Pre-sale crisis B.C.'s "new leaky condos"
Nine months after the provincial government vowed to reduced risks for pre-sale condo buyers, little seems to have changed, say opposition critics.
It's a housing crisis on par with the leaky condo catastrophe, said NDP MLA Diane Thorne.
"It's time for this government to step in," she said. "The people who purchased their homes in the Sophia condominium development need help now."
Even as buyers of The Sophia in Vancouver struggle with the choice of shelling out tens of thousands of dollars to keep their condos, or walk away and lose their dream homes, the same story has played out before.
In the Riverbend development on the banks of the Coquitlam River, pre-sale buyers were told they'd have to pay another $100,000 or more to keep their homes, and most walked away.
Even though the condos were nearly finished, no one's going to be living in them for a while -- when developers are out of money, it's the purchasers who are out of luck.
But last fall, the government made two changes to enhance consumer protection. First, it forced developers to disclose more information to customers, such as the financial risks of the project.
And second, it required developers to reveal more about their backgrounds -- things like bankruptcies or project failures.
But those changes came too late for anyone who bought at the Sophia -- the changes couldn't be retroactive, said Finance Minister Carole Taylor.
The minister said she is open to more suggestions for strengthening consumer protection but says the government isn't going to ban pre-sales.
"If you said that you couldn't have any presales, then we'd all have to recognize that a lot of the building would have to stop because they use those presales as a method of financing," she said.
So as developers keep selling properties before they're even built, the message to the consumer is the same: let the buyer beware.
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Jim Beatty