As real estate prices soar, many Canadians are rediscovering the joys of urban living and buying condos. Before you take a leap, check out 25 tips for smart buying.
Condo sales are at an all-time high. In cities like Toronto and Vancouver, people are rediscovering the joys of living downtown again, along with the low-maintenance, easy lifestyle that goes with havng your very own castle in the clouds. And with housing real estate prices at truly stratospheric levels across the country, a condo is an affordable way into the market, especially for young people.
Kathy Monahan, an agent with Forest Hill Realty in Toronto, has been helping clients buy and sell condos for nearly three decades and offers these 25 insider tips when you're thinking of going condo.
Before you start
1 Hire a professional realtor to help with the buying process. It costs you nothing, since the seller pays the commission.
2 Make sure you have a good lawyer.
3 Seek financial qualification, to determine how much mortgage you can afford.
4 Crunch the numbers with your financial backer; you'll need extra money for closing costs, moving, land transfer tax and lawyers' fees.
On the hunt
5 Be prepared to see a variety of styles: low-rise, high-rise, with or without amenities such as doormen or gym facilities.
6 Purchase the largest suite you can afford. Studios and one-bedrooms are more difficult to re-sell.
7 Visit the neighbourhood at different times of the day and evening. Does it suit you?
8 Choose a handsome view. Not only will it make day-to-day life more appealing, but it helps with resale later.
9 Bear in mind that a southern exposure, although bright and sunny, may also be hot in the summer.
10 Avoid a layout that looks out over the garbage pick-up area.
11 Avoid a suite that overlooks the garage entrance and the coming and going of vehicle traffic.
12 Avoid a suite beside or across from the elevator.
13 A parking space is highly recommended. Even if you don't drive, you can always rent it out.
14 A locker is also highly recommended. There is rarely if ever enough storage space in a condo.
Home suite home
15 Find out about visitor parking. How many spaces are available?
16 With a resale condo, examine the appliances and wear and tear on the suite closely.
17 Note the condition -- and aroma -- of the lobby and common areas such as hallways and stairwells.
18 Find out who the occupants of the building are: mostly owners or tenants? Owners are preferable.
19 Find out the monthly condo maintenance fees and what exactly they include (and don't include).
20 What are the property taxes? Are they included in the maintenance fees?
21 Chat with other owners and ask about their experience in the building.
Make me an offer
22 Visit the suite at least twice, if you can, before making your offer.
23 Know what comparable suites in the building and in the area have sold for.
24 As for offer price, listen to and discuss with your agent.
25 When you are ready to make an offer, make it conditional on your lawyer reviewing the Condominium Documents and Status Certificate.