How to be sure that the off-plan apartment you have spotted meets your expectations and needs? One of the keys to success in the purchase of a new home: the quality of your exchange with the real estate developer. In this regard, the Law grants to purchasers the right of obtaining the most truthful and complete information possible on the nature and exact characteristics of the property being sold.
This obligation encompasses all the critical and relevant information concerning the immovable and the co-ownership. The information to be provided shall cover the private portion and the common portions of the building. You should act with the utmost care to ask for and obtain the required information to allow you to avoid disputes with your vendor (developer or builder).
Once you are satisfied that the developer or builder is truly a professional, you should ask him specific questions to avoid unpleasant surprises; before, during and after construction. In the case of an “off plan sale”, you must ensure that your condo will not be affected by an unforeseen delay of delivery.
Things could go wrong if, for example, the developer informs you that your apartment purchased “off plan” will not be delivered on time. This is a frequent occurrence in residential construction. There are many causes, such as: labor shortages, strikes or financing difficulties (construction loans), amongst many others.
Do not hesitate to discuss the matter of tardy deliveries with your developer. Try to convince him to insert a clause in the preliminary contract providing that you will be indemnified in the event of a late delivery. Consumers have been victimized by such delays when they had to find alternate premises on a temporary basis and put their personal belongings in storage, while waiting for their condo to be ready to move in.
Net superficial areas smaller than promised by your vendor are another source of potential conflict. For example, a kitchen, smaller than what was originally agreed upon (in the preliminary contract), may be a damper on your relationship with the vendor.
In order to clarify at the outset the matter of superficial areas, you should know the method used by your vendor to calculate them. You should insist that he supplies a detailed plan of the apartment, showing with the greatest precision possible the measurements and area of the apartment. Then, ask him, if the area is net or gross? In the case of the livable superficial area, does it represent the surface of the floor built after deduction of the area occupied by walls, doors, windows, demising walls and staircases? And what is to happen if the proposed building is altered during construction reducing the superficial area?
Are the materials used those specified?
Furthermore, the use of materials other than those chosen originally to build your apartment and extras that in the end are more expensive than specified in the preliminary contract may seriously annoy you!
Budgeted common expenses
During the promotional phase of the project, all developers must prepare a budget forecast of the first year of the co-ownership. This budget must show all foreseeable current expenses and those for the maintenance and the administration of common portions. Furthermore, this budget must include provisions for major repairs and the replacement of common portions at the end of their useful life (contingency fund).
You should therefore be wary of ridiculously low common expenses forecasted by unscrupulous developers, with the objective of facilitating their sales.
Finally, soundproofing of the apartments in a co-ownership is a crucial to your well-being. Noise is the number one annoyance in co-ownerships.
What is the meaning of wording such as “superior soundproofing” used by developers in their marketing documentation? To verify if such statements are sound and truthful, you should ask the following questions:
Were acoustical specifications prepared for the construction of the immovable?
Do they provide adequate soundproofing standards?
If this is the case, what are these specifications?
Can one consult and obtain a copy of the acoustical specifications of the immovable? And if not, why?
Was there an inspection carried out by an independent professional to certify the quality of the soundproofing?
If so, can one obtain a copy of the opinion of the independent professional?
Are there rules in the declaration of co-ownership related to the level of acoustical performance of the immovable?
If so, what are these rules?
Again, if you do not receive satisfactory answers to these specific questions, you should ponder if purchasing the condo is worth it. Remember, in most cases, you are at risk of being on your own in a dispute with your vendor.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW! Be insistent to get from the developer a detailed plan of the coveted apartment, and the method used to determine superficial areas. In order to prevent any potential conflict with a developer, you should always require a plan showing the measurements of the apartment with the best precision possible.
WHAT TO KEEP IN MIND: The calculation of the superficial area of an apartment will often become an issue when you will sell your apartment. It is therefore in the interest of both the purchaser and the developer to establish with precision its superficial area.
WARNING! It is in your best interest, before attending at the notary, to ask the developer for a copy of the certificate of location of your apartment. You will thereby be able to verify if the superficial area shown in the preliminary contract is similar to the one shown in the certificate of location.
CONSULT THE PUBLICATION: Purchase and sale of a condo: Everything you should know at pages 77 and following.