Not so long ago, I had my nephew visit me in Toronto. When I took him to see Downtown Toronto, he asked me something that I often get asked by my real estate clients,
“How long does it take to build one of those high-rise condominiums in Toronto?”
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Well, as I told him too, it takes time as there are many stages involved in condo development before it is ready for its residents. The pre-construction condo scene is taking Toronto by storm. Of all the cranes you see rising from our city’s skyline, 86% are attributed to residential towers and yet, it seems like we can’t complete a condo project fast enough.
In this blog, I’d like to break down the condo construction timeline and share what really happens in all the different stages of the condo construction process – from sales to occupancy. By the time you’re done with this blog, I hope that you have a better understanding of how the pre-construction condo industry works. The goal is to help you make informed investment decisions.
Stages Of Condo Construction Process: Sales, Construction, Occupancy & Registration
Typically, the condo construction process can be broken down into 4 separate stages:
Sales [friends & family, platinum launch, VIP launch & public launch]
Construction [excavation, structural, services, envelope, colour selection]
Occupancy [ready for residents, can lease units, occupancy fees, finishing amenities]
Registration [title transferred to buyers, mortgage begins, closing costs]
Before we look at what happens in each of these stages – in detail – let’s answer the question that we opened this blog with.
How Long Does It Take To Build A Condominium In Toronto?
It may take about three to four years for your pre-construction condo to complete but you’d have earned significant equity by the time the condo assignment is complete! This timeline is not definite and it differs from project to project and from developer to developer.
Pre-Construction Sales Phase
During the pre-construction stage, a condo developer needs funds to build. To raise these funds, units are sold before construction begins. Ideally, a developer will try and sell at least 70% revenue of the building — meaning they can’t sell only small units during this presale phase. Lenders usually require 70% of the revenue of the entire building to be sold prior to financing being approved.
The pre-construction sales occur in different phases starting with a friends and family launch and ultimately culminating in a public launch.
Friends & Family
Developers first offer their pre construction units to their own friends and family. No need to take this personally. Put yourself in their shoes. After all, everyone loves a friend and family discount!
During the platinum stage, condo developers will reach out to a select group of preferred real estate agents giving them first access to all units that weren’t purchased by the developer’s friends or family. This phase offers the lowest purchase price that the condo project will see.
Not only is the platinum stage an exclusive and highly secretive affair but it often has many home buyer incentives that vary from project to project. If you can buy with a Platinum Agent, not only will you save big but you get dibs while selecting your floor plan!
As a Platinum Agent, we always strive to get our clients the best possible units, whether they will serve as an investment or a future home. The phases of pre-construction move quite quickly and the Platinum Prices are for a limited time only.
- Interested buyers are asked to submit a “wish list” of three to five floor plans to their agent.
- Using the wish lists of our clients, we advocate for their preferred units.
- The developer will allocate units to their Platinum Agents.
The faster we move, the better our chances are of getting our clients their preferred units. Check out our Steps to Purchase infographic for a full breakdown of this pre-construction phase.
During the VIP stage, any pre construction condo unit that was not purchased during the platinum stage, along with some suites the developer may have held back, are made available to interested real estate agents and their clients. By this stage, most of the desirable units have already been allocated and you can expect unit prices to be marginally higher.
The last stage of the pre-construction sales phase is the public launch. Interested home buyers can buy directly from the developer’s sales center without needing any assistance from a real estate agent or broker. Condos are typically priced higher during the public launch phase. Depending on the demand, the popular pre construction units often sell out before reaching the final public launch phase.
What’s The Benefit Of Investing In A Condo During Its Pre-Construction Phase?
Unique Deposit Structure: One of the major advantages of buying a pre-construction condo is its deposit schedule which is spread over a long period of time. The deposit is split over 3 installments, making it easy for potential home buyers to cover their payments, as opposed to a 20-25% lump sum amount that needs more financial preparedness.
The affordability and flexibility offered by pre-construction condo investments are incomparable. While deposit structures will vary from project to project, you’ll typically pay $5,000 when you sign your Agreement of Purchase and Sale. This is typically followed by three installments of 5% of your balance over the course of the first year with no more payments due until occupancy.
Now compare this to the financing required to buy a resale unit where you’ll need a 20% down payment. These days many developers are even offering “extended deposit structures” where instead of having three installments of 5% over the course of the first year, it can be spread out over the next 2-4 years until occupancy.
These types of offers are available when you purchase a pre-construction unit with a Platinum Broker like myself. We’ve been working in the Real Estate industry for years now and have spent years building relationships with the region’s top builders and developers. This means that our clients get to be the first in line to get promotional packages, floor plans, and price lists.
Opportunity to improve one’s economical situation: Pre-construction condos offer a great opportunity to an owner whose financial condition is not very sound but is likely to improve in the future. While you wait for your condo to be built, you have time to budget and save money for when your mortgage kicks in three to four years later. So while the condo is being readied, buyers can improve their economic situation. Once you’ve put your deposit down on a pre-construction condo in Toronto, you will be given 10 days’ time to rethink your decision. This is known as the “cooling off” period. You are given this time to get your finances in order and be 100% sure about your purchase. It’s also important to get your Agreement of Purchase and Sale reviewed by your lawyer during this time.
Leverage Equity Gains: On average, Toronto’s condo market increases on by about 5% per year though presently, that number is slightly skewed. While you wait to take ownership of your condo, it is actually gaining significant equity. Even before you get possession or move in – your investment automatically appreciates in value!
Construction Or Building Phase
During the second phase of pre-construction, the developers build and you sit back. For investors or home buyers, there is little work to be done during this phase of pre-construction – except ensuring that your cheques cash.
As we mentioned, developers want to sell at least 70% of their units ahead of construction. So depending on how long it takes to sell the building, this may put a minor delay in the timeline between the pre-construction sales and construction phases.
Your real estate agent will know which developers have better reputations for sticking to their projected timeline. Much of the delays today are due to red tape at the city level. It often takes much longer for a project to be fully approved, than it does to sell out. In case you’ve found a condo project that excites you but you aren’t sure how to take the next steps, you can always book a call with me or somebody from my team.
First step in the construction stage is excavation. Once the developer decides to break the soil it takes about one full year to fully excavate the site. This takes roughly one-third of the overall construction time and it’s here that the foundation is laid and the underground parking is built.
Build Structural Components
Once the building reaches grade, the structural components are built floor by floor. This includes the condo tower, frame, beams, columns, and floor slabs. This process can climb at about one floor per week in most cases. By opting for pre construction condos, owners get to enjoy homes built according to the latest design concepts and cutting-edge construction techniques and elements.
As the upper floors continue to rise, the inner workings of the building’s lower floors are being added. This includes the utilities from water to electricity. Once the inner services are good the drywall is added and they move on to the next floor.
The exterior finishes begin from the lower levels up. This includes the cladding, windows, and balconies. It’s when these finishes start to appear that you get a better sense of the overall look the condo will have on completion.
About one year prior to occupancy the condo developer will reach out to their purchasers for colour and finish selection so they can start customizing the interior suites.
Each development will allow you to choose from a variety of colours and finishes offered. You can select your finishes and even upgrades, based on your taste and preferences. It will help avoid future revamping or remodeling projects that are not only expensive but also require a lot of time and attention. Besides, the customizations, if chosen properly, can further increase the value of your home.
Not sure what finishes you prefer or what choices would be best for resale on your investment? Book a call now and we will help you select them for you as a value-add service.
The third phase of pre construction condo development is called the interim occupancy period. It’s at interim occupancy that you are able to move in or begin leasing your condo. Keep in mind that interim occupancy on lower floors will begin sooner than those on higher floors as they are being completed. While the building is ready for occupants there are still areas of the building that are being completed such as amenities and common spaces.
Interim Occupancy Financials
During the interim occupancy phase of pre-construction, you will begin paying occupancy fees because you haven’t yet taken possession of the property but the builder is allowing you to occupy it. Occupancy fees include condo fees, property taxes, and the interest portion of your mortgage.
Purchasers who are using their pre-construction condos as investments will need to pay HST upfront to a maximum of $24,000. Your HST is owed when the building registers with the city, typically three to eight months after interim occupancy. Your lawyer can file for a full HST rebate, refunded approximately 4 to 6 weeks later, provided you have a one-year lease in place.
The fourth phase of pre-construction condos is registration. Typically three to eight months after interim occupancy (depending on the floor) the building is registered with the city and the title is transferred to your name. It’s at this phase that closing costs are due and will include Land Transfer Tax, development charges, legal expenses, and HST if owing.
It’s at this phase that your mortgage kicks in so your occupancy fees now include the principal portion of your mortgage. The developer will provide minimum 21 days notice before registration so be sure to have all of your finances in order to cover your closing costs and mortgage payments.
While it may take three to four years for your pre-construction condo to complete, you’ll have earned significant equity as it does. Ask your realtor for your new condo’s current market value to see how much equity you’ve earned. It may not be long before you’re able to start using that equity to purchase another pre-construction condo and start developing a Real Estate Investment Portfolio.