Condo Purchase Checklist for Toronto Buyers

| Buying

Planning on buying a condo in Toronto? Here’s a useful condo purchase checklist that can help buyers with their buying process.

Real estate terminology is notoriously difficult to understand. As a result, many condo buyers feel anxious about signing paperwork. They worry about agreeing to hidden terms and conditions—a fear that can make the home-buying process more difficult than it has to be.

Including home-buying conditions in your contract can protect you from some of the risks associated with purchasing a condo. Unfortunately, they can also repel sellers, turning them into major obstacles.

In this post, I’ll define the three most common conditions, explain how they can reduce your condo-buying risk, and explain why it’s sometimes best to waive them.

Here’s what condo buyers need to know about home-buying conditions…


What are home-buying conditions?

A home-buying condition is a clause in your purchase contract. It states that if a certain event occurs, your contract will be considered null and void. In other words, it allows you to back out of a transaction under certain circumstances. For condo buyers, here are three of the most common conditions.


1) Inspection Conditions

Many of the fears my clients encounter during the condo hunt have to do with future repairs. Who wants to buy a unit and have the HVAC system break down two months later? To reduce such risks, some homebuyers opt to include an inspection condition in their contract.

An inspection condition provides a brief window of time where a buyer can have a professional inspection performed on the unit they’re purchasing. If any major flaws are discovered, they can back out of the deal.

Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, there’s a catch—and it’s a big one. In Toronto’s competitive market, insisting on an inspection could cost you the condo of your dreams. When there are many buyers vying for the same unit, sellers will opt for the offer that suits them best. And if you’re asking for time to perform an inspection, it probably won’t be yours.

The good news is, in most cases, an inspection really isn’t necessary—especially if the unit you’re looking at is under 25 years old. Regardless of age, most issues that you’ll encounter as an owner will be covered by your condo corporation.


2) Financing conditions

It’s one of the most common questions I get from clients: what happens if my financing falls through after I’ve agreed to buy a condo? The answer depends on whether your contract contains a financing condition.

Let’s say you’re pre-approved for a mortgage. You start hunting for a condo, find the perfect unit, and enter into a contract to buy it. Everything is good. And then… the lender has the condo appraised. According to the appraiser, the unit is worth less than you’ve already agreed to pay for it. In many cases, you’ll now qualify for less financing than you expected.

If you don’t have a financing condition, you’ll be left with two options. Make up the difference, or fail to do so and lose both the condo and the deposit you’ve put down. In contrast, a financing condition would allow you to walk away from the deal without financial penalty.

Of course, this clause won’t eliminate your responsibilities as a buyer. You’ll have to take reasonable steps toward obtaining your financing for your condition to be valid.

I should also stress that, like an offer without an inspection condition, an offer that doesn’t contain a financing condition is attractive to sellers. Most buyers can waive this condition without putting themselves in financial peril—and doing so is definitely worth considering, especially in a competitive situation.


3) Condo document review conditions

It may sound obvious, but buying a condo is very different than buying a detached house. A unit exists in a shared building. That building is run by a condo board. It has a history—or, if it’s newly constructed, the builder may have a pre-existing reputation. It will have rules and regulations that unit owners must abide by, and fees they have to pay. The building may be financially healthy, and it may not be.

There are many elements of condo living that you don’t have control over, which is why it’s so important to know what you’re getting into before you buy.

To make an informed purchase, you need to have access to all relevant documents pertaining to your prospective unit and building. A condo document review condition will give you a set period of time to look over this paperwork.

Make sure your lawyer carefully reviews all documentation, and pay special attention to the status certificate. Your status certificate will include bylaws and rules, maintenance-fee information, the budget for your condo corporation, and more.

While I can’t overstate the importance of understanding all relevant information related to your prospective unit, you should know that most sellers expect the process to move quickly. To make the sale more convenient for all involved, be ready to have your lawyer review your status certificate immediately.


Waiving your conditions

When the market is hot, you may find yourself competing with several potential buyers for the unit of your dreams. You’ll want to ensure that your offer stands out—and waiving your home-buying conditions is one way to do that.

Think of it from the seller’s perspective. Forgoing an inspection can lead to a quicker, more convenient sale. And doing away with a financing condition will allow them to keep your deposit if you have to back out of the deal due to a rejected mortgage application.

Waiving your conditions can make you more attractive to sellers, but you shouldn’t do so lightly. Working closely with your real estate agent can help ensure that you make an informed decision.


Looking to buy a condo in Toronto? I can answer your questions. You can either call/text me at 416-500-5360 or send me an email at and ask away!