Finding your dream condo takes time, patience, and guidance—but it’s one of the most exciting investments you’ll make. A condo in the heart of Toronto is surrounded by award-winning restaurants, highly respected cultural institutions, and the buzz of a dynamic, world-class city.
If you’re in the market for a condo for the first time—whether you are buying your first home or an inaugural investment property, or downsizing from a detached single family home—it’s easy (and appropriate!) to focus on size or floorplans, or to become enamoured with chic decor. In addition to layout and aesthetics, pay attention to these equally essential steps and details, which will ensure you find the perfect home.
First, Determine Your Budget
In 2015, the Toronto condo market experienced a rise in the average selling price due to the high demand for condos. So, before you start looking for a condo in Toronto, plan your budget and decide whether or not your dream home fits your financial means. A financial advisor can help you determine what mortgage you qualify for.
Hire an Experienced REALTOR®
It can be challenging to find a condo that meets your specific needs. Working with a REALTOR with in-depth knowledge of the local real estate market and specific expertise in Toronto condos is essential. With insights into specific buildings, from the most desirable floor plans within each tower to developers or strata that have a negative reputation to developments in up-and-coming neighbourhoods you may not have considered, a condo specialist can guide you through the process and help you avoid costly mistakes.
Learn the Ratio of Condo Owners to Renters
The owner-to-renter ratio, as well as the building’s demographic, is important because owners will typically take greater care of their units and the common spaces. Owning in a building popular with, say, university students or young professional renters will create a different living environment and more turnover than one with more established owners.
Pretend You Live in the Neighbourhood
Once you’ve found a condo you like, visit the neighbourhood more than once, at different times of the day, so you can get a sense of the area. See what traffic is like and how safe you feel. Look for services you value, such as a dry cleaner, bank, LCBO, or grocery store. Check whether you are comfortable with the age range of the local residents or feel you fit in with the demographics of the area.
Find Out Maintenance Fees and Property Taxes
Factor in ongoing costs like monthly maintenance fees and property taxes into your budget. Low fees sound ideal, but they might only include basic utilities. In fact, they might be set low so that the condo building’s strata may need to raise them significantly in the future in order to cover expenses or to build up a sufficient contingency fund.
Consider the Unit’s Exposure
While a sunny, south-facing unit with floor-to-ceiling windows sounds fantastic, you may find it too warm and bright in the summer, and especially chilly during winter in Toronto.
Think About the View
A pretty view is preferable (particularly for resale value), but with developers breaking ground in new plots all the time, have your REALTOR do research into planned builds that may obstruct your view of Lake Ontario or the CN Tower in the future. It’s also a good idea to avoid suites that overlook the garbage pickup space and heavy traffic areas like the garage entrance.
Make Sure Your Pets Can All Make the Move With You
Most condos have rules about how many pets you can have, and even what size they can be. Discuss this with your REALTOR as you begin your search, as this will help you narrow down your many options upfront. A condo’s board of directors usually determines whether or not owners can have pets.
Think as Though You are the Unit’s Landlord
Even if you are buying a condo for you to live in, evaluating a condo as an investor would help you identify properties with better resale value down the road. Consider demographic changes that are affecting the Toronto real estate market: with the ever rising cost of housing in Toronto putting home ownership out of reach for many Millennials, much of this generation are predicted to be renters for life.
Factor in how appealing the condo you’re considering will be to this cohort. Millennials prioritize a downtown lifestyle, close access to their jobs, proximity to the TTC and transit, and down the line, living in a unit that is family friendly; this translates into location and condo size being critical in the unit’s rentability.
Ask About Guest Amenities and Access
If you have a lot of out-of-town friends who often visit you, inquire whether there are guest units for rent, what the cost and nightly rental rules are, and about visitor parking. You may also be keen to hand out keys to your friends so they can visit the condo’s gym or pool, but find out first if you need to be present for them to take a swim or use the equipment.
These are simply a few of the factors you need to consider before buying a condo. To receive advice from an expert in Toronto real estate, connect with a Sotheby’s International Realty Canada advisor, and to browse Toronto condos listings, visit sothebysrealty.ca.
Article Provided by Insight Magazine