By Condo Culture
There are all sorts of intricacies with condo assignment sales and purchases, so it’s important to first connect to a brokerage and REALTOR® with lots of assignment transaction experience under their belt.
We have helped hundreds of clients with their assignment buying and selling needs, and our client’s excitement and enthusiasm when a transaction is completed is incredibly rewarding! We are the area’s premier condo selling and buying team and walk hand-in-hand throughout the entire assignment process with our clients. We have a few exciting condo assignment listings available right now at Station Park and Garment Street Condo, each one includes a detailed floor plan so you can understand what the final product will look like. If one or more of those assignments interest you, be sure to click on the “TALK TO A CONDO CULTURE EXPERT” button and provide your information so one of our specialists can reach out to you.
Before getting into the nitty-gritty details of condo assignments, let’s first touch on the basics of them, so you have a sound understanding of the terms and how they work.
Outlining What a Condo Assignment Sale Is
In its purest form, a condo assignment is a unit that was originally purchased by a buyer during the pre-construction phase and that buyer wants to sell it prior to the building’s construction being completed, before an occupancy date reached and the building has been officially registered. The original buyer may want to sell the condo due to changing financial circumstances, he or she originally intended to move into the unit but plans have changed, it’s an investor who has too many units and wants to sell one off, or for a variety of other reasons.
Each condo developer handles assignment options differently, and some don’t allow them at all, so it’s important that if you’re buying a pre-construction unit, you understand the circumstances around them in case you need or want to sell prior to the completion date.
When a pre-construction is first purchased by a buyer, an Agreement of Purchase and Sale (APS) is drafted which outlines the purchaser’s legal rights and obligations. The person who is selling a condo assignment is named the assignor and the buyer is designated to be the assignee. An assignment clause is typically included in the APS and the fee is usually in the $5K to $15K range, but every developer has its own fee and terms.
How An Assignment Deal Gets Finalized
A conditional offer and agreement between the assignor and assignee becomes legally binding once the first deposit is made by the assignee, and that amount is negotiable. The assignee has 10 days after making the first deposit to have his or her lawyer review all original documentation to ensure everything looks solid. One common clause to be aware of is unit upgrades and unpaid unit upgrades, so there are no financial surprises as the condo moves through its construction process. The assignee is typically responsible for any outstanding costs including unpaid upgrade expenses, but like most aspects of assignment deals, everything is negotiable. Once the lawyer review is completed and deal conditions have been met, the next deposit by the assignee is required - typically 15% to 20% of the sale price or whatever the assignor originally paid as a deposit. Once the developer approves the transaction or when the assignee receives a mortgage once the building has been registered and occupancy begins, then the difference in price between the pre-construction price and assignment sale price will be paid to the assignor. The assignee is also responsible for the typical real estate closing costs at this point including Tarion warranty enrolment fees.
Benefits for Assignors
Most notably, the seller of an assignment is often making some sort of a profit - how much that ends up being varies depending on current market conditions, how far along the development is, what the assignment fee was, HST and tax implications, and other factors.
The next benefit is that there are no closing costs because the sale is happening before the building has wrapped up construction, so no mortgage is involved and closing costs are non-existent.
Once the assignment is sold and the APS belongs to the new owner, the assignor receives money as outlined above and can use it as he or she pleases for real estate or otherwise. Want to sell your condo assignment? Be sure to connect with us to leverage our deep experience with selling assignments as we have thousands of active buyers engaged on the region's top condo specific search site: CondoCulture.ca, do email marketing to thousands of subscribers through our One List and weekly newsletter, promote listings on our social media accounts, feature listings in our Uptown Waterloo store windows, plus so much more to ensure the success of our condo assignment sellers.
Benefits for Assignees
A big benefit to buying a condo assignment is that you can get access to a development that’s likely already sold out. Station Park is one example - the first two towers sold out extremely quickly in 2019, but we have sold dozens of assignments in Tower 1 and Tower 2 to buyers who couldn’t get their hands on a unit initially, but got their opportunity through an assignment.
With the condo resale market white-hot and multiple offers on almost every listing, assignments provide a fantastic buying opportunity as there’s often less competition for this type of real estate purchase. Assignments typically can’t be listed on traditional marketing channels such as MLS so you tend to see that fewer potential buyers are aware of them. This means that Assignment Units can often be purchased for their list price or at least in that general range. At any given time, Condo Culture has a number of off-market, exclusive listings that cannot be found on MLS, Realtor.ca, or coming soon listings. Bottom line - working with our team of REALTORS® gives you an unfair advantage for tapping into these exclusive listings as they first become available.
There can also be some outstanding value buying opportunities if assignors need some capital relatively quickly and are extra motivated to sell fast. There might be some room to negotiate on the list price and a unit can even potentially be purchased below the current estimated market value. This sort of scenario is especially attractive if the occupancy date is just a few months away and the asset can be used to live in or lease out in the not too distant future. Be sure to leverage our condo assignment buying experience- we have literally sold dozens of them over the past few months, and hundreds throughout our company’s history.
Assignments and HST
The assignor will need to pay HST on the profit that he or she makes on a condo in addition to the deposit money that gets returned - on average, roughly 78% of those amounts are taxable, but each and every assignment deal is unique and should be supported by experienced professionals including lawyers and accountants.
Real estate is often a numbers game, and what we are increasingly seeing is the list price being adjusted to essentially bake in the HST expense that will need to be paid. So if an assignor wants to clear $x from the sale, our experts are calculating the estimated HST that will need to be paid and adding it in. Every assignment sale and situation is unique, and that’s where our team’s specialized expertise comes in handy, so an assignor won’t be surprised when it comes time to pay the government their fair share. However, we strongly recommend working with professional accountants who have significant assignment deal experience - we can provide you with a shortlist of our favourites should you decide to list yours for sale through Condo Culture. We can almost always provide a breakdown of financial insights to our clients, but again, we strongly encourage working with a professional accountant who is well versed in assignment transactions to receive the most accurate numbers.
End-users who are looking to buy assignments can potentially get a break when it comes to paying the HST, but as we outline below, every deal is different, assignment laws are evolving, and it’s so important to have an experienced accountant and lawyer on your team to know what potential options are at your disposal.
Top Legal Considerations and Clauses For Assignment Deals
Every assignment deal is different and unique in its own right, so it’s vitally important to hire a lawyer who has extensive experience with these types of transactions. Laws regarding assignments may change over time, so again, a lawyer who has this specific expertise will be key to your assignment selling and buying success. Our team has worked with several lawyers to help bring assignment deals to the finish line, and we are more than happy to make recommendations when the time comes for legal representation.
A big part of each assignment deal is that the deal isn’t officially completed until the project’s developer has given formal approval in writing, and during this time, the seller has the ability to cancel the sale if he or she decides to (this is a very rare occurrence). One of the most common reasons for this happening is the condo’s value is increasing rapidly and the seller may feel that he or she can get a better deal elsewhere to realize a larger profit. No profit is made on an assignment sale until the building is registered, and the deal officially closes. The assignor will get the first deposit and his or her 15% to 20% deposit back, but won’t get the additional money until the building’s registration event takes place. Legal terms such as these mentioned here are typical assignment deal standards, but each agreement certainly has its own, and your lawyer will need to go through every clause and sentence with a fine-tooth comb.
In most cases, MLS / Realtor.ca can’t be legally utilized for assignment listings (unlike resale properties), so the buyer has to come from elsewhere. Again, that’s why Condo Culture is incredibly valuable when it comes to assignments since we have a large buyer database to pull from and the region's most active condo search site, along with many different marketing channels to ensure our sellers can connect with quality buyers to maximize the final sale price.
You need a complete team between a real estate professional, lawyer, and accountant to support you whether you’re selling or buying an assignment. This type of real estate product is much different from a resale property as you’re essentially buying and owning an agreement until the condo is registered and reaches its occupancy date.
We have created resources on this important topic in the past, we outlined the benefits of condo assignments and provided information on what they are and how to manage the assets, and also how to assign a pre-construction condo.
We are the area’s condo assignment expert, so if you’re looking to sell or buy one of these units, be sure to reach out to us so we can explore potential options with your exciting goals at the forefront of it all. Also, feel free to stop by our Waterloo office (pictured above) right below Bauer Lofts at 191 King Street South in Waterloo for a conversation, our team would love to speak to you about any of your condo goals.