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How to Uncover a Lien on a Condo Listing – 3 Life-Saving Tips

By August 5, 2014No Comments

Uncover A LienWell it seems that the condo market continues to boom in Canada. Just a couple of months back The Globe and Mail reported that developers broke ground on a surprisingly high number of condo developments across the country this past February.

The Globe and Mail also reported that “Construction of multiple units in cities rose this past month by more than 13 per cent to almost 116,500, CMHC said, while starts fell by 2.4 per cent in the single-detached category.” You can read the full article here:

While the condo market can be a lucrative one, it can also carry risk to real estate sales professionals and their clients because the condo owners have obligations to the condominium corporation in addition to their mortgage holder. Even if there is no mortgage, the condo owner still has an ongoing responsibility to pay condo fees.

The challenge is, when a condo owner doesn’t pay their condo fees for an extended period of time, it can result in arrears that can change the seller’s equity position and also result in a potential lien that will involve legal and administration fees that will need to be removed – even if the condo fee arrears are paid in full.

There are a variety of different ways that you can uncover a lien on a property as a result of unpaid condo fees so that your client can address/plan for the issue, well before a closing. If the seller’s property is encumbered with a number of mortgages, leaving the equity position tight with respect to the equity to pay your commission, it also pays to know the seller’s status as it relates to condo fees.

Here are some different ways that you can uncover a lien on a property:

You can request a Parcel Register in the GeoWarehouse Store. Some real estate sales professionals wait for the real estate lawyer to request this search on closing, but it pays to perform this search any time you retain a new client. Why? Not only will a Parcel Register uncover a condo lien, it will also verify who the legal owners of a property are, when the property was purchased, the amount of the transfer, and any registered mortgages and liens.

If your Parcel Register uncovers a lien you may use the reference number to obtain the Instrument Image for the lien. This will give you more details about the lien, including the registration amount, the condo corporation details and the information for the solicitor who registered the lien.

Lien or no lien, another great way to find out a condo owner’s status with a condo corporation is to request a status certificate. If there are condo arrears but they are not to the point of registering a lien on the condo, this is still an issue that can impact a closing because the real estate lawyer will also request a condo status certificate and if there are arrears they will have to be paid prior to closing.

You can request a condo status certificate from the condo corporation directly. There is usually a nominal fee to do this. You can either write to the condo corporation directly and send the fee with the request, or you can check to see if the condo status certificate is available on GeoWarehouse. If it is, you can pay the fee online and obtain the condo status certificate online as well.

A little bit of extra due diligence goes a long way. Knowing your deal inside and out will lead to more closed deals because you will be able to identify and address issues faster, thereby mitigating time wasted. Uncovering issues like liens is one way to do this.

For more information about how you can uncover a lien on a property please visit or call 1-866-237-5937.