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Why No One is Buying Your Assignment

Around this time last year I predicted 2009 was going to be the year of the assignment. I was wrong. While assignments did begin to take a greater role in the overall Toronto condo market, they still have not gone ‘mainstream’. Quite frankly, this method of buying and selling real estate will probably never go mainstream, however, in 2010 it looks like assignments will be seen as a “Third Way” of buying condos in Toronto (the traditional two ways being pre-sale or resale).

People contact me just about every day and ask me about assignments - I want to buy an assignment! I want to sell my condo by assignment! The truth is, most people have no idea what is involved when buying and selling an assignment. When the Average Joe learns just a fraction of what there is to know about assignments, 95% of the time Average Joe ends up returning to the comparatively simple world of pre-sales and resales.

So for all the sellers of assignments, as well as those who may be thinking about buying a condo by assignment, I’d like to introduce to the the top-5 reasons why many assignment listings never sell:

  1. No Market Exposure. You are not allowed to advertise assignments on the MLS. Many assignment listings don’t sell because no one knows about them!
  2. Lawyers. Most lawyers hate assignment deals. They often look for reasons to kill the deal – and with assignments, you don’t have to look to hard.
  3. Price. This is probably the #1 reason why many assignment listings don’t sell. You can’t price an assignment like a resale property. Investors buy assignments and investors don’t pay current market value for property!
  4. Closing Day Too Far Away. Buying a pre-sale condo then trying to flip it a month later is a fool’s game. The unit must be at or very close to occupancy so that market value can be accurately predicted and the investor can safely determine if they are getting a deal.
  5. Closing Costs. Did you get your closing costs capped by the developer when you first bought your condo? If not, there is no way to tell exactly what they might be. Buyers of assignments need some degree of certainty as to what closing costs they will incur, otherwise they will move on.

Bottom line, assignments are not for everyone, but for the right buyer and seller, working with a good Realtor and co-operative lawyers, they can be a fantastic way to transact in real estate. Questions about assignments? Contact me.



4 Responses to “Why No One is Buying Your Assignment”

  1. Jack

    Hi Andrew,

    Great article. I’m considering purchasing an assignment and I’ve found your entire series very helpful.

    You mention that you ideally need a lawyer who understands assignments for a smooth deal. How do you go about finding a real estate lawyer who is indeed familiar with assignments?

    Also, I was wondering if title insurance or an equivalent thereof is available for an assignment. I’m just wondering if there is any way to cover yourself so that you cannot lose the money paid in case of fraud on the part of the seller of the assignment.

    Cheers,

    Jack

  2. Andrew la Fleur

    Good question. My take on it is this: title insurance is only available on ‘real property’. since an assignment is not real property, there is no title insurance – until the deal closes and the property is registered. There is inherent risk in buying an assignment. Get a good lawyer!

  3. Jack

    Thanks, Andrew. Your answer brings me back to my original question though: how do you go about finding a good lawyer? I’ve googled around, but there doesn’t seem to be any web presence for these “assignment specialists”. Is there a list anywhere?


  4. Having a lawyer involved can’t hurt. Most realtors work hand-in-hand with a good real estate lawyer.

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