Are you looking to buy a condo?! AMAZING. You’re our kind of people! We still remain to be in the minority, at least in a country like Canada, but we are a growing group! More and more people are looking to simplify their lives with condo living and WE ARE HERE FOR IT. BUT, when the topic of buying Real Estate occurs around most dinner tables it typically is in regard to buying a detached home. SO, some things learned in those discussions will come in handy and some won’t… more importantly there are things completely left out of the conversation as they have nothing to do with that type of purchase.

So, let’s take a seat at the dinner table and chat…

  1. MONEY HONEY

A. Condo Fees. How much can I afford a month in condo fees when I’m buying a property at (insert purchase price number)? Have the condo fees increased recently? If not, does that mean that they will be soon? On average, how much do condo fees increase in my market area? On average, how much do condo fees increase in this particular building? These are very good questions with important answers. Your Mortage Broker can assist you in regard to what you can afford and all else can be discussed with your Realtor.

B. Special Assessments & Reserve Fund. This is something that can and should be discussed with your Realtor. A special assessment is a payment by the owners to the condo corporation (outside of condo fees) when there is work needed to be done in the building that the Reserve Fund (money saved throughout the years to cover costs for renovations and unexpected items) is unable to handle. It is important to establish if there is one currently that way you can negotiate with the owner for them to pay for it. It is equally important to understand if one is in discussion or that the building looks like some big work is on its way. Chat with your Realtor and understand what the next 5-10 years in this building looks like. That way you can plan accordingly and start saving monthly (outside of your condo fees) for the potential of a Special Assessment or Reserve Fund top-off.

Pro Tip: Contact the Property Management Company for that building and chat with whomever is the Property Manager. Ask them about condo fees, special assessments and reserve fund. You will see this all in the Status Certificate, but I have never had a Property Manager dismiss my questions.

PS Pro Tip: Watch out when looking at new builds. The condo fees are incredibly desirable because they’re so low as a sales pitch but within the first 3-5 years you will see significant increases.

2. AGE OF THE BUILDING

As you know, we see MASSIVE benefits to older condos. They’re the ones that have the massive floor plans that we don’t see nowadays… unless you’ve got a gorgeous budget of over a million dollars… SO, for those of you that don’t have that budget… let’s talk AGE!

You need to decide for yourself if you’re looking at condos in a newer building or an older building. Narrowing down this question really does help assist you in making the right decision for yourself.

A. Do you work from home or are you out and about all day? This is an important question as if you buy in an older building… there will at least be one renovation occurring at all times. Fortunately, in condos, they do have their own construction times that are typically 9-5 from Monday-Friday. This is great for someone that’s not at home during that time… but if you’re working from home and all you’re hearing is banging all day, you won’t be a happy camper!

B. Do you have money put aside apart from your sale for any issues that arise?  In both scenarios, it’s important to have that as even in a new build there can be small problems… BUT should you not have that set aside then you won’t be prepared for all the reasons discussed in point 1. AND for any issues in the unit itself.

C. How do you feel about the quality? Overall, it’s known that new buildings, specifically the interior of them, are pretty low quality. In buying a new unit you’re paying a premium for the fact that it’s turn-key, but you may have numerous issues occur in the first few years that make you question why you paid a premium for this?

D. When will you be moving in? If you’re looking a newly built building you may be one of the first to move in therefore there could still be construction occurring, amenities may not be ready yet and there will be a lot of potential buyers walking through the building.

Pro Tip: If it’s an older building, do a little research on construction during that time period. There’s so much information out there and you can get a solid idea of what type of materials were used, etc. that way you know if you’re potentially walking into anything that may need to be remedied.

3. LOCATION & DEMOGRAPHICS

A. Location.

  • Is this an area of the city I want to be in?
  • Can I walk to amenities?
  • Is it close enough to work for me?
  • What surrounds my building? If there’s vacant land, who owns that land? What plans are there for the land? What’s the zoning? If there’s a building, is it an old one? Will it be demolished soon? Will I be in a construction zone for however many years?

B. Demographics

  • What is the average age of the people in this building? Is this the age category I’d want to have as my neighbours?
  • Do most people still work or are most people at home all day?
  • How engaged are people in the building as a community?
  • Is it mainly couples, single men, single women?

Pro Tip: Location questions go to your Realtor… they are able to access GeoWarehouse and assist you with questions of land ownership and zoning. Demographics… again contact the Property Manager and also see if you can speak to a board member. This will give you the inside look into the building and community of owners.

Hope you enjoyed our little dinner table convo!

You know where to find me if you any more questions! I love chatting Real Estate, so please don’t be shy! 

Alex Harden
Managing Partner
Real Estate