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New condo regulations will impact residential real estate buyers

Purchasing a new condominium unit is an exciting next step for some buyers, and an attractive investment for others. In either case, knowing when the unit is due to be ready may make a large difference to a residential real estate buyer who's making plans for the future. As it happens, though, developers are not legally bound to adhere to a construction timeline.

In 2014, an Edmonton man put a down payment of $60,000 on a condominium unit in the city's downtown. The developer allegedly told him it would be ready to be occupied in the summer of 2017. That target has now been pushed back until 2020, apparently due to rezoning and the sagging Alberta economy. The man claims he had asked for an occupancy date to be written into the sales agreement, but the developer wouldn't consent. He now wishes to have his money back, but the developer is refusing to refund his deposit.

Alberta condo buyers have long been at the mercy of building developers when it comes to occupancy delays. In 2013, a Bill was introduced by the provincial government that would have offered some protection to buyers if occupancy was delayed by more than 90 days. The Bill was reintroduced in 2014 without the section on delays.

Now the government is set to propose an even more strict set of regulations for condo developers. If passed, an expected occupancy date would be required on a purchase agreement. Should there be a delay of more than one month, the buyer would have the option to either renegotiate the agreement, or walk away with a full refund.

If the new regulations go into effect, it should make the new condo market even more attractive to buyers. Having a safety net in place to protect consumers is a positive development. Whether the Bill is or is not passed, however, pre-construction purchase agreements for residential real estate can be complicated and should be thoroughly inspected before signing. Alberta home buyers may wish to consult with a real estate law firm before making any major decisions such as this.

Source:, "Alberta Looks to Help Condo Buyers Bound by Construction Delays", Oct. 26, 2016

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