Buying your first condo can feel intimidating at first, but the process is a lot easier than you think. Your real estate agent, lawyer, and bank representatives can help guide you in buying the right condominium that suits you, so choose them wisely and don't be afraid to ask questions. Here are some tips to help you start your search and find your dream condominium.
1. Make sure you get what you want
Before you start hunting for a condominium, make a list of your priorities. Consider approximate size, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, location, price, amenities, and how soon you want to move. Check the "Condominium Buyer's Guide" from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation website to help you start searching for potential condos.
2. Stay focused
Even the thriftiest shopper can lose perspective when dealing in six-figure amounts. What's another $5,000 when you're already spending $250,000, right? Well, if you consider interest, it's quite a lot. Know what you can afford, get pre-approved for your mortgage, and stick to your budget.
3. All the world's a stage
Whether you're looking at model suites or resale condos, be aware of the staging that's been done to make the space more appealing.
4. Know where to store it
Storage space may not seem as exciting as a gourmet kitchen or a wrought-iron spiral staircase, but when you're about to squeeze your whole life into 700 square feet, it's important that there's room for all your possessions.
5. Go with your instinct
Finding the right condo is like finding love. If it's meant to be, sparks will fly. If you haven’t found that dream condo after looking at 10 or so places, don't be disappointed, just keep on looking.
6. Does your car have a space?
Parking can be an uncovered stall, a covered stall, indoors but unheated or indoors heated and secured. Its legal status can be either assigned common-area space, or legally-titled ownership. If it is assigned, it should be protected by a formal lease agreement. You should also find out if there is guest parking.
7. Warm and cozy
Heating is an important issue in condo buildings. In apartment condos it is usually central gas-fired hot-water heat, which means the cost is covered by your monthly condo fees. However, older hot-water heating systems can be loud! Electric heat is convenient, quiet and controllable in each room, but it’s expensive. Learn about the condo's heating system and see if it works for you.
8. Who are your neighbours?
Renters will be found in any condo building. That’s good for your flexibility as an owner, but find out how many renters are in the building. If it’s primarily renters, this means that investors own the building and they may not share your standards of operation and maintenance. You may also find a less sense of community in the building.
Orientation of the condo is important if it’s an apartment facing only one direction, less so if it’s a townhouse or duplex bungalow condominium with more exposures. How much sun does the condo receive, and is that sun hitting your bedroom windows at 5:00 a.m. during the summer? You may prefer it, or you might hate it, so be aware of which way the condo faces and whether it will be bright enough, too hot, or too dark for your needs.
10. Quality Counts
Construction of condominiums can vary dramatically. Concrete is more long lasting and generally quieter than frame construction, but “post-tensioned” concrete construction can have problems requiring maintenance. Concrete transmits tapping sounds, while wood-frame buildings can quiver slightly under heavy footsteps. Remember, quality will be your best investment.
11. Check and double check
If something bothers you a little on the first sight, it'll bother you a lot when you live there. You shouldn't have to talk yourself into a $250,000 purchase. Think twice before you make the deal. Check all documentation carefully and make a wise decision.
If you take the above steps into consideration when you start your condo hunting, you're guaranteed to be on the right track to finding your dream condo. Remember, buying a condominium is not difficult if you do your research and consult with your real estate agent.