Monday, February 02, 2009

Condo Lottery 2009

The condo lottery takes place on February 4, 2009 at 9:00am in City Hall, Room 400. If you want to join the show, Plan C will be there with free coffee, rallying on the City Hall steps at at 8:15am.

Our building has five tickets in Pool A. 100 tickets are pulled first from Pool A. Then all the remaining unpicked units in Pool A are added to Pool B and another 100 units are drawn. A total of 2,030 individual units are entered into this year's lottery. I am not sure how many are in Pool A, so I am not sure what our odds are.

By the way, the City - strapped for income - is floating a proposal to expedite condo conversion if owners pay a special fee. In other words, TIC owners could pay to jump the lottery line.

This would allow the City to take in some short term dollars, while creating jobs for contractors because the condo conversion process typically requires buildings do some renovations before converting.

The idea probably won't go anywhere and if by some freak of nature it did I am sure the pay to play would not be cheap. (My guess is $10,000 or more.) The anti-home ownership lobby is already out there beating the drums decrying this as another way to toss poor renters out into the street. Also some condo owners are whining, claiming that they paid a premium not to be in a TIC and this is unfair. (Boo hoo.)

As one of my building partners put it "Should we be crossing our fingers or bending over for a huge screw from the city if we win? Perhaps both..."

Why does my building partner equate condo conversion with a huge screw? Time, cost and rigamarole - condo conversion can put building owners at the mercy of government bureaucracy, lawyers and contractors for nearly two years. (Kaching.) All for the privilege of being able to get a traditionally priced mortgage.

My take on the City's proposal? I don't trust it. At present it can take 8+ months just to arrange the initial building inspection required by the City for conversion. If TIC owners are offered the opportunity to buy their way to conversion, they should also be given some guarantee of fast tracking their way through the process. Otherwise the City might try to get it both ways. Owners who want to convert will put out a lot of cash while the actual process of converting slows to some even more glacial pace at the behest of the anti-homeownership lobby.

Sorry for sounding somewhat disillusioned. After so many years in the lottery I am not exactly little miss sunshine when it comes to this topic.


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