Buying a Home

Among the top five life-changing events is buying a new home, even when you may have done it several times before. There’s the thrill of starting with something new or different, and then there’s the concern about hidden defects, overpaying for the property, or other factors that you need to know to make an informed decision. Excitement and apprehension usually coexist in the buyer’s mind when considering buying a home. The apprehension can be reduced with a bit of homework and the assistance of competent agents, attorneys and your own efforts.

For example, condominiums are one class of property that appeals to people who would like a particular lifestyle. Condos share many of the same attributes as other residential property, however, they also have their distinct attractions and factors to be aware of.

From my decade+ experience in marketing condominium properties, here are my top recommendations on how to proceed in order to maximize your long-term satisfaction as a condo owner.

Top 20 Tips for buying a condo in Toronto

1. Find yourself an experienced, knowledgeable real estate agent that is intimately familiar with the condominium lifestyle and the neighborhood in which you wish to search.

2. Compare choices. Whether or not you’ve lived in a condo before, tour several, visit models, study plans and generally have a good idea of the choices in attributes.

3. Understand and compare all costs of ownership. Not only will there be a purchase price, there will be maintenance fees, membership fees, amenity fees and other costs that you should assess upfront.

4. Speaking of fees, ask to see the history of maintenance fees and any special assessments over, say, the last five years. Older properties can be expected to have a steady increase in maintenance fees, particularly for repairs. If there have been large jumps in fees or assessments, understand why. If there haven’t been any special assessments, is there work that needs to be done in the future for which you’ll have to share in the cost?

5. Read the fine print. In fact, have an attorney read the fine print in the contract you will sign with the condo management company. Yes, it may look like a “standard” legal contract, but you should particularly understand your rights and the condo management company’s rights.

6. Ask your real estate agent to recommend a reliable mortgage broker, but also do your own shopping for a mortgage. Get a good-faith estimate from each potential mortgage company for comparison purposes. Then, get prequalified for a mortgage so that you are ready to purchase when the right condo shows up on the market.

7. Have your own home inspector. Yes, even for a condo. Yes, even if it’s brand new. Have a professional test everything and help you develop a “punchlist” of any corrective work.

8. Talk to the neighbors. Particularly for those condo development which already are built and occupied, knock on a few doors, or hang out in the lobby, and ask residents about their living experience.

9. Ensure that any specific amenities that you really desire will be available. Internet access. Wi-Fi. Cable TV. Are there outlets in key living areas? Is there assigned parking for one or more vehicles? Does it cost you anything?

10. Call the Better Business Bureau or the local governmental consumer protection agency and find out if the condo management company has had any complaints lodged against them in the recent past.

11. What is the reputation of the condo developer? Go on the internet and search a bit for any information you can find, particularly if there are complaints about the developer.

12. Check out the neighborhood. What kind of neighborhood do you want to live in? Bustling entertainment? Quiet and peaceful? Little crime (yes, call the police and ask them). Business dominant? Residential dominant?

13. Safety and Security. Ask the management company to explain what happens in the event of a fire or some other adverse incident. If you live on the 30th floor of the condo building, are you capable of walking down 30 floors if the elevators are inoperable? Is the alarm system automatically linked to the fire department? What sort of security system do they have for residents? Passkeys to the front of the building? Elevator keypads? Emergency numbers?

14. Check the soundproofing in the unit. If possible, have your spouse, friend or agent walk into the adjacent condo and place a call on your cell phone to him/her. Have him/her speak loudly to gauge whether the walls are sufficiently soundproof. Also consider having him/her visit the condo immediately above you and stomp on the floors a bit.

15. Ask if they have a full-time maintenance staff sufficient in size to handle any problem within 3 hours of reporting it.

16. Ask if the condo management company will have any special arrangements with local businesses. Discounts on fitness club memberships? Free pizza delivery? Dog walking services? On-premise yoga classes?

17. Does the condo management company have restrictions on pets? Visitors? Temporary housing of friends or relatives?

18. When can you move in? Plan on what to do if your condo isn’t ready at the time promised. Don’t assume there won’t be a delay.

19. What about insurance? Ensure that you understand what is covered by the owner of the building and what you need to cover. Again, ask your real estate agent for a reputable insurance company, preferably one who does a substantial condo insurance business.

20. Is there or will there be a condo association for tenants (probably). Review its existing or proposed bylaws. Again, having an attorney look over the bylaws is advisable.

Finally, after doing all your homework, go ahead with the purchase knowing that you performed due diligence on this major decision and then enjoy!

Realty Inc. Brokerage
Independently Owned and Operated

Andrew Dawid

Sales Representative

(416) 917-0653

[email protected]

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