Toronto Condos -- Buyers Beware

The ownership of condos in Toronto has been declining. Condo sales have decreased by thirty four percent in one year. Is more than required construction of condos responsible for this trend? Today we find that tall cranes fill up Toronto’s horizon. The population of these cranes is almost double compared to other North American cities. Fresh projects are coming up. This situation clearly brings out the inherent feature of private sectors which is to create over jealous hypes regarding the sentiments of a new market. Frank Zappa has rightfully said, “Art is making something out of nothing, and selling it”. 

Or, can we assume that condo buyers are becoming increasingly aware of the numerous responsibilities that come along with condo ownership?

Till now, many naive buyers have been motivated by this overhyped market. The Canadian Urban Institute meeting had provided necessary information for purchasing new condos. The meeting was held at the Ryerson Ted Rogers School of Management, Dundas St. W. on 28th of September 2012. “Density Redux: Can Condo Communities Avoid the Fate of Toronto Towers?” was the topic in the forum. The condos had flourished from 1950 to 1970 but they were rental in nature. Frank Lloyd’s comment “New York is a great monument to the power of money and greed...a race for rent” makes a lot of sense in this case.

Ottawa witnessed its first condo in 1967. The originally constructed towers are now growing old. Material as well as management problems are increasing in most of these aging towers. Community development is an important aspect where condos have failed to deliver. These problems are being raised now in the center town area where new towers with numerous condos are coming up. “Condo Ownership Facts” is one of the prime topics that is being discussed in several media channels. Actually, after the condo purchase is completed, the developer walks away. Then, he shoulders the responsibilities with all the necessary documentation procedures to a volunteer condo board which is elected. 

Repetitive conflicts between buyers and the condo board governance can be a persistent problem. Inexperienced board members may be weak in assessment and management. Often the management is handed over to another company, which may have inadequate competence in handling all the day to day issues. It is important to note that investors have taken hold over a stupefying percentage of condo sales Downtown. These investors have rented out their condos. Most of them are either settled overseas or are local speculators.

Their absenteeism causes a lot of problem in the annual general condo meetings. The local speculators are interested to minimize the operating costs for a short term. Many condo boards may not provide sufficient funds for vital maintenance related issues and other important requirements. We also find increasing number of legal cases being fought between several condo boards and developers regarding condo construction issues. The provincial Ministry of consumer services is taking action against this growing problem. The ministry started its evaluation from this August and will submit a report by 2013 end. 

Now, private developers are more interested in selling the units. Rental housing involves long-term maintenance costs. The developers easily pass such responsibilities onto the shoulders of the new condo buyers. Small sized condo units, called studios which are expensive and being constructed in huge numbers are meant for single person accommodation. This creates serious hurdles in community building which is the backbone for a stable progressive society.


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