If you’re reading this you’re likely thinking – and likely dreaming – about buying a new condo. It’s an exciting step! Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or looking to downsize, condo living has a lot to offer. Condos are becoming increasingly popular among both millennials and near-retirees as more people search for a home conducive to low-maintenance, active living.
But before we get too far ahead of ourselves, here are a few important steps to consider as your dream moves toward reality.
1. Research, Research, Research!
Your essay writing days may be behind you, but you’re going to want to tap into those research skills as you approach the condo market. There are a lot of questions to answer. What is the market like at the moment? Where is it headed? Is condo living suitable to my lifestyle? What are the advantages to condo living? What kind of price points am I looking at?
Perhaps the best place to start your research is with friends and family, acquaintances and colleagues. Do you know a condo owner? They are sure to be a great information source. Ask them about their condominium, their living experience, the perks and challenges, their condo specific expenses such as what their condo fees cover, things they learned during the buying process. If you’re looking for the best information, start with a direct source.
Beyond word-of-mouth, there is an endless amount of information about the condo market and condo living available to you online. Check out recent newsprint and publications, homebuilder blogs and so on for important questions, tips, checklists and considerations. Stop by a sales centre or show home in the neighbourhoods you’re most interested in. It will get you some quick answers to some of your initial questions and provide you with information to take away.
Before you start down the path to purchasing, make sure you’re well informed!
2. Identify The Wants And Needs
You’ve done your research, you have a lay of the land; now what? It’s time to determine what you’re looking for in a condo. To start, it may be helpful to create a list of design features and amenities that are most important to you. What can you not live without? What is important, but not necessarily a deal breaker? Which neighbourhood best suits your needs? This should help narrow your search, especially as you settle on the big things like bedroom and bathroom count and preferred location. What kind of condo are you looking for? There are plenty of options out there from apartment-style to townhome to attached bungalows.
3. Review Your Finances
After you’ve determined the key features and amenities you’re looking for, it’s time to review finances. Based on your research, what kind of entrance prices are you looking at for the size of the condo you are looking for? And looking at your list of wants and needs, how many are likely to be standard features, and how many will require upgrades? Have you accounted for condo fees and storage space, if needed? These are simply the big questions.
If this is your first home, there are a number of tips of saving for the initial down payment. If you're thinking of downsizing, it maybe important to you to try and lower your downsizing costs ahead of time and remember the finer details such as moving costs, furnishings and monthly services and amenities that will move with you (i.e. internet, telephone, Netflix, utilities, etc.).
Once you have done some initial research, identified what you’re looking for in your condo, and have reviewed your finances, you should be well prepared to start meeting with some sales teams.
4. Discussion Time
This one is pretty straightforward; it’s time to start some discussions. Now that you have a list of questions to ask your potential builder, stop by a few sales centres and showhomes. Go through your list of questions and review their literature. Keep an eye out for open houses as well. If you have a real estate agent, it may be worth notifying them of your interest so they can flag any open houses you might have missed.
5. Decision Time
Congratulations! You’ve decided on the condo of your dreams. Upon choosing your new condo you will be required to make a reservation. In most cases, you will also be required to submit a cheque of a predetermined amount as a security deposit to hold the unit. This gives you time to finalize your mortgage approval and other financing prior to writing the sales contract. It should be noted that this does not guarantee you the unit, nor does it guarantee the final purchase price.
6. Sign On The Dotted Line
Once your financing is in order, it’s time to write the sales contract, submit your down payment and mortgage approval. Make an appointment with your area sales manager to write the contract. Be sure to review your contract carefully. If you need clarification about terms, clauses, conditions or other information, a good area manager will be there to guide you through the process.
7. Connect With Your Builder
While you should receive updates about the construction and progress of your new home, it never hurts to reach out to your area sales manager along the way should you have any questions. That’s what they are there for! When it comes to design selections, you should be contacted directly as needed. They should also be contacting you at least a month before your possession date.
8. New Home Orientation
Shortly before you take possession of your new home you should have an orientation to show you all the features of your home. The customer care team will also explain what is the builder's responsibility and what is yours to maintain. They will go through the details of your home warranty and how to request service should you need it.
Purchasing a new condo can feel like a big process, and in many ways it is, but it should also be an enjoyable one. Have fun in the research process. Condo living is an exciting opportunity for change. Enjoy the process of dreaming, deciding your likes and dislikes, exploring show homes and peppering sales teams with questions.
Ultimately, purchasing a new condo comes down to navigating your options and choosing the best for you. Enjoy the process!