest mistake that first time buyers make, is booking things for closing day. 90 percent of the time, you wont receive the keys till the afternoon, or most likely 3pm till 5pm. That is if the deal closes when it is supposed to (keep in mind that there are many reasons why it might not close on time). This means do not book Rogers to hook up the internet on the afternoon of closing, because if you don't have the keys, chances are the next open appointment wont be for a week (at least that would be my luck).

Moving companies are a little different, and are used to the process. Make sure to be clear and let them know when you should expect the keys and best to book them for after 5pm, depending on traffic etc. I would always prefer to have a little time before the movers get there to look over the house and enjoy it.

If you can, try and take the day off work. There will be enough stress, that the last thing you need is a work deadline, or annoying co-worker.

Good luck!


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. 

What to expect on closing day in Ottawa for a first time buyer!?

First of all, congratulations on getting this far.

If you are like me, you are probably reading this the night or so before closing day, and are trying to figure what your upcoming day will be like. Well the good news is that most of the possible issues or problems have most likely already happened, or out of your control.  What that means is, you shouldn't find out on closing day, that you didn't get financing (that was the week leading up to closing!). So... GO TO SLEEP. No point in being tired and cranky!

Most likely you have either signed the paperwork already (a day or two earlier) with the lawyer, or will be doing it all on closing day. They would have set up a time for you to come in, and would have told you the amount that you will need in a certified cheque or bank draft. This amount is always more than you think it is going to be (closing costs, lawyer fee's, etc), so do NOT guess it. They will tell you exactly what it will be. If there is a difference in the amount, the lawyer will send you a cheque after closing with all the closing documents. Make sure to bring ID, and anything else that they have requested from you. While going through all the paperwork with the lawyer, don't feel rushed. Make sure to ask for clarification, or to have the lawyer run through it with you. Everyone makes mistakes and better to catch them now, then find out later. Also helps you better when you understand what you are signing and why.

Once the paperwork is signed, the lawyers need to send the funds, register the sale, etc. Legally the lawyer is not able to release the keys until everything is completed. Usually this is sometime in the late afternoon, 3pm-5pm. Since the registry office (yes... it is all online now) closes at 5pm, they will rush to do it last minute or have to wait till next day. What this also means, is don't plan on moving in, mid-day. Many people will book the internet to be installed, and then find out they don't have the keys yet. Best to schedule everything the next day, when you are more likely to have the keys.

If you are closing on a work day and won't be able to sign or grab the keys, let everyone know this. Let your agent and your lawyer know, so they can make alternate arrangements. Most law offices close at 5pm, so would suck not to be able to get the keys!

While it can be stressful, try and enjoy the experience. It is all part of the process of home ownership!

Questions about what to expect? Click on the button below to contact me, I would love to help!


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. 

Tips For Doing Your Condo's PDI Inspection

You have been waiting (possibly up to three years) for this day, congratulations you can see your condo in real life for the first time! The PDI or pre-delivery inspection is an opportunity for you to walk through the condo with the builders representative before you take occupancy. The main purpose of the PDI is for you and the builder to make a list of deficiencies before you move in. This could be anything that is damaged, incomplete, missing items, as well as anything that is not functioning the way it is intended. Here are a few tips that you can use to help get the most out of your PDI!

- Be nice with the developers representative. Typically, they are the one who does all the PDI's for the building and will really be able to tell you what has to still be done. They are usually very picky, so make it easy for them help you. 

- Be picky. While the developers representative works for the builder, they will generally be blunt with you depending on what the deficiency is. They will either say that is not something that the builder will repair/replace/etc, or they will. 

- Don't rush! This is your time, and your PDI. Don't let the representative rush you, but also don't take up their whole day. Get to the appointment early and be prepared.

- Look at every room, but the most important is the kitchen and then the bathrooms. This is where your condo has the most moving parts, and has more things to be installed incorrectly.

- Details! Turn on every faucet, flush every toilet, close every door, inspect every wall, open every cabinet. Anything could have been installed incorrectly, so don't be afraid to point something out.

- Bring someone with you. The more eyes the better! Bring your agent (especially if you are planning on renting it out, or selling it shortly after), friend, parents, etc.

- Don't hire a home inspector for an apartment style condo PDI. Home inspectors are not trained to inspect brand new condos, they are trained to find problems in old homes. Save the $300-500.

- Read your APS (Agreement of Purchase and Sale) again before your PDI. There will be numerous schedules, like the one for finishes and features. Compare what you see with what was promised you, and make sure you are getting what is agreed.

- If you missed something during the PDI, you still have the 30-day Tarion form. After you take possession, if you find a 'deficiency' you can use your 30-day form to go through Tarion.

- Pick your battles. If you do have deficiencies with your Ottawa condo after you take possession (and many will), pick your battles carefully and focus on the most important issues. Understand you are most likely never going to have a 100% perfect unit.

- Bring a tape measure and flashlight. While you will have the builders floor plan as a guide for furniture, this is your chance to see exactly how much space you have for the couch, dining table or bed. Remember that the builder is allowed to modify space to a small degree, so it might change from the original plan. Sometimes the power might be off, if the builder is working on a certain part of the building, so having a flashlight just incase doesn't hurt! (Thanks to jcphoenix for the flashlight tip!)

Do you have questions about PDI's, or purchasing a condo? I would love to help.


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 or condo that fits their lifestyle.