though it seems there’s no end to the great wall of condos being built in Toronto, there is an alternative for those who want more space and lower fees in prestigious neighbourhoods. It’s not a newcomer to Toronto. This type of real estate has been around since the 80s and is steadily gaining momentum as a choice for those who don’t fit the typical homeowner profile. It’s not condos or co-ops – it’s co-ownership. Paulette Zander is a native of New York, where co-ownership is very popular. Although she’s one of Toronto’s top sellers of co-ownership properties, she feels many here miss out on these unique opportunities because they don’t understand how co-ownership works and are unaware of its benefits. Zander wants to sell more units this year at her Sanderson development, but she also wants to set the record straight and educate the public on what makes them a smart and viable real estate option. A higher down payment is required to qualify for co-ownership than the usual 5 per cent, something closer to 15 to 35 per cent of the price. However, the cost per square foot is lower and the mortgage doesn’t overextend the client. In fact, if a condo owner and a coowner were paying the same amount per month, the co-owner would have his or her mortgage paid off in about 10 years, while the condo owner would not finish paying until the 25th year. As Zander emphatically points out, mortgages and lenders have changed since the early days of co-ownership. “Let me dispel the myth that only blanket mortgages apply to these units,” she says. As leading real estate lawyer Martin Rumack explains, co-ownerships are most often in smaller converted apartment buildings with fewer units than a large high-rise. “Generally, these buildings fly under the radar,” Rumack says, which may explain why so many people don’t know or understand how coownership works. Not only does Martin take care of most co-ownerships’ legal work, but he also teaches continuing education classes on the subject to agents through the Toronto Real Estate Board. As the cliché goes, the best thing these conversions have going for them is “location, location, location,” says Rumack. Most are in established neighbourhoods in desirable, distinguished older buildings, and are often a better value than condos in the long run. Unlike a building that goes condo, a coownership conversion does not require formal rezoning and is much less expensive for the developer. For co-owners, there’s much less legal work to sign off on, and unlike in a co-op, co-owners’ names are registered on the deed of the building. “I get a lot of first-time buyers who normally wouldn’t qualify for a mortgage because of income,” says realtor Al Garland. This veteran agent has been working on co-ownerships for some time. He has his own project under development outside of Toronto as well as two offices in the downtown core. He’s currently finalizing a deal on a property on Pape Avenue and is thrilled that he’s been able to help a client who couldn’t find the space she wanted at the price she wanted until she saw the two-bedroom, light-filled, fully renovated 954-square-foot unit in the heart of Riverdale. “I am the voice of the people I can’t otherwise put in a condo downtown,” says Garland. With no elevators, chillers, pools or expensive electrical repairs to worry about, monthly fees are greatly reduced, and the savings go straight into the pockets of the co-owners. Zander points out that the beauty of this type of real estate is that a small number of people get together and make up the rules of the building, something that works well for co-owners living next to each other. “It runs like a community. People find space to develop what they need. If many residents ride bikes, then bike racks can be installed,” he says. Zander feels co-ownerships don’t get the accolades or the press coverage they deserve. This media-savvy agent pushes hard to market co-ownerships and spread the message of value. “A coownership is a stepping stone to the dream of home ownership,” she says. You won’t find her listings on Multiple Listing Services (MLS). She sells co-ownerships exclusively, to keep costs down. You can find more info on her website, www.mentorproperties.com. You can reach Al Garland through the Condo Shoppe, 416-947-1888.
DISTINGUISHED BUILDINGS IN DESIRABLE NEIGHOURHOODS ARE GOOD CANDIDATES