Ashley Lo | Real Estate Solutions

Buying Pre-Construction Condos



When looking to purchase a condominium, there are essentially two choices – resale or pre-construction. There are advantages and disadvantages to both, however when buying new, there are some details you should be aware of that differ from a typical resale.

Deposit Structure:

Unlike When buying resale where you could have a down payment as low as 5%, buying directly from the builder requires a minimum down payment of typically 20-25%. This may seem like a lot, especially for first time buyers, but this may be an advantage as there will not be additional CMHC loan premium insurance costs and this will reduce your monthly mortgage payment. In addition, the deposit is paid in installments, so it does allow for some time to save. A payment schedule could look like this:


  • $5,000 upon signing the Agreement of Purchase and Sale

  • Balance of 5% in 30 days

  • 5% in 120 days

  • 5% in 350 days

  • 5% at occupancy (see below)


  • TIP: Your Realtor may be able to negotiate a better deposit structure for you.

    10-day Cooling Period

    By-law in Ontario, anyone who buys a new property from a builder has a 10-day cooling off period, during which they can rescind their offer with no penalty. This also allows time to do 2 things: 1) have your Agreement of Purchase and Sale reviewed by a real estate lawyer, and 2) obtain a mortgage approval for your purchase to satisfy the builder’s requirements.

    TIP: Sometimes lenders work with specific builders to offer special rates and incentives.

    Closing Costs

    When you buy pre-construction, there are some additional closing costs that you do not incur when buying resale. Estimates are hard to make because they vary by developer, but averages are outlined below:


  • Development and educational levies ($500-$6000)
  • TARION Warranty enrolment fee ($900-$1200)
  • Utility hook-up fees ($1000-$2000)
  • Misc. fees (law society of Ontario, discharge of builder’s mortgage, etc.) ($200-$500)
  • Assignment fees (if you sell before final closing, or ‘flip’ your unit) ($3000)
  • Occupancy fees (see below)


  • TIP: some of these closing costs can be capped at a maximum figure so it’s important to have Realtor and a lawyer who are experienced in pre-construction condos on your side to help you negotiate these terms with the builder.

    Occupancy Period

    When buying new, there is usually a short period of time between when occupy the condo and when you actually receive title to your condo, known as the occupancy period. During this time, you must pay the developer for the right to occupy the suite. The amount of the occupancy fees is more or less equivalent to interest on the amount outstanding on the purchase price + monthly property taxes + condo fees. You will only pay occupancy fees until your final closing, where you begin paying for your mortgage, but you will never have to pay both at the same time.

    Learn more about Occupancy & Interim Closing

    TIP: to minimize your occupancy fees, buy as high up into the building as possible. Buildings take occupancy from the ground up, therefore the higher your suite is in the building, the shorter your occupancy period will be.

    Final Closing

    Final closing when the building is finally registered and your occupancy period is over. This is when your mortgage payments begin and you officially own your unit. You can choose to put down additional funds on your condo if you want to have more than the typical 20-25% that most builders require.

    TIP: remember that you can shop around for the best mortgage rate right up until final closing, so even if you obtained an approval during your 10-day cooling off period. You can even choose a different lender if you like. That is, your initial pre-approval will satisfy your credit worthiness to the builder, but you can always get another pre-approval from an alternative lender up until you close.

    Ashley Lo | Real Estate Advice, Real Estate Solutions


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