“With the changes and the degree of complication involved, I think Realtors are really the only people who can handle [condo transactions],” Roberta Weiss, the president of the Manitoba Real Estate Association, tells REP. “It would be a challenge for the private seller.
“You really need someone trained with the understanding of seller obligations and buyer rights. If you’re not doing those transactions regularly, it could be challenging and expensive.”
The Condominium Act in Manitoba hadn’t been updated since its creation in the 1960s, and even then the market was only loosely regulated. The updated Act, which came into effect on Sunday and is some 300 pages longer, now addresses issues such as disclosure and the cooling-off period, which was previously just 48 hours.
Agents now need to ensure their sellers provide buyers with a package that includes disclosure statements, a full reserve fund study – which each condominium must update to include a 30-year foresight period – and a survey plan for the unit. There are also new guidelines that dictate how this information package must be bundled.
“It provides the buyer with a lot of opportunity to do due diligence to feel comfortable in their decision making,” Weiss says. “There are a lot of documents that offer more transparency and time. It’s great for the buyer.”
Once buyers receive this package – and sign a specially created receipt form – the extended seven-day “cooling-off period” begins.
“Buyers of condominium units have had very little protection, up until now,” says Robert Tyler, a lawyer with Atkins Law who is working with the Manitoba Real Estate Association to educate members about the legislature changes. “The buyer is now going to have all the information in front of them to be able to make a more appropriate assessment of what they’re getting into than ever before.”
The MREA is currently hosting seminars and information sessions to train its members on the new legislation and what it means for their real estate businesses. Weiss says it’s going to take time to become familiar with the new legislation, but is confident that sales reps across the province will readily adopt the new practices.
Tyler, meanwhile, says the updated Act provides agents with a unique opportunity to go above and beyond the call of duty.
“There’s an opportunity with this new legislation for Realtors to provide a value-added service to their clients,” Tyler says. “There’s a bit more work for real estate agents to do, but in the long run it’s going to be good for everybody.”
Agents across Manitoba are preparing for the incoming changes to the province’s Condominium Act, which some industry players believe could spell the end of DIY condo sales.