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Condo shopping tips

Shopping for a condo is different than when looking to buy a house. Here are some of the things you should look for, ask about and consider when condo hunting.

Shopping for a condo

In many of Canada’s largest cities, but especially in Toronto, high-rise condos are going up in numerous neighbourhoods. Condos are often a more affordable way to get into the housing market. But when buying a condo, different factors need to be considered than when buying a home. Keep the following items in mind when comparing condominium units.

How you’ll use the space

Especially if you’re looking at condo units on the smaller end of the scale (some can be as few as 400 square feet), you need to thoroughly consider how you will use the space and how you will configure your furniture. If you look at an empty condo unit without considering, imagining and measuring, you may move in and find you don’t have enough room for your couch and television or that the narrowness of the main living space makes it impossible to fit a dining room table.

The condo fees

Condo fees are based on square footage, so the larger the condo you’re considering, the higher the fee. The rate per square foot will vary from building to building, so compare one to another with this in mind. The more amenities available (such as a gym, indoor or outdoor pool, etc.) will increase the fees. If you are looking at a newer building, know that many charge lower fees to attract buyers, so be sure to ask about the increases from year to year.

The number of renters in the condo building

Ideally you should look for a condo in a building that has a greater proportion of owners to renters. Often you may find that renters don’t put the same amount of care into the living space and common areas. (If the building is dominated by students, as some are known to be in Toronto, you may find living there feels like spring break every day.) In addition, the occupants of rental units move in and out fairly frequently, and this can take away from the feeling of security and stabliity that living with the same neighbours can create.

Look for units with a parking space and storage locker

Even if you don’t have a car, a parking space that comes with your unit is a valuable asset, given the limited number of parking spots in urban centres. You can always rent it out while you live there. Having a parking space will also make it easier to sell your unit once you are ready to. A storage locker is also a nice thing to have, since storage space can be low in many condos units.

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