5 Tips for Buying a Condominium

In a recent post, we looked at the challenges that millennials face to buy a home in the hot Toronto and GTA real estate market; challenges that their parents didn’t have, including record-high student debt and the availability of fewer full-time jobs.

But we also discovered that millennials enjoy a couple advantages in the real estate market that their parents didn’t have either.  The main advantage homebuyers have today over any others in recent memory is ongoing low mortgage interest rates. Yes, housing may be expensive, but it costs far less to borrow the money to buy one.

But there’s yet another advantage that is increasingly available across the GTA, especially here in Markham and York Region.

Condominium Apartments

While Condos were available 30 or 40 years ago, the market for them was not nearly as developed. Buyers did not have as much confidence in their value and, as such, condos were more susceptible to the downside pressures than most other types of housing.

The availability of condo apartments was also very limited in the 1980s. Mainly located in downtown Toronto and a few other centres, condos were virtually nonexistent in places like Markham, Richmond Hill and Stouffville

Today, the story is very different. The higher availability of condos give first-time homebuyers a lower-cost option to get into the real estate market and they give homeowners who want to downsize an investment that is as solid as any other type of housing.

That second point is important in light of the forces driving the red-hot market. One of the factors cited for the ongoing increases in home prices is the lack of supply. Many homeowners are hesitant to put their houses on the market because they have concerns about finding a new home. But for those who are downsizing, condos give them an option that makes sense. They can sell their current home, buy a lower-priced condo, and put the extra money in the bank – not to mention enjoying the lifestyle and amenities that condo ownership offers.

To give you an idea of the increase in the availability and popularity of condos as an investment, here’s a comparison of some housing statistics from just five years ago versus today.

  • Detached homes sold in Markham, March, 2012: 242
    Detached homes sold in Markham, March, 2017: 296
    Five-year increase in numbers of detached homes sold: 22.3%
  • Condominium apartments sold in Markham, March, 2012: 98
    Condominium apartments sold in Markham, March, 2017: 139
    Five-year increase in numbers of condominium apartments sold: 41.8%

That’s almost twice the rate of increase for condos sold versus detached homes sold. Yes, it’s just a comparison of a single month’s statistics and there are many other factors behind the numbers. But there’s no denying the increased popularity and availability of condos here in Markham and across the GTA.

If you’re considering the purchase of a condo as a way to get into the real estate market, or to downsize, here are just a few tips to help you make the move.

1. Get to Know the Location

Make sure you have the local amenities you want including things like parks, grocery stores and schools.

2. Get to Know the People Who Work in the Building

From security guards to cleaning and maintenance people, if you like them, you’ll probably like the condo.

3. Get to Know the People Who Live in the Building

Talk to someone who already lives in the building. Get their overall impressions. A building that has more people renting units from other owners can be quite different than one mostly occupied by the actual owners.

4. Research Development Plans

If you really like the view from a condo you want to buy, make sure it won’t be blocked by a building that hasn’t been constructed yet.

5. Beware of Maintenance Fees

Every condominium corporation charges a fee for the maintenance of the common areas of the building. Be sure to find out what those fees are and what they include and factor that into your budgeting.

If you’d like more information and advice about buying a condo in Markham, Richmond Hill or anywhere in York Region, please give us a call here at the Stephen Tar Team. We’re happy to help.