CO-OWN­ER­SHIP LIVING

NOW Magazine - Toronto Living - - Front Page - By Meaghan Clark

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

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