10 Tips For Buying a Condo in Toronto

Posted by Simone Garcia

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More people are buying condos in Toronto than ever before. And while acquiring a condo in the city can prove a valuable investment down the road, there are also pitfalls if you don’t make an informed decision on your building and unit. Keeping the following tips in mind will save you money, time, and the mental trauma of spending half your monthly pay cheque on unused maintenance fees.

Here are 10 tips for buying a condo in Toronto.

1. Know your location, and know it well
You probably already have a good idea of where you’d like to live. Still, before sealing the deal on anything, be sure to check out proximity to grocery stores, transit, schools, or any other relevant amenities. Some resources available to you in this capacity is this very site’s neighbourhood guide, theTDSB’s school finder, and the city of Toronto’s neighbourhood rankings.

2. Don’t be afraid to ask/pay for upgrades
If you’re shelling out mad cash for a pre-owned condo, do not hesitate to ask the former owners for upgrades before your move-in date. If you’re buying pre-constructed, it pays to invest in the right upgrades right off the bat. You’ll reap the rewards later. What should you do? Here are two lists of suggestions for Toronto condo upgrades.

3. Assess the building’s overall physical condition, inside and out
Some faults are easy to spot, while others pose more of a challenge. Hiring a home inspector is less common for condo units, but the investment is typically minimal ($100-200), and could prevent a lot of headaches down the line. Find a home inspector using this directory. Another option? Bring an experienced friend/relative/advisor.

4. Meet the building staff
This one is pretty much a given – if you like the people working there, chances are you’re going to like living there. Plus, if ever anything should go wrong with your unit, it pays to have the staff on your side. The same rule applies should you need to bend the rules: extra parking passes are a sweet, sweet gift.

5. Research the condo developer and corporation
You don’t want to put your faith in a developer with little experience building condos nor you certainly do you want to be buying into a place that’s loaded down by debt. Researching those who are behind the construction and management of your condo is crucial. Review the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s tip sheet for buying a condo, which covers the basic research you should do.

6. Make sure you won’t lose your view
What’s being built next door? If another sky-high condo is in the works and threatening to block your hard-earned view, you may want to steer clear. You might be able to check this just by touring the neighbourhood on foot, but you’ll want to also check the Toronto Development Applications website.

7. Evaluate the building’s current residents
Is your home to be comprised mostly of renters? Do the current residents seem loud, or, on the other hand, intolerable of noise? Your condo’s demographics are likely to have some impact on resale value – not to mention the happiness of your residence there. This can’t be internet research; you have to speak to staff and current residents to sketch the picture.

8. Ask your realtor to provide you with a detailed history of the place if it’s been previously owned, and to provide you with a future projection of the resale price
Condos.ca is a good resource for some of this information, but it’s a good idea to test the mettle of your real estate agent. Find out how much the unit sold for previously and try to determine how much money you can expect to make down the line. Market trends change, but it’s key to go through these exercises before buying.

9. Buy a parking space if you can
It might sound counter intuitive with condo dwellers increasingly giving up on car-focused lifestyles, but even if you don’t drive, if you’re buying a new condo, make sure to fork out for a parking space. When it comes time to sell, you’ll thank yourself for it.

10. Beware of occupancy fees
There’s always a period of time between when you take occupancy of your condo and the building becomes officially registered in Ontario, during which you must pay occupancy fees or what is sometimes called “phantom rent” (because it doesn’t go to your mortgage). This is unavoidable, but the period is generally shorter when dealing with 1) experienced developers and 2) the higher up your unit is (low floors move in sooner).


What Toronto’s Tallest Penthouse Condo Looks Like

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Posted by Derek Flack

The soaring Aura condo tower at Yonge and Gerrard – Canada’s tallest – is a place of extremes. While the mall at the base of the building is already half abandoned, the penthouse units at the top of the building, sitting some 80 storeys high, are the very definition of prestige and luxury.

There are three penthouse units at the top of Aura, and though none of them will compete for the most expensive in the city – that distinction goes to the Four Seasons in Yorkville – the largest of the condos (#7910) runs at over $3 million for roughly 3,000 square feet of space.

Photos by Matt Forsythe.

Looking to Buy or Sell a Home in 2017?

Book a free consult with Modern Family Realtor and receive a free $25 Tim’s card. Looking to buy a home in 2017? Read below to see what industry experts are predicting for Toronto.

(Article via Tess Kalinowski, thestar.com)
zu-emj22x0o-nadine-shaabanaInterest rates

The inching up of interest rates and more stringent mortgage rules are among the factors that could play a role in tempering sales in the hot Toronto region market, says Jason Mercer, director of market analysis for the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB).

Those influences could be enough for some households to put a home purchase on hold. But Mercer says most consumers will look for other choices in order to pursue their home ownership dreams.

“If you were thinking of buying a single detached home in Toronto, maybe now you’re looking at purchasing in one of the surrounding regions or you’re going to change both your home type and the geography you’re looking for,” he said.

The Trump effect

Bond yields have already risen, leading to those marginally higher mortgage rates.

But whether the inauguration of Donald Trump will ripple into the housing market is all part and parcel of the global economy, said Mercer.

“Obviously any factor that could affect the economy from a positive or negative perspective has to be taken into account,” he said.

Tim Hudak, CEO of the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA), which represents 40 real estate boards across the province, is optimistic.

“There certainly seems to be a view that the American economy will grow faster now,” he said.

But that puts pressure on U.S. interest rates, which will force a decision around our own interest rates or letting our currency drop.

“Particularly in the GTA, real estate is a great investment. As the expression goes, we’re not making any more of it,” said Hudak.

To read more about supply and demand, condos, competition for homes, and first time buyers, click here for the full article.

Real Estate Board Predicts ‘Policy Ceiling’ Will Curb Toronto Homes Prices

The Globe and Mail

Average Price of a GTA Home Up More Than $100,000 in a Year

real-estate-jpg-size_-custom-crop_-1086x723House prices in April were 16.2% higher than in April 2015, according to the Toronto Real Estate Board.

The average sale price for Toronto area homes last month was $739,082, more than $100,000 higher than the average of $636,094 in April 2015, reflecting a demand for higher priced properties, said the Toronto Real Estate Board.  (CARLOS OSORIO / TORONTO STAR) 

Condo Market Joins in Toronto’s Real Estate Boom

The Globe and Mail

The bidding melees that have flummoxed Toronto house hunters for years are erupting with increasing frequency in the condo market.

A one-bedroom-plus-den near Trinity Bellwoods Park on Queen Street West recently landed on the market with an asking price of $499,000. Robin Pope, of Pope Real Estate Ltd., took a pair of buyers to see the unit and told them it was under-priced, based on recent sales in the building. He estimated a more realistic selling price was around the $565,000 to $570,000 level.

The unit drew 13 offers and sold for $585,000.

“There really isn’t very much inventory,” he says, when it comes to desirable units in good locations. There are huge numbers of condos in Toronto but buyers who want to live in them for a few years are choosy about the location and the size. Two-bedroom units are particularly hot.

The Queen West condo is in a sought-after neighbourhood and that’s likely why it attracted so much attention, he says, pointing out that there are only three other buildings nearby. Other areas in the core are much more saturated.

Mr. Pope specializes in Corktown, and in that popular neighbourhood, he says, contests are not limited to units for sale. Renters are also offering to outbid their rivals.

According to tallies recently reported by the market-research firm Urbanation, sales of new condo units surged 32 per cent in the first quarter of 2016 in the Greater Toronto Area compared with the same period last year. The 2016 tally came close to the first-quarter record set in 2012. Unsold inventory in new developments, meanwhile, shrank by 16 per cent in the first three months of the year compared with the same period last year.

Urbanation says the selling price for new units edged up 3 per cent to $582 a square foot in the first quarter compared with the same quarter in 2015. In the resale market, meanwhile, condo unit prices jumped 8 per cent to $467 in the three months to March 30th compared with the same period last year.

Shaun Hildebrand, Urbanation’s senior vice-president, says much of the swelling demand for condos comes from buyers priced out of the single-family home market.

He explains that new condo prices have been held back by a shift in development from the GTA core toward more new projects in the 905 area code.

Sales of new condos in the 905 more than doubled in the first quarter from the same period in 2015, he says.

Mr. Pope says buyers looking for a single-family house are battle-hardened because competition has been the norm for so long. To help his clients buy a small house on a 50-foot lot near Danforth and Greenwood Avenues, he had to not only keep increasing the couple’s offer but also try to outmaneuvre a rival agent.

The house, with an asking price of $749,000, was located on a dead-end street with a dog-friendly park nearby. His clients, who have two young children and a dog, loved the location.

Offers were set for a week or so later at 7 p.m. and Mr. Pope advised the clients to launch a bid of $911,000 as their opening salvo. He estimates there were seven or more competing parties in the fray.

“There were a lot of cars parked on the street.”

The listing agent went through the offers with the sellers and then told Mr. Pope and two other agents that they were the top three. Could they improve their offers?

Mr. Pope went back and told his clients they would have to pay more if they had their hearts set on that house. They decided on $955,000.

Mr. Pope submitted the offer and there was some more waiting around. Then the listing agent called him and told him “your offer is about to expire”. He had made it irrevocable until 10 p.m.

With each subsequent bid, the offer price changed but the other details did not. The agent asked for more time so that she could read through the offers still on the table with the sellers.

Mr. Pope thought it was odd that they hadn’t done so in the three previous hours but he told his clients this was a new opportunity. The bids must be close, he figured, or the sellers wouldn’t be wasting time poring over the details.

“This is a gift,” he said. “Pay $10,000 more.”

When Mr. Pope handed over a revised offer with an extension of the time the offer was irrevocable, he also increased the bid.

As he returned to the car, a competing agent waiting nearby asked if he had changed his offer. He told her he had changed the irrevocable without mentioning the change in price. After all, they were in competition and he was under no obligation to tip his hand, he explains.

He got back in the car with the clients and told them they were going to drive away.

“I wanted her to think that we had gone home and we were giving up. There was no need for her to hang around any longer.”

He pulled around the corner, parked the car, and he and the clients ducked down as they waited for the other agent to pass, he recalls with a laugh.

Mr. Pope’s clients got the house for $965,000. And all it took was a little subterfuge – in addition to the highest offer.

Removing all the conditions from a bid, launching a bully offer and attaching a heartfelt note are timeworn tactics now. Buyers are using any means to gain an edge.

Mr. Pope says the clients are ecstatic. Like so many house hunters at this time of year, they were exhausted by the race. The mom was a more seasoned real estate buyer but it was a first-time purchase for the dad.

“He was so happy to get the house. He was so happy not to be part of that zoo any more.”