Buying a condo in Toronto can be a great idea. But before you sign an offer to buy there are some things about condominiums that are wise to consider.
You’ve heard the old adage, Location, Location, Location. It’s true for condos as well. First consider the neighbourhood and prospects for future development in the area. Consider demographics and transportation. If you are a transit user you will want easy access to public transit. Think about area shopping malls and plazas, food marts, park and recreational options. Think carefully where you want to live and what the area should be like according to your preferences and current and future needs.
There’s a lot in the quality of condominium construction that is not obvious. Design and material defects and substandard quality of workmanship can begin to show itself early in the life of the condominium. A defect, such as poor sound insulation, can affect enjoyment of your property. Correcting any kind of defect can have considerable costs to owners. Look for a condo built by a reputable condominium builder. Ask your realtor.
Take a step back and look at the building you are interested in. Notice the landscaping; see if the condo appeals to your sense of style and taste. Do you like the colors and design details built into the exterior and interior of the condominium? Are the windows clean? Is the exterior of the building well kept? Are the small details looked after? This will give you an indication of how important appearance is to the building manager and owners.
Management makes a huge difference in your experience as a condominium owner. Management begins with a board of directors that selects a management company. It takes both to efficiently and economically manage the condominium. An inexperienced board may not know what makes a good manager. An experienced board selects a good manager that keeps costs down while optimally maintaining the building. Older buildings may have mature boards and managers. Newer buildings may be on a learning curve.
It is commonly understood that owners that live in their condominium suites take more interest in how well their building is run and maintained. Tenants come and go and may not feel the same connection to the building. Usually there is a mix of owners and tenants in any given building that shifts as a building matures. A good rule of thumb if you prefer an owner occupied building over a tenant occupied building is for there to be only about 25% tenant occupants.
It is important to have a critical eye when looking at a condo unit you are looking to buy in any particular building. Observe where the building is situated, how close is it to rail tracks, highways, airports, factories or other sources of noise, street light or traffic that could affect the property. Within a building think about environmental factors that affect the unit. The hot summer sun can overheat a unit facing West or a unit that faces the loading bay can be especially noisy. Being situationally aware of the building before you buy is good practice.
Parking is scarce in Downtown Toronto condominiums. Be advised some condo buildings don’t offer parking spaces to one bedroom units. It can be costly to purchase a parking space. Some spaces Downtown can cost over $50,000. An alternative can be renting a spot from condominium management. If parking comes with the unit that you’re thinking to purchase, it definitely increases the units’ value. If you do not use the parking, you can rent it out.
Like parking, some buildings have it, some don’t. Condominium storage lockers were never large and have since become smaller. If your unit comes with a storage locker it’s a definite asset whether you use it yourself or rent it out. Some storage lockers are more secure and private. You may want to inspect what the building has ahead of time. People who are moving from a house into a condo will have to think more about how much storage they need and how much storage the condo offers.
Condominium building amenities are important; how important is up to you. A good gym with upgraded equipment, a nice swimming pool and a sauna can make your condominium living experience wonderful. Some condominium buildings go further to include a party room, private theater or car wash. How much use you put these additional amenities to is up to you. Figure out what is basic to your needs, a gym or a putting green and decide how essential your preferred amenities are to the decision to buy.
The view outside your condominium is a big part of its value. But it’s sometimes overrated and sometimes adds too much to the price. Curtains and furniture frequently negate the value of a view. A view can be lost all together when another condominium is built alongside an existing building. Consider the number of buildings in close proximity to one another affecting the view. Decide how integral the view is to your likes, preferences and expected benefits. View is one factor among all the others you are weighing when deciding the purchase of the unit you want to call home.