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Condo Buyers Struggle To Adjust To Borrowing Rule Changes

Recent changes to mortgage rules in Canada have left some condo buyers unable to afford their purchases, say professionals who are watching some clients struggle to hang on to their future homes.

For years, buyers have been pre-approved for mortgages for units in Toronto buildings before shovels are even in the ground. But new federal rules on borrowing means new realities for people who thought they got the green light.

"In the past four years, the amortization [period] has gone down from 40 to 25 years," mortgage broker Jake Abramowicz told CBC News in a recent interview.

"As a result, suddenly that pre-approval [buyers] had in 2009 is no longer valid. They will either need to have more income or more down payment."

If buyers are unable to make the necessary adjustments, they could face losing their deposit.

Abramowicz said the buyers caught in this position are doing "whatever they can" to ensure they can still close deals on their condos.

Some of the options they are pursuing can include selling assets, refinancing existing properties or reaching out to family members for help.

Oksana Miroutenko, a Toronto real estate lawyer, said she believes that up to 10 per cent of her clients have been scrambling to come up with additional funds.

Miroutenko said that in some cases, it is possible that some buyers could end up being sued by a developer.

"If the market conditions are not the best and the builder has to put the property on sale again and if the purchase price is lower than the price that you purchased, then the builder has the right to sue for the difference," she said.

Industry professionals say they don’t believe that defaulting on pre-approved mortgages is a widespread problem. But with thousands of units reaching completion in the coming year, there is potential for the problem to grow.

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