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Buying a Condominium

What should I know before I buy?

Before you buy a condominium unit, you should get copies of the declaration, bylaws, common elements rules, the reserve fund status certificate, the estoppel certificate, and the audited financial statements and review them. Besides the questions common to the purchase of any property, you should know the answers to the following:

  • Does the declaration prohibit any particular occupation or use of the units? Common examples are the prohibition of pets and of conducting a business from the unit.
  • Is the project registered as a condominium corporation? If not, when is registration anticipated?
  • How many of the units are sold? Owner occupied? Rented?
  • If the unit is presently occupied by a tenant, how much notice to quit is required by the Residential Tenancies Act?
  • Has a reserve fund study been conducted? Is the corporation's budget and financial status in keeping with the recommendations of the study?
  • What is the reserve fund balance?
  • Are any major renovations or repairs anticipated?
  • How much are the common elements fees? What expenses do they cover?
  • Is the corporation self-managed or managed by a professional management company?

What is an agreement of purchase and sale?

This is an agreement between the purchaser and the seller of property that states the specific terms of the purchase. In most cases, a standard agreement form for condominiums is provided by the Nova Scotia Real Estate Commission.

Before you sign any agreement of purchase and sale, take it to your lawyer to review its terms and the provisions of the documents to make sure that you are properly informed and your rights are protected.

What should the agreement contain?

If the agreement concerns a proposed unit or if the declarant (developer) is the vendor, it should include:

  • a copy of the survey plans showing the perimeters of the land and building(s)
  • the shape, boundaries, and location of the unit, and the common elements
  • a copy of the declaration, bylaws, and common elements rules
  • and other requirements as shown in Section 75(1) of the Condominium Act Regulations. 

If the unit is incomplete, your agreement should include confirmation of the completion date.

If the unit is not yet registered, specify that your offer is based on the documents (draft declaration and description) forming part of your agreement of purchase and sale and is conditional upon the registration of the unit under the Condominium Act before the closing date.

If the unit is in a phased-registration development, you should receive information in addition to the above noted, including:

  • a description of the overall plan of the development
  • a statement that the declarant is not required to create any other phases
  • a statement setting out the estimated registration dates of subsequent phases
  • a statement that sets out, for each anticipated phase, the approximate location of the buildings/structures, the approximate number of units, the proportions of ownership, voting and contributions to common elements expense fees that exist for each unit after the phase is registered, and a schedule of when any common facilities will be available

If you are interested in a resale unit, make sure that your offer is conditional upon you receiving an estoppel certificate (see the definitions).

What if I change my mind after signing an agreement?

Consult your lawyer. If the unit is a new one and the agreement is between you and the declarant, you are entitled to receive information about the survey, design plans of the condominium, the declaration, bylaws, and common elements rules and regulations of the corporation. You have ten days, during which you may change your mind if anything contained in these documents materially affects your enjoyment of the property and you and the vendor are unable or unwilling to rectify the matter or waive the objection. You must rescind your offer in writing and it must be in the hands of the vendor within the ten-day "cooling off" period. This will make your agreement null and void.