What a difference seven months can make. Back in February, the new Manitoba Condominium Act was introduced. As is often the case with anything new, especially a legislated act loaded with a host of new regulations, the transition from old regulations to new was marked by uncertainty — from sellers, to buyers to lawyers and even REALTORS®, who have done their best to prepare for the comprehensive new act.
And while the learning curve associated with absorbing all the nuances of the new act hasn’t disappeared entirely, it now appears that the process is going significantly more smoothly.
“Everything is going better,” said Realtor Elliot Didomenicantonio. “Because everyone has been dealing with the act for better than six months, their eyes are more wide-open, from buyers to sellers to agents.”
Realtor Charlene Urbanski concurred. “At first, the process was a bit sketchy — management companies were slow in getting us the documents we needed. But as time has gone on, things have seemed to ironed themselves out, more or less. I haven’t encountered any problems in the last little while.”
She said earlier problems have gone by the wayside as her familiarity with the act increased. Now, with a firm grasp of all its ins-and-outs, she can educate both buyers and sellers about what it takes to make the buying process go as smoothly as possible.
“The first thing I do when I list a condominium is inform sellers exactly what they need in terms of documents. That way, when an offer comes, they’re not scrambling.”
At the same time, she’s also able to let buyers know exactly what they’re dealing with when they make the commitment to purchase a condo.
“Although the new act gives buyers more information to absorb, the bottom line is that they’re now better protected,” said Urbanski. “They have seven days to review documents, and that extra time is needed because they have more to review, as all the documentation can be eight to 12 pages. Once they go through everything, they have peace of mind, as the seven days also gives their lawyer more time to make sure everything is as it should be.”
Realtor Eric Neumann said that it’s critically important for both buyers and sellers to work closely with a knowledgeable Realtor when considering buying or selling a condo.
“I think the public is more aware of the act now, but it’s still important that vendors and buyers work with a Realtor because it’s a transaction that’s quite complicated,” he said. “As Realtors, we’ve spent time learning the act, so we can bring people up to speed on all its complexities, especially all the forms that are now required for the transaction.”
That education process starts from the most basic of places when someone is selling their unit, he added.
“I typically start with the act’s table of contents, and go through everything with my vendor from that starting point. We get a list of documents that are needed, then I deal with the management company, (and) then I go to land titles. We then organize all the documents and have everything in place for when they put their unit on the market. When an offer comes, they’re ready to do the deal.”
Although the process has improved and still is improving, Didomenicantonio admitted there a still a few small stumbling blocks that occasionally cause some angst.
“We are getting documents faster, but it can still be expensive for sellers. It would be good if documentation fees were more standardized,” he said. “And some of the small details, such as the definition of material change, could be better clarified. Because those details still aren’t totally clear, they can make things sketchy, and you’re always a little bit worried that one of those details might void a sale.”
Neumann said those details will eventually be addressed over time. “It’s been a learning curve for everyone. Like anything new, it’s taken time for everyone to learn the new act, and for everyone to get on the same page. Now, buyers have more information and sellers are better prepared. I think the condominium act has done what it set out to do — create a win-win situation that both the buyer and seller benefit from.”
“Changes (to the act) needed to be implemented after 45 years,” said Urbanski. “While it might have been a bit painful at the start, it’s been change for the better.”