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Don’t Buy a Toronto Condo From a Builder Without Reading This!

Condo living in Toronto can be so exciting…the view! The amenities! The convenience!

As more young people and couples are being priced out of the Toronto real estate market for detached homes, many are turning to condos, and condos now need to fulfill much more than the basic checklist. They need to offer a lifestyle people will enjoy and be proud of. Condominium planners, knowing this, are having to innovate with more and more excitement and style to try and capture their share of the market. If you are considering purchasing a Toronto condo from a builder, this makes for a great opportunity for you to find something that truly suits you, and which offers a whole package that meets your needs.

These days, there are so many new condominium projects in the Toronto area it can be hard to choose. When you’re ready to visit a builder’s sales office, ideally you’d take along a Realtor, as you should know that the builder’s salespeople – no matter how well they may be trained to give an impression to the contrary – are working for the builder. Not for you. Not in your best interests. They have no obligation to tell you things you might like to know, had you known you don’t know them. Get it? Good. :) A Realtor has seen the tricks of the trade, been in many condo buildings and probably some sales offices, and can help you navigate the process to YOUR advantage. They also get paid by the builder without adding anything to your purchase price, so there is nothing to lose and much for you to gain in doing this.

Here are a few more tips to take along with you:

Suite Location: Look at the floor plans. Ensure the suite you choose is not too close to the elevator bank and the garbage chute: both will be noisy at night, potentially disturbing you. You may wish to avoid the 13th floor (or the 14th floor if there is no 13th), as even if you are not suspicious many people are, which is something to consider for when it comes time to sell. Lastly, ask about the surroundings and any development plans that may block your view in the future; the salesperson is not obligated to disclose this information to you unless you ask.

Builder Reputation: A condominium is a corporation, and once yours is built it will be run as such. You will own a proportionate share of all the common elements of your building, in addition to your own suite, and you will pay a monthly maintenance fee for your share of common element expenses. Should major repairs (eg. pool repair) come up, those expenses will be partially yours to bear in most cases. Corporation mismanagement can also end up costing residents unduly. Look for a company that has experience and a good track record in creating quality, well-constructed buildings. If there is an existing tower already, ask residents you see how they are enjoying it, if there have been any issues, etc.. It’s your money, and it’s your right to investigate! I’d suggest you google the builder, and you can also visit http://www.tarion.com/_layouts/buildersearch/builder_search.aspx for any Tarrion New Home Warranty complaints the builder may have on record, and how/if they were resolved.

Pricing and Terms: Remember, everything is negotiable. You can make an offer to the builder for what you want at a lesser price than what is offered on the ‘price sheets’ and add in requested upgrades, etc.. It’s not common knowledge, but it’s definitely done. They are there to sell condos, and they want happy customers. They also have lots of competition for your dollars. Ask for everything you want! The worst they can say is no, but often they will negotiate and/or give you benefits they would not have if you didn’t ask. Also, be sure to get a pre-approval for financing, ideally from both your bank and an alternate lending company, to compare with any financing options the builder may offer you. Be sure you understand the terms of the various lending options: interest rate is only one key component of a good mortgage. You can save a lot of money down the line with such options as portability, early and extra payment options, and lower fees for cancellations. The options vary greatly and can mean tens of thousands of dollars difference, so shop wisely and be informed.

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Photo Credit: The amazing Bryson Gibbons at http://brxson.com