After eight unsuccessful condo purchases, unsuccessful because each attempt brought with it exposure to developers that at best I would call “cockroaches“.
I’m sure everyone is familiar with these dirty little creatures that hide in the shadows and when a light comes on they scurry for their hiding place.
The entire condo system in Ontario is so drastically out of whack that it is difficult to know where to start!
You would think that there must be a “Developer School” as each and every one of them (there actually is a couple, but only a couple of exceptions in Toronto) operates with the exact same “M.O.” (method of operation).
The are so warm and inviting when you show up a condo pre-sale site and for then (10) days it seems like you are the most important person in the world to them.
But when that ten days rescission period expires and your deal becomes firm, you can forget about anything that even closely resembles “customer service“.
So, after eight different condo attempts, ranging from a beautiful unit in Park Avenue is Forest Hill to a $1.5 Million premier suite in what was marketed as “Forest Hills Most Prestigious Address” only to have to listen to my upstairs neighbour peeing each morning at 5:00 a.m., I concluded that there simply no longer such a thing as a GOOD CONDO!
I decided to bail out of condos, the product that made me so successful in my selling career, and find a detached home, which is no small undertaking, when you see the product that a million dollars buys you today in Toronto’s detached housing market.
And quite truthfully, I’ve had it with Toronto! I own what should be the most magnificent condo imaginable.
It is situated in a park as opposed to on a city street so, in theory, you should end up living in a serene tranquil environment.
In reality though, the City of Toronto, owner of the park and major beneficiary from all the developments enclosing it, chose to insult the buyers of this couple thousand condo units and twelve prestigious townhouses and intentionally destroy the park while all the while selling buyers on this supposed $3.5 Million redesign and renovation to the park itself.
Now, the City didn’t have to put up anything for this renovation as they pass that expense on to the developer who used the park redesign and renovation as a key sales and marketing tool and/or feature.
That “Bait and Switch” fantasy tale ended when the condo units were all sold to unsuspecting consumers gullible enough to buy into the story. Who wouldn’t as it was the City itself promoting this alleged beautification to an existing park.
But “Bait and Switch” it was!
Immediately following moving into our townhouse and during the first year of occupancy enjoying this magnificent oasis in the midst of Toronto’s most cosmopolitan city, and enjoying watching young families teaching their infant children to skate on the historic rink situated in the park, that was named after Canada’s Olympic Gold Figure Skating champion Barbara Ann Scott, the City voluntarily and without justification “gutted” the park!
Today the park has become a blighted eye-sore with degenerates using it as a bathroom more than as a park.
A young woman was raped in broad daylight recently! We walked out our front door recently only to come across a man with his pant at his ankles walking around defecting!
The City cut off all water to the park immediately following the first year of occupancy and for the past five or six years while the final tower of the three phase development was being built the city has simply ignored the park allowing it to literally fall apart!
Today the park has become an unsafe derelict area with the majority of trees dead, the skating rink which served as a beautiful summer time fountain for decades before this alleged redevelopment.
Recently the City has also allowed the lighting in the park to die making it a “No-Go” area at night!
The City of Toronto, brought all of this about while it had an annual budget (for decades) to maintain the park.
A rational person would think that with all the revenue wind-falls that the city enjoys in Permit fees alone ($10 Million per tower so at least $30 – $40 Million) not to mention levies, hook-up charges. school taxes, and let’s not forget all those property taxes from over 2,000 new residences paying taxes, that the City would have at least continue to maintain this “PUBLIC” property!
Disgusted by the degradation of my home and this being the eighth attempt at condo living, I (yes Mr. Condo) have given up all together on the concept of condo life, decided to find myself a detached home.
We found a million dollar pre-sale house in Oakville, an upscale residential community forty minutes west of Toronto.
It seemed like a “no-brainer“! A location second to none with the amenities that I will not compromise on. like easy walking access to restaurants and shops and the lake.
As things would have it, the houses are detached, but the road way is condominium so we would face a small monthly fee for snow-plowing, street lights, etc.
It’s called a POTL (“Parcels of Tied Lands“) giving each owner a collective ownership of the roadway thus introducing the Tarion Warranty Program.
All of that is fine with me, but records will show that once condo-ed, you have the same old developer traits introduced into your life.
These clowns that I ended up buying from have already proven worse than the pervious eight developers that we bought from.
Promises, promises, promises with no intention of honour, ethics of integrity. If it is not set out in the contract that you sign, disregard anything that you are promised, told or sold!
This obviously was not my first rodeo, and I asked all of the right questions (I have emails to prove all of this as I always expect to end up in court when dealing with Toronto area developers).
Specifically I wanted to know about appliances, countertops, flooring, so I detailed my questions clearly in email correspondence, not with the sales rep (I actually dealt directly with the C.E.O. of the development company – whom I will name shortly).
My questions about “below mount sinks and bathroom countertops” went unanswered with a promise that that information would follow shortly.
Well, like all verbal promises that I’ve ever been given by any developer, they never were answered. There is no such thing as a simple over-sight when dealing with developers.
And like I said, once your 10 Day Rescission Period is over, so is your communication with the developer.
Nine months later we finally got to pick our kitchen, although the developer gave no samples of flooring or countertops with which to match your cabinetry.
We still have not seen any standard finishes, even though our home has been delayed twice now!
We did mange to select our cabinetry but without knowing the colour of granite being used the selection of cabinetry is useless!
I was dismayed at the way the developer misrepresented the facts to me when buying. Lying is not a good foundation for any relationship especially when it involves over a million dollar purchase!
They told me that there was “only three home left” and within hours, on the day before Christmas last year when I bought the place announced that “they had only one lot remaining” and “it was a ‘premier lot’ requiring an additional $50.000“!
It didn’t take a whole lot of effort to discover that they were lying to me as I discovered that after my deal, they sold 6 lots to another developer!
So, they had seven lots when I came along and lied to me to upsell me by $50,000.
When I returned from Florida I contacted the developer and suggested that we meet and discuss what could eventually end up a legal matter regarding “entering into a contract under false representations“.
So I traveled all of the way up to Richmond Hill Ontario to the developers head office to meet and discuss my findings.
I told them that I was not interested in breaking and/or getting out of the deal despite their unethical and legally questionable handling of my sale and told them that I could actually help them become more professional and efficient by handling their sales for them.
After all, they obviously weren’t good at selling them if they had to wholesale 6 lots to another developer especially in such an excellent location!
I told them that I couldn’t help them unless they significantly changed their ways with respect to misrepresenting to clients!
I told them that, had I put any clients into their development I would be walking up one side of them and down the other by now, but with me in charge of sales, I would have sold all of these prime location homes without them having to give up 6 units (and they still had two units for sale at that time!)!
So nine months after buying this home and never having received the promised follow up on counter tops and sinks (amongst other things) I discover, buried in the fine print of our kitchen paperwork (from the supplier of the kitchens) that the countertops in the bathrooms are “LAMINATE“!
The developer had told me they were to be “stone” but that “he did not know exactly what brand (Ceasarstone, etc.)“.
Now, here’s the punchline and why I always tell my clients to read and understand their contract.
Under recent Tarion rules, developers now have to include in the contract an “Outside Occupancy Date” meaning the latest date by which the developer must deliver Occupancy or the buyer can cancel the deal.
We received two notices of delay (which is standard in this industry) but apparently the developer did not understand that an extended Occupancy Date falling outside of the Outside Occupancy Date set out in the Agreement, gave me the right to cancel the agreement.
Last month I received the third notice of delay which, you got it, fell decidedly outside of the Outside Occupancy Date.
Buyer have tight guidelines regarding notice, but the thumb-nail or Reader’s Digest explanation is that the day after or at any time within 30 days of the Outside Occupancy Date the buyer can give notice of intention to walk away from the deal (after 30 days the deal once again becomes “firm“).
I immediately notified them of my intention to walk away from the deal the day after the “Outside Occupancy Date” by delivering them Notice of my choice to execute my rights under the Tarion Warranty.
Now, all of a sudden, they hear me again!
I’m meeting with them on Monday and will update you on the outcome. I’m not publishing the name of this developer at this time as I want to give them every possible opportunity to remedy the disappointing way that they have conducted themselves so far.
Should they choose to continue to conduct themselves in the manner by which they have been so far, you will get full details here at simplycharles.com next week including the name of the developer so no-one else falls into their deceptive snare!
If you’ve got a nightmare story that you would like addressed, please email me at [email protected] as my global readers and investor clients appreciate the information and if enough of these nightmare stories are aired, possibly we can achieve some kind of levelling of the playing field here in Condo Land.