It is highly recommended that you consult with real estate experts before you buy a condo. Experts like lawyers, real estate agents, and document review companies can help you find the property that’s right for you and make sure all important documents are reviewed and assessed to prevent you from major headaches in the future.
Select an expert below to learn more about how they can help.
Real Estate Professionals
Real estate professionals can help you buy or sell your condominium unit. Some professionals may have a practice that specializes in buying and selling condominiums (as opposed to other kinds of properties). It is recommended that you interview a few different real estate professionals before hiring one. Consult the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s Questions to Ask a Real Estate Agent before your interviews.
In Alberta, real estate professionals can work for the seller, the buyer or both. It is important to understand what kind of relationship you will have with your real estate professional. For more information about the different kinds of relationships that exist in Alberta, visit the Real Estate Council of Alberta (RECA).
Real estate professionals can help you find a property that suits your needs and budget and assist you with filling out standard form agreements. However, real estate professionals cannot provide any services that require discretion or judgment, cannot give confidential advice, and cannot advocate on your behalf. All real estate professionals are required to enter into a written service agreement with you outlining the services they will be providing, their responsibilities, and their fees.
All real estate professionals in Alberta must be licensed by the RECA. You can check a real estate professional’s licence status by searching RECA’s licensing database.
If you run into any challenges in working with your real estate professional, you should talk to them about your concerns. Open, honest communication is key to a healthy working relationship. If you are unable to resolve the issue through talking with your professional, you may want to consider contacting their broker to discuss the problem. If you cannot reach a satisfactory resolution with the professional or broker, you may be able to file a complaint with RECA.
RECA has produced a comprehensive Guide to Complaints that outlines the dispute resolution options available if you have a problem with your real estate professional.
If you think you’re working with an unlicensed real estate professional, read RECA’s Guide to Complaints Related to Unauthorized Practice.
Depending on the nature of the problem, you may want to seek legal advice.
If you are buying a condominium, you should hire a lawyer as early as possible to assist you in the purchase process. Interview a few different lawyers before hiring one. Ask questions about their experience, areas of practice, and costs (for sample questions, see Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s Questions to Ask a Lawyer). Ensure that the lawyer you hire practices real estate law and ideally, has expertise in condominium law. A knowledgeable, experienced real estate lawyer will be able to answer all of your questions about buying and owning a condominium.
Lawyers can help you with the following tasks:
- Collecting and reviewing documents (i.e. bylaws, estoppel certificate, etc.)
- Reviewing and explaining purchase agreement or contract
- Reviewing the certificate of title and identifying any issues (i.e. caveats, easements, etc.)
- Reviewing and explaining the mortgage agreement
- Transferring ownership from the seller to buyer
All practicing lawyers in Alberta must have an active membership with the Law Society of Alberta. You can check a lawyer’s membership status by searching the Law Society of Alberta’s lawyer directory.
If you run into any challenges in working with your lawyer, you should talk to them about your concerns. Open, honest communication is key to a healthy working relationship.
If you’re unable to resolve your issue, you may able to file a complaint with the Law Society of Alberta. For more information on what type of complaints the Law Society will investigate, visit their website or read their Complaint and Inquiry Guideline.
Document Review Companies
Document review companies will conduct an objective review of the condominium documents you receive before you buy. A document reviewer will explain what the documents mean and highlight any potential issues you should be aware of before you buy. Document review companies can be used in addition to lawyers but their services are not intended to be a substitute for legal advice and review of documents.
In Alberta, there is no official licensing process for document reviewers. It is important to ask lots of questions before you hire a document reviewer or company. Ask about their background, experience and education. Don’t be afraid to ask them to provide customer references. You can also check your local Better Business Bureau to see if the company has had any complaints filed against it.
If you have any difficulties with your document review company, you should talk to them about your concerns. If you’re unable to resolve the issue through dialogue, you may want to file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau and/or seek legal advice about your options.
Home inspectors can be hired to assess the physical condition of the condominium and identify any issues you should be aware of before you buy. Generally, since the reserve fund report addresses issues with common property, a condominium home inspection is limited to the unit itself. It is important to know what is part of the condominium unit and what is common property so that the home inspector conducts a complete inspection.
For more information, read Service Alberta’s booklet Hiring a Home Inspector.
In Alberta, home inspectors must have a licence from the Government of Alberta. You can check to see if a home inspector or home inspection business is licensed by searching Service Alberta’s database or calling 1-877-427-4088.
If you have any difficulties with your home inspector, you should talk to him or her about your concerns. If you cannot reach a resolution, you may be able to file a complaint with Service Alberta. You may also want to seek legal advice about your options, depending on the seriousness of the issue.