1. Hire a professional Realtor® to represent you and your best interests. A good Realtor® will know the in’s and out’s of building complexes in your target area, and fight for your best interests (including best price, best terms, and best chances of winning any potential bidding war).
2. Make sure that you are pre-approved for mortgage financing before you start the search. This will help you know your budget, saving you time, money and potential heartache.
3. Be prepared to see a variety of building styles based on your price range. High rise, low-rise, and varying amenities will all come into play.
4. Consider condo fee’s into your overall monthly mortgage payments. Although you want to be sure that the strata you are buying into charges enough fee’s per month to cover any major building contingencies, keep in mind that often times the more amenities a building has, the higher the monthly strata fees are. Are you willing to sacrifice location or square footage for let’s say a pool?
5. Bringing us back to condo fees, once you find out what they are, learn exactly what the fee’s will include.
6. Be prepared to act fast and go in with the most intelligent and competitive offer you can. Condo’s are in high demand. If you see a unit you like, you will need to act quickly and put in an offer before someone else snaps it up.
7. Keep in mind the long term and seasonal comfort of the unit. For example, a southern exposure will be bight and sunny, however, it is likely to become very hot in the summer months. Are you prepared to purchase a portable air conditioner or fans to keep you comfortable, and are such devices permitted within the strata bylaws?
8. Do you have pets? If so, you must refine your search to only include buildings that will allow pets, and your pet in particular must be kept in mind (many strata regulations include bylaws about not only the amount and types of pets that are permitted, but their size as well).
9. Keep resale in mind! A studio apartment (for example) will be more difficult to re-sell.
10. Don’t sacrifice on location. If you want to be close to shopping, buy close to shopping. If you want to live close to work, then buy something close to work. If you want to live close to pubs and nightlife, then buy something close to pubs and nightlife. Keep in mind: You can always change the interior of a unit with renovations, but you can never change it’s location.
11. Note the condition of common areas like the lobby, elevator, stairwells, grounds and amenities. If there are peculiar smells, or if the building is run-down, there may be major underlying issues – consider buying elsewhere.
12. Find out who the other building occupants are. Are most residents young, old, families, etc and how does this age demographic fit into your life.
13. When you are ready to make an offer, make sure to listen to your Realtors® inside information. Your Realtor® will research what other comparable units in the building have recently sold for and help you prepare to make the best offer.
14. Once you have secured an accepted offer, be sure to read and review all strata documents you will be given – read meeting minutes, special meeting minutes, bylaws, etc so that you know exactly what issues may have been dealt with, or may be dealt with in the future (any major building issues for example will likely require additional strata fee’s, which means a higher monthly payment from you).
15. Keep your eye on the prize and be prepared to lose out on a deal – in this highly competitive market, the reality is that it’s likely to happen.