There's no question condominiums are an increasingly popular housing choice for Canadians for a variety of reasons -- lower costs and prime inner city locations chief among them. But this also means condo buyers' demands are changing like never before.
For many buyers, proximity to transit is essential, while others prefer a location in the heart if the city. Some want a parking spot, and others are OK with a nearby car-share service. Many want on-site recreational facilities, while for some, Wi-Fi is one of their must-haves. Some unit owners want to simply come and go, while others want to sit on the condo management board so they have a say in building operations.
In Toronto, where Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. recently confirmed the market is not being overbuilt, buyers there might have completely different needs than those in Vancouver or Calgary.
Condo developers are increasingly thinking about lifestyle and designing projects that appeal to residents looking to live in a particular neighbourhood for very specific reasons.
In Toronto, a dearth of supply of lowrise housing is leading to skyrocketing prices in that category, leading many buyers to opt for condos.
"If you don't want a ghastly commute, a downtown condominium has been the choice for many cash-strapped Torontonians," says condo market analyst Ben Myers. "Interestingly, countless condo dwellers who were once very skeptical about highrise living, have converted to loving the walkable convenience of downtown, and the maintenance free lifestyle that a condominium provides."
"Many major condo developments are turning into self-sustaining communities," Toronto broker Anthony Jong told YPNextHome. "They are essentially a neighbourhood within a neighbourhood. These projects combine retail, commercial offices, residential condos and an abundance of creative amenities in one community that benefits a variety of lifestyles."
Condo developers are increasingly thinking about lifestyle and designing projects that appeal to residents looking to live in a particular neighbourhood for very specific reasons. Think unique common spaces and amenities to afford occupants more freedom; expanded spaces for a variety of lifestyle choices, encouraging residents to step outside of their unit and enjoy their new community.
Then there's the whole question of investors, who have a completely different set of condo buyers' demands than primary homebuyers. "All investors care about is making money," one industry expert told YPNextHome recently. "They could care less about the bells and whistles."
These bells and whistles might be something as simple as green features such as energy efficient appliances and lighting -- valued inclusions for those who buy a unit to live in. For investors, however, these luxuries -- or anything else that results in higher unit purchase costs or condo fees -- may cut into their bottom line.
And that's if developers even make the latest available tech features available in their projects. Not all of them do, until any new technology is tried and true -- and they know consumers want and are willing to pay for it.
Operating costs are an important consideration -- even if many condo unit owners don't realize it - -and focus only on purchase price. "Maintenance fees are the number one issue for condo dwellers," says Jeanhy Shim, president of Housing Lab Toronto, adding that 30 to 40 per cent of a building's operating costs are related to energy.
There are some very tangible reasons, then, why condo buyers should care about being green, energy consumption and building technology.
Indeed, the list of condo buyers' demands is vast, varied and growing all the time.
So, what do you want in your condo?
Written by Wayne Karl