Montreal: Buying Pre-Construction Condos Tips
(5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Buying a Condo)

Having been through a number of pre-construction condo purchases in Montreal (one example is Canvar's Condos VUE project among others), I feel that it would help a lot of people to share my real-life experience to fellow Montrealers (and anyone else) also going down that path.

5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Buying a Condo

I tried to avoid the typical things that other articles may say, so based on my own personal experience here's a list of things that would have been good to know before taking the jump into unknown condo territory.

Tip #1: Know the Pre-Construction Condo Risks

Buying a pre-construction condo carries all kinds of risks. It's all based on trust. You basically have to trust the developer to deliver what they say they will deliver, possibly years before you see anything concrete.

Seems obvious in hindsight, but I wish I had asked myself this before: "Would you completely trust hundreds of thousands of dollars to a condo developer you hardly know, and for something that doesn't yet exist?"

Condo Models: If you are lucky you may get a model of your condo building

Tip #2: Beware the Salesman

Salesmen are salesmen, and those that sell condos are no different. I've learned first hand that they will say anything, and I do mean anything...Including in your face lies. Generally salesman who are not on commission will be truthful with you.

This is not just me ranting, these are the same lies that have been repeated many times and have been confirmed by other neighboring condo buyers that I have spoken to.

For example: "The building next door is for rentals only, not condos", is a lie to cover up the fact that a competitor is building new condos right next to their own project.

Tip #3: Be Ready for No Information (or Lack of Transparency)

Developers reserve the right to change things as they see fit. If you are buying off a floor plan years before construction starts, expect the project to change. I repeat, plans WILL change from the time you buy a floor plan to the time you inspect your condo.

That's expected you might say, but the best part is that a developer will make relatively major changes without your knowledge; even if it somehow negatively impacts your condo unit. Again this lack of transparency has been confirmed by neighboring condo buyers and not just based off my own experience.

For example: Building an exit structure right outside your window, blocking the view to any garden/green spaces that were verbally promised/advertised when you purchased the condo.

Tip #4: Expect Nothing From the Condo Developer

When there's a dispute, the condo developer is not your friend, especially after money exchanges hands. Not surprisingly, the developer's salesman who was so nice to you before, will leave you to fend for yourself.

I've faced off with developers who have gotten into swearing F-bomb engagements, believe it or not. (For what it's worth I've never swore at a developer when a dispute arises, I've tried to keep calm and cool in these tense situations...Swearing doesn't get you anywhere in my opinion.)

For example: Let's say, a structure is built right outside your window (and without your knowledge). They'll actually say it's your fault for not knowing about it earlier (which is hard to do without any transparency see Tip #3).

Condo developers essentially have a "buyer beware" policy. You have 45 days to return furniture back to IKEA, but spend a quarter million dollars or more for a condo, and you are on your own the second you sign off at your notary (or lawyer depending where you live).

Tip #5: Don't Trust Condo Developers

This is probably the most important rule. No matter how professional and nice the salesmen/women are they are just an extension of the developer's will...Which is to make as much money as they can. When things don't turn out as promised, clients end up fighting with the developer; but developers don't really care about you anymore, since they already have your money.

Too Many Unknowns

In my experience, at the end of the day there are too many risks and unknowns involved in buying a pre-construction condo. Sure many people have been lucky and already made great profits with their condos, but that's not the point of this post. It's about trust. Everything is based on trusting the developer...And trust cannot be earned unless you've dealt with a specific developer before. For that reason, I will never be buying a pre-contruction condo again. Buy what you can see, not what is on paper. Live and learn.

Update: Click here to read the post of my latest pre-construction condo purchase. (Note: Page link is no longer available)

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