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Home Inspection

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Tips For Condominium Hunters - By Clarion Home Inspections

Tips for Condominium Hunters

By Raul Poole –
Clarion Home Inspections

Buying your first condo can feel intimidating at first, but the process is a lot easier than you think. Your Realtor, lawyer and bank representatives can help guide you towards buying the right condominium.

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.

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. Follow your instincts

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 give up. 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 condos. Apartment condos usually have 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 decide 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 made up of renters, investors own the building and they may not share your standards of operation and maintenance. You may also find less of a sense of community in the building.

9. Light

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 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 longer 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 is your best investment.

11. Check and double check

If something bothers you a little on first sight, it'll bother you a lot when you live there. You shouldn't have to talk yourself into a $250,000 purchase, so think twice before you sign the deal. Check all documentation carefully and make a wise decision.

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