Preliminary contract

Before becoming a condo owner, you will need to sign a preliminary contract by which you agree to buy the condo, and then a contract of sale by which the transfer of property takes place.

Preliminary contract or promise to purchase ?

In general, the sale of a house is preceded by a promise to purchase. However, the promise to purchase only applies to resale houses. In the case of a sale of a new residential building for residential use, the law requires that it be preceded by a preliminary contract, and not by a promise to purchase.

The preliminary contract includes specific information which is not included in a promise to purchase. It also contains essential elements on the terms and price of the sale. Once accepted, you agree to pay the expected price and take possession of the building on the agreed date. Make sure that the preliminary contract reflects your will since once accepted, it cannot be renegotiated.


The preliminary contract only applies if the land and the building belong to the builder.

Before signing the preliminary contract, read the declaration of co-ownership and all the acts it contains. This will simplify your purchasing procedures and help you decide whether to purchase your condominium residence.

What does the preliminary contract consist of and what should it include?

The preliminary contract is an agreement by which you agree to buy a house at the agreed price and the contractor agrees to build according to the requested characteristics, deliver it on the scheduled date, and transfer the title of the property.

In addition to your name and address, the preliminary contract must include information relating to the characteristics of the building and mention whether the price is revisable.

Since there is no standard document required by law, here is a non-exhaustive list of elements to be included in a preliminary contract:

  • Name and address of the real estate project
  • Address, dimensions and cadastral lot number of the building
  • Name and address of the entrepreneur and of the beneficiary buyer(s)
  • Identification of the building by category
  • Obligations of the parties
  • Sale price and payment terms
  • Acceptance of the preliminary contract, and warranty contract by the seller and the buyer-beneficiaries
  • Signature of the parties


You can cancel a sale if the promoter or the manufacturer has failed to provide a preliminary contract and if, because of this omission, you can demonstrate that you are suffering significant prejudice.

Before signing the preliminary contract!

Note that before signing the bill of sale for a new house, you will be required to sign a preliminary contract according to which the seller, who is an entrepreneur or a promoter, agrees to sell the building and the buyer agrees to buy it at the agreed price.

Keep conditional clauses in mind

The conditional clauses of a preliminary contract protect you in the event of a planned event not occurring within the agreed period.

Before signing a preliminary contract, make sure that it contains the relevant conditional clauses relating to:

  • Inspection
  • Mortgage financing
  • Receipt of a Certificate of Location
  • and, if applicable, the sale of your current residence.

For example, if the sale of your current residence has not yet taken place, the contractor will not be able to ask you to meet your obligation of purchasing the condo because you will have included in the preliminary contract a clause stating that you will acquire the condo provided you sell your current residence. Thus, if you have failed to sell your current home, the condition is not met and you are not required to buy.

Can we renounce a preliminary contract that has already been signed?

As a rule, if you have promised to buy and have signed a preliminary contract to this effect, you are obliged to buy and the entrepreneur is obliged to sell. However, when an individual promises to buy a new home in Quebec, the preliminary contract must include a clause that allows him to change his mind within 10 days of signing without having to justify his decision.

This is an additional protective measure which gives you the option of withdrawing from the preliminary contract in case you have signed on a whim and regret your choice the following day. It provides the promising-buyer time to evaluate the consequences of the promise.

Take time to read this clause carefully because it could allow for compensation to be paid to the seller in the event of cancellation. The law limits this to 0.5% of the agreed sale price.

Does your preliminary contract not include such a clause? The law still protects you, and the promising seller cannot claim any compensation if you exercise your right of withdrawal within 10 days of signing the preliminary contract.

If, in the end, you change your mind, you must notify the seller within 10 days of signing, ideally in writing so as to be able to use it as proof. Note that if the deadline expires on a Saturday, the rule requires that the deadline be extended to the next business day, i.e. on the following Monday.


Take time to read the withdrawal clause carefully as it may include a maximum indemnity of 0.5% of the agreed sale price that you will have to pay in the event of withdrawal.

For example, the preliminary contract signed on October 16, 2019 between Nicolas and "Construction ABC Inc." will be effective from the date of signing (October 16, 2019), but the countdown will only begin on October 17, 2019. Nicolas may, if he changes his mind, unilaterally terminate the preliminary contract if he respects the 10-day deadline after signature. Thus, he will have until midnight on Monday October 28, 2019 to exercise his right of withdrawal and send his notice of termination. Note that the preliminary contract will be terminated as soon as "Construction ABC Inc." receives the notice of termination.

Note that :

    • The 10-day deadline is in calendar days
    • The deadline begins the day following the day of signing
    • The last day is counted inclusively


Conditional clauses and the right of withdrawal are the only means usually included in a preliminary contract that protect you by allowing you to cancel the preliminary contract and dissolve the agreement.

Once the conditional clauses have been established and the 10-day period has passed, it is impossible to go back. Thus, you cannot use having found a more beautiful and cheaper condo or discovering minor defects or poor workmanship as a reason to desist.

The preliminary contract commits both parties. If you wish to withdraw from this contract without having a reasonable reason, you may expose yourself to recourse on the part of the contractor. He can force you to buy the house by an action to transfer title and pay him for the damage(s) suffered.

However, the seller may agree, under certain conditions, to terminate the preliminary contract. Be aware, however, that you will be entirely dependent on his good will.

Note that the corollary is also true: if the contractor refuses to sell after signing the preliminary contract, you can take legal action to force him to sell the house and claim he pay for the damage(s) suffered.

Therefore, before concluding this preliminary contract, be careful, do not hesitate to ask all your questions to the contractor, and inquire with any legal professional to better understand your obligations arising therefrom.

*Updated on June 5, 2020

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