Today I thought I would just discuss the overall life experience being lived by a group of real estate purchasers/consumers in Oakville who bought into a pre-construction “POTL” (Parcel of Tied lands – a type of “condo“).
A couple years back, with the logistical practicality of investing in Condoland spiralled out of whack, and while scouring all over the globe for real estate investments I found, on the Internet this intimate cluster of just 18 new (to-be-built) luxury homes in a location that I could only have dreamt of buying into.
I had become so disillusioned with living six months of the year amongst Americans, in a State (Florida) with “stand your ground” license to shoot and kill.
When you match that ridiculous law with your typical “Republican” intellect (I don’t mean to pick on Republicans but really! They are the most radical group of people that I’ve ever come across) and/or mentality, and you are as outspoken as I am about so many things, toxic mixes like those two elements significantly shift the “risk factor” against me, so I sold our winter home.
I was considering retiring in Mexico and really like the Mayan Riviera just south of Cancun on your way to Belize, so my wife brought two beautiful Mexican Chihuahuas into our home (I got the message).
So, sitting in Boca Raton Florida I found a similar investment opportunity in London Ontario but during my due diligence via Skype, with the developer I discovered that he really didn’t know what he was doing and had not worked out his plan.
He had actually bought the site from someone else and really wasn’t even familiar with his own product. I see his Listings still sitting there (2 years later) so my read was right on the mark (actually it was my wife’s read on him – we have always been business partners).
So when I came across this entirely new street of high end detached homes, two of my wishes came true. One was to find a quality investment and two to transition from downtown Toronto townhouse living to somewhere else in a detached home.
So, then pops up this opportunity so I bought the only remaining lot off of the phone without even seeing it.
After four decades of day to day condo experience I’ve never come across a deal or a contract that I couldn’t work myself out of if necessary, and with this location, if I only flipped the place it would be an excellent money maker.
The average home in the immediate area runs in the $1.5 Million range and these were materially underpriced!
So we spent Christmas 2014 (I found it the day before Christmas) buying this site unseen investment digitally over the Internet.
It wasn’t hard to understand why they had only one remaining lot left.
Not only has this one proven to be an extreme case study on everything wrong in Ontario real estate today, it has proven downright bazaar!
It has actually been extremely entertaining and actually fun, constantly renegotiating with this inexperienced builder who was lying to me about how many units were available, and literally everything else that has come up along the way.
He had told me over the phone that there was only one Lot left and it was a premier lot requiring an additional $50k and I was fine with that.
I later discovered that he actually couldn’t sell these homes and had bulk sold off ten of them to other builders.
I just couldn’t believe it as I could have sold out the entire collection of home in under a month and I told him that the first time I met him face to face!
He’s a guy that doesn’t seek or get professional help.
The chaos surround building these homes is like watching the Keystone Cops (I’m dating myself here as they were even before my time but I remember as a kid watching black and white television shows of this inept police force bumble and stumble their way through law enforcement).
As long as you get my drift, you’ll know that the building and delivery of this house has been entertaining to say the least.
What hasn’t been entertaining is to watch how the first wave of this particular builder’s buyers have been abused, both physically, as well as mentally for going on a year now.
The Town of Oakville had its lawyers prepare the Subdivision Agreement between the Municipality and the Developer (Fernbrook Homes).
The Developer chose not to build the home and sold the rights to sell and build the homes to this Builder, who in turn sold off half of them to two other builders (it has been rumoured that they are all related and moreso sons of a wealthy middle eastern guy who gave all of his sons a bunch of cash and wished them on their way).
I have no idea and I couldn’t really care less, and if you’ve read my blog for the past quarter century you’ll know my foundation mission statement: “believe NOTHING that you hear and HALF of what you see“!
Each Builder drew up independent Sales Agreements between them and their buyers.
The Subdivision Agreement, (despite my continued requests for it as it was “referred to” in our Agreement of Purchase and Sale which required under law that it be attached to and form a part of our AP&S) was NOT given to any of the buyers.
After a year of requesting, asking for, and then demanding it, I got into my car and drove from downtown Toronto to Richmond Hill to their head office and sat in the board room and told them I “wasn’t leaving without the Subdivision Agreement“.
I’m real good with contracts and it took all of about ten seconds for me to discover why this key document had been withheld (intentionally obviously because of clause 39).
This clause uniquely (in this industry) said that “there would be no Occupancy until all grading, paving, landscaping, fencing was completed“.
The condo portion (POTL) consists of the road, curbs, sidewalk, lights, etc.
Amazingly, the POTL somehow got “Registered” before the road was even completed and before many buyers bought!
Talk about a dysfunctional process!
If that were the case then buyers should have been given “Status Certificates” on each Unit when they Closed (there is usually an “Occupancy Period“).
And the entire house of cards cut loose from there, no “Turn Over Meeting“, no Condo Corporation Board of Directors, no Maintenance Fees, no Reserve Fund Contributions, no Reserve Fund Study . . . . nothing!
And despite that unique Clause 13 in the Subdivision Agreement, somehow the Municipality chose to issue “Occupancy Permits” contradicting the Subdivision Agreement and thereby stripping the buyers of their legal rights!
Once the builder gets that Occupancy Permit in their hands, they can impose Occupancy on the buyer.
Yes this is all usually alleged to be legal, but not in this instance as the Subdivision Agreement clearly set out what can and cannot be done.
Take a look at today’s photos (above) as this is the condition that the entire street sits in today.
I’ve written about all of this at length and if you’d like more details, just search “Oakville” in the search field on the home screen of simplycharles.com and each and every article will come up (you’ll find it entertaining reading for sure).
Some of the buyers were forced to Close (and thereby take occupancy – they don’t actually have to occupy the house but they have to pay for it and assume all liability and responsibility for it as their own private property) as early as last December (2015).
Take another look at today’s photograph and tell me that you could live in this type of mess for a year!
If your answer to yourself is “No” or if you get that same rush of adrenaline that I do when you see others being so viciously abused, then you get what I’m talking about and say “Hell No“!
Something has to change.
In this instance, there was adequate legal protection but that protection was hidden from the buyers by a builder that would not, did not make it available to the buyers.
That in itself is a legal breach of fiduciary.
I’m trying to spearhead this change but I can tell you that the resistance is horrendous.
The Federal Government doesn’t want to touch it as all those income tax dollars are depended upon.
The Provincial Government doesn’t want to touch it as they are hooked on all those jobs the building industry delivers.
The Municipal Government doesn’t want to touch it as they are hooked on all those Building Permit Fees, property taxes, hook-up charges, school levies and all.
Now I’ve got to say that I have been extremely impressed with the diligence and over site that I’ve seen in Oakville.
I met with the Mayor and his chief council, who immediately called a group meeting with the developer, and all three builders, inspectors, etc. and told them all to get things done and immediately we saw some changes taking place.
But that was a couple months back and today’s photograph shows that the mess, with certain window dressing has persisted.
The system itself is corrupt in Ontario.
There needs to be an independent agency to legitimately protect consumers but no-one want it.
I thought this dysfunction was limited to downtown Toronto Condoland where not even the investors care if they are getting fleeced because they’ll make money regardless (they just pass on the nightmare to end-user buyers in the form of Assignments anyway).
So I’m sending the Mayor’s office a link to today’s blog in the hope that they will do whatever it is they can do to get these builders and developer to uphold their legal and moral obligation to the people that they have so abused, to at minimum do what they have promised to do and what they are legally obligated to do which is to “clean the streets when people occupy new homes”!