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What happens when you take possession of a newly constructed condo

It's exciting to complete the purchase of a newly constructed condo, but don't make the mistake of assuming your work is done.  There are still plenty of steps that need to be completed.  Missing even one step can cause problems that at best are inconvenient and at worse could lead to significant legal problems that are difficult and costly to correct.

Here is how the process would unfold if you had the support and guidance of a real estate lawyer from Sharek Logan & van Leenen LLP:

  1. If there are any conditions (e.g. financing), you must satisfy or remove the condition on or before the date you have indicated.   If a condition date passes without the condition being satisfied or removed, the deal is technically dead.  If a condition is "subject to a lawyer's review", ensure that the contract is sent to our office well before the condition date.
  2. Once conditions are removed, it is your responsibility to send us a copy of the contract.  If you used a realtor, ensure he or she knows we're your lawyer.
  3. Make sure you are pre-approved if you have used a mortgage broker for your mortgage or arranged your mortgage through your banker.  We use the term "lender" to cover both.   It's your responsibility to forward a signed contract to our law office.  Your lender also needs to see the final signed contract and may also want to see the Disclosure Book.   Fees will apply if the builder or our offices needs to handle the distribution of documents to other parties. 
  4. The distribution of key paperwork can only be completed if all parties know who is involved in the transaction.  For example, your lender has to send us the paperwork we need to complete your mortgage.
  5. If you have been approved for a mortgage based on your stated income, your lender must receive paperwork that proves what you have stated.
  6. If you change the contract, our office needs to know what amounts will be due from you.
  7. If the builder wants all or a portion of the change order paid right away, confirm with your lender that the increased amount will be available and ensure our office is advised of the increased amount.
  8. Ensure we are aware of the possession date as the timing of your appointment with us and the acquisition of your mortgage money need to happen before the closing date of your transaction.  The builder has no obligation to change the possession date to suit your needs and may charge you interest if the possession date has to be delayed.
  9. Regarding your description for title, we need to know how to show your name(s) on the title. For example, do you want "Jane Doe" or "Jane B. Doe" or "Jane Brenda Doe"? If someone else will be on title, we need each person's name.  We also need to know how the ownership is to be described if there is more than one owner. You can choose "Joint Tenants", which means if one person dies, ownership automatically passes to any surviving owner(s) (most common for couples). The other option is "Tenants-in-common", which means one of the owners can sell his or her part interest or leave it to someone other than the other owner. Finally, we will want to know what address to show for the owners. If you will be living on the property, then the usual choice is to use that address as your address for title. If you will not be living there, and want notices etc. to be sent somewhere else, give that address.  Information can be forwarded to us by email (realestate@sharekco.com)
  10. Never assume anything.  Follow up with your broker or lender again to ensure that all required paperwork is completed and all conditions are met.
  11. Ideally, you should sign your mortgage documents at least two weeks before your possession date.   This, in turn, means that your lender has sent us mortgage instructions (always confirm this step has been completed).  If we have documents from the seller and the lender, we should be able to tell you how much more money we will need from you to close the deal.  This will include the remainder of the purchase price (not covered by deposit or mortgage funds) plus any adjustments for property taxes and condominium fees and our legal fees.   Payment needs to be made with a certified cheque or bank draft payable to Sharek Logan & van Leenen LLP.  If we can't yet tell you the exact number, we will either call you back or let you know at the appointment.  Contact us if you will be unavailable for any reason.
  12. A "Binder letter" is a letter from the insurance company, binding them to give you insurance in the future. Your insurance policy must show the bank as the "first loss payable." The insurance company will need the name of your bank, its address, and the amount of the mortgage.  The effective date for insurance coverage is your possession date. Don't forget to change your insurance if you get possession earlier.
  13. Our office address is at the top of the first page.  We are in Tower II - the west tower. Parking is limited, but you may find a spot at the parkade on Rice Howard Way, the Library parkade, the underground parkade in Scotia Place, or the underground parkade in Manulife Place.   Remember to bring everything you need to complete your transaction:  funds, one piece of picture ID (e.g. Driver's License) and a second piece with your signature. A major credit card will work. Contact us if you don't have the required ID and need advice on alternatives that might be acceptable by the bank.
  14. Ensure you complete prior to closing any "homework" we have forwarded.  It's also important that you forward to us any change orders.
  15. The builder may require that you transfer some utilities (usually power) into your own name as of the possession date.  Call EPCOR (spell out) in advance of your possession date to ensure you have power when you move in.
  16. Arrange a walk through of your unit to identify any incomplete items and what needs to be done, which should be documented in a report the builder supplies. This is also a good time to get your keys and book an elevator, if required. Don't miss your appointment date with the builder as it may take many days before you can get a new appointment.
  17. The builder may give you a "Certificate of Possession" or something similar.  That document needs to be faxed to us immediately as some lenders will withhold mortgage money until that paperwork is supplied.
  18. Watch your bank account to confirm the dates and amounts are correct. If no funds are withdrawn, contact your lender immediately.
  19. If your lender is not taking the taxes out with the mortgage, you have the option of enrolling in the local TIPP - Tax Installment Payment Plan, which automatically withdraws your tax payments from your bank account.
  20. Copies of the important documents will be forwarded to the address you designate.  This can take several months as some paperwork is completed after closing.

For more information on our Real Estate Law services, please refer to our Real Estate Law FAQs or contact us online

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Sharek Logan & van Leenen LLP Real Estate Legal Team

Edmonton lawyer David van Leenen, a Managing Partner with the law firm Sharek & Co, where he specializes in legal services for the real estate and construction industry, representing both buyers and sellers.

David van Leenen

Managing Partner

Lawyer Pierre Blais, a solicitor in the Edmonton law firm Sharek & Co, where he handles personal injury law suits, real estate law and business and commercial law.

Pierre Blais


Pauline M. Blais


photo of Jim Di Pinto, Edmonton lawyer with Sharek Logan & van Leenen

Genuino (Jim) Di Pinto


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