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Selling Real Estate

Mar 20, 2024

Everything You Need to Know About an Assignment Sale

6 minute read

In real estate, there are a number of different types of transactions that come with their own unique benefits and challenges. People are most familiar with a standard purchase or sale of a home that already exists (ie. a resale property). However, the exchange is quite different when someone decides to buy a pre-construction home (typically from a builder) that hasn’t been lived in. A further nuance is an assignment sale, which can occur in both the resale and pre-construction space.

With all that said, assignment sales aren’t widely understood and can often be confusing for those venturing into them. That’s why we put together this comprehensive guide on assignment sales in Ontario! If you find yourself reading this, it's likely you're seeking a deeper understanding of what assignment sales are, their significance, and how they can impact both buyers and sellers. In this blog, we aim to answer all your questions about assignment sales and their nuances. 

Understanding Assignment Sales

First things first, what exactly is an assignment sale? It's like passing the baton in a relay race before the finish line. In real estate, this means the original buyer (assignor) transfers their rights to buy a property to someone else (assignee) before they officially own it. The transfer allows the assignee to take over the assignors rights and obligations outlined in the Agreement of Purchase & Sale (APS). Assignments usually happen in pre-construction projects but can occur in other types of property transactions too. Put simply, an assignment enables the buyer of a home to sell the home before they take ownership of it. 

Why Assignment Sales Happen

Assignment sales can take place for a whole suite of reasons, but typically they occur when the buyer's personal circumstances have changed. This could be related to their financial circumstances, lifestyle changes, work relocation, etc. Especially when it comes to pre-construction, a commitment to purchase typically happens well in advance of the move in date. This leaves a lot of time for things to change for the buyer, potentially requiring them to exit the deal before the closing date. An assignment presents them with a great way to transfer responsibility of the APS to another individual, without having to incur the penalties that might come with trying to back out of the purchase altogether. 

For an assignee, an assignment can be an attractive way to purchase a property. They may be able to take advantage of a drop in value of the property since the assignors purchase or they may have just missed the opportunity to buy the property in the first place. Either way, an assignment provides them the right to purchase a property in a way that is beneficial to them.  

The Process of an Assignment Sale

Imagine you've agreed to buy a brand-new condo that's still under construction. Unfortunately, sometimes life just happens, and you decide not to go through with the purchase. Enter the assignment sale. Here's how it unfolds:

  • Original agreement: You've signed on the dotted line to purchase the condo.

  • Change of heart: For whatever reason, you opt not to finalize the purchase.

  • Finding a new buyer: You find someone who wants to take over your agreement.

  • Sealing the deal: You both sign an assignment agreement, transferring your purchasing rights to them.

  • Closing time: The new buyer finalizes everything with the developer.

This process might sound straightforward, but it's laden with legal, financial, and contractual nuances that need careful navigation. This is why it’s essential you engage a real estate lawyer as soon as possible in the process. They’ll be able to advise you on your legal rights and obligations that come with an assignment. 

Advantages of Assignment Sales

So, why consider an assignment sale? For sellers, it's a graceful exit from a property purchase, possibly with a profit if the property's value has increased. Buyers, on the other hand, can snag properties in developments that are no longer on the market or have appreciated in value since their initial sale.

Challenges and Considerations

But it's not all rainbows and butterflies. Assignment sales come with their own set of challenges. There are legal hoops to jump through, financial implications such as taxes and fees, and the ever-present risk of deals not going as planned. This is a legally binding contract so both parties need to do their due diligence and, most importantly, seek professional advice. This includes advice from a real estate agent, real estate lawyer, and a tax professional. While that all might sound expensive, not getting the right advice before committing to an assignment could turn out to be much more costly. 

There have also unfortunately been some bad actors in the assignment space in the past. The good news is that regulators have stepped in to provide better oversight in the space in order to protect consumer, but no regulator is perfect. This just emphasizes the importance of engaging multiple professionals in your assignment, to ensure that you’re getting unbiased and valuable advice.

Navigating the Market

The assignment sales market is a vibrant and ever-changing landscape, heavily influenced by geographic nuances and existing market conditions. This variability means that opportunities for assignment sales can differ significantly from one region to another, often reflecting the local demand for real estate, economic stability, and the pace of new development projects. For individuals keen on exploring assignment sales, whether as potential buyers or sellers, understanding these regional market dynamics is essential.

One effective strategy for identifying great assignment sale opportunities involves monitoring developments that have reached their sales capacity. Sold-out projects often indicate a high demand for properties within a particular area or development, making assignments from these projects particularly appealing to those looking to enter or invest in these sought-after locales.

Not to keep harping on the need for guidance and expertise when navigating the world of assignments, but I’m going to! The specialized nature of assignment sales requires real estate professionals who possess a deep understanding and experience in this specific segment of the market. Real estate agents who specialize in assignment sales can offer invaluable insights, facilitate connections between buyers and sellers, and navigate the complex regulatory and contractual landscape associated with these transactions.

Assessing the value and potential of an assignment sale requires a comprehensive approach. Potential buyers should conduct thorough due diligence, including reviewing the original purchase terms, understanding any restrictions or conditions imposed by developers, and analyzing current market trends to gauge the property's potential for appreciation. For sellers, determining the right price point and understanding the best timing to enter the market are crucial steps in maximizing returns on their investment.

Wrapping Up

And there you have it—a comprehensive guide to navigating the waters of assignment sales. Whether you're looking to buy or sell, understanding the ins and outs of these transactions can make all the difference. So, consult with professionals, do your due diligence, and who knows? Your next real estate adventure might just be an assignment sale.

At Doormat, we have experienced real estate lawyers that can help you navigate the tricky world of assignments. We can also support you with your standard property purchases, sales, refinances, ownership changes, and status certificate reviews. If you have any questions, reach out!

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