Following a call with a client yesterday discussing assignments at Soba Condo Ottawa and Hideaway Condo Ottawa, I thought it would be helpful for readers and clients if I put together a few of my thoughts surrounding condo assignments and how HST can affect condo assignments and pre-construction purchases in general. Understanding the following will assist in underwriting your decision to purchase pre-construction and assist in setting up the purchase in the most profitable way.
For the sake of this discussion, units can be purchased in four ways. Each of which carries differing HST implications. The four options are:
- As an owner-occupied unit
- As a rental unit
- As an assignment
- As a flip
When completing the transaction via Option 1 – The statutory declaration at the time of closing will be owner-occupied. With this option, the property has zero HST implications associated to the purchase under the pre-construction purchase contract. Meaning the contract price is the full purchase price. This transaction will only be subject to standard closing adjustments.
When completing the transaction via Option 2 – The statutory declaration at the time of closing will be a rental property. With this option, the federal government has a program called the Rental Rebate Program, which in turn covers 98-99% of the HST that would have been included in Option 1. The purpose of the rebate is to encourage the addition of rental units to the market.
When completing the transaction via Option 3 – There will be no statutory declaration at the time of closing. This is because a title transfer closing never takes place. With this, the HST implications will be a consideration of the end Buyer that is purchasing the agreement. Other implications via capital gains and/or losses or other are another story.
When completing the transaction via Option 4 – To me, this signals a RED FLAG, basically this is a steer clear option. The reasoning is that it is difficult to pass the test of owner-occupied or rental while never occupying or renting the unit and subsequently turning over the title quickly following the official unit title transfer date. This can cause any included in purchase price HST or HST rebates to be called back or voided.
Condo Assignments Summary
If the intent is to flip a pre-construction condo, this will be best done via option 3 as an assignment prior to registration and unit title transfer. The only other way I would suggest entertaining the ‘flip’ option would be in the event a unit was occupied or intended to be occupied during the interim period but following unit title transfer, for some believable reason you have a change of heart, subsequently selling shortly after registration. This move may result in red flags as the title of the condo will have changed hands quickly and an audit will be likely.
Alternatively, and for the risk adverse, the best fall back strategy when talking condo assignments and understanding HST Implications surrounding pre-construction purchases, my opinion is to earmark the condo at the onset as a rental for at least one year, leaving no possibility of HST impacts outside of the Rental Rebate Program. This will lead you to sell the unit down the road while tenanted. While tenanted the unit can carry and cover. At this point, you can sit on your hands and wait the completion of the lease term. When the lease term approaches you can market the property for sale while it is lived in, collecting rent and carrying its own weight. Keep in mind finding a tenant at this point is key. Rents are great, but having a tenant with nice furniture and artwork is even better as their furniture will act as free staging 😉