Buying condos completely online is a trend that is here to stay.
One of the most significant differences between the pre-construction condo market and the resale condo market is that the former is based on the purchase of products that do not exist yet. Whereas the latter is obviously the sale of a tangible product - a condo you can see and touch.
Meaning that buyers in the pre-con market are familiar with connecting with Platinum Access Agents who guide them through neighbourhood stats, floor plans, and price lists via email, telephone and video call communications before purchasing a unit. It is also possible that you’ll only meet with the agent once or twice. In this industry, there are no showings of multiple condo units, and it is not absolutely necessary to meet your agent in person. Given the predicament within Ontario, social distancing is still mandatory, which fortunately does not change a whole lot when it comes to buying a pre-construction condo.
In fact, purchasing a pre-construction condo completely online is a service that has been around for many years. Overseas or simply out-of-town buyers have been readily taking advantage of this service to purchase investment properties, especially in Toronto's hot pre-con market.
Traditionally, when clients are ready to buy, they meet with their Platinum Access Agent at the presentation centre to learn more about the project, often fill out a worksheet, and then later sign an Agreement of Purchase and Sale (APS). Now, given the circumstances around COVID-19 and social distancing mandates, the trend of buying a pre-construction condo online has only accelerated.
For a long time, the difference in buying styles may have been linked to generational preferences between baby boomers, who may be less likely to embrace this method of home buying and investing, and millennials, who often want options that are more convenient, more efficient, and involve fewer interactions with people.
For prospective buyers, technology can help all parties involved make the best use of their time by streamlining the process and interaction, especially while navigating the "new normal" called social distancing.
The step-by-step process of buying a pre-construction condo completely online:
- Once the project launches, your Platinum Access Agent will provide you with a worksheet to secure a unit. If necessary, you and your agent can go through the worksheet together.
- For the developer to verify the worksheet as valid, the developer will require a photograph of your government-issued ID alongside a personal cheque or a piece of mail showing your address.
- Each developer's deposit amount at this phase is different, but a photo of a cheque made out in the required amount will also be required along with the items in Step 2.
- Your agent will now submit your worksheet to the developer on your behalf.
- From here, the developer will confirm your allocation, meaning that your worksheet has been approved and an APS (Agreement of Purchase and Sale) will be drafted in your name. At this time, you will have 48 hours (this timeline varies depending on the developer) to submit the cheque photographed in Step 3.
- Once the developer is in possession of all of the deposit cheques, your APS will be emailed to you through a computer application called DocuSign.
- Your agent can walk you through the APS signing process via the video communication application Zoom.
- Your 10-day "cooling off" period begins. Within these 10 business days, you are legally allowed to change your mind without penalty. If you decide to back out of your purchase during this period, you will receive your full deposit back.
- Again this timeline may vary depending on the developer, but most often, mortgage approvals must be provided to the developer within 30 days from signing your APS.
If this sounds simply impossible, all is not lost for those who prefer in-person signings. By booking an appointment through your agent, you can sign your APS through DocuSign (on an iPad) at the presentation centre.
While the COVID-19 pandemic put a damper on pre-construction condo activity in the initial stages of the lockdown, the numbers from summer 2020 onwards show activity has come roaring back. By using technologies like Zoom and DocuSign, buyers see how easy and seamless it is to buy pre-construction condos completely online.