Are you thinking about shopping for a new condominium suite in 2016?
It’s never too early to start preparing for your search. The more educated you are when you visit presentation centres, the more likely you are to zero in on just the right suite for your lifestyle needs. A little preparation time now can make your search go smoothly and efficiently.
Of course, things may change in the new year, but spend some time with the mortgage consultant at your financial institution soon and ask about getting pre-approved for a mortgage. The best tool to help you build a solid residential future is knowing what you can afford – and you may be able to afford more than you think. Interest rates are still remarkably low, so it will pay in the long run to borrow money soon. Pre-approval is especially important for first-time buyers. Keep your eyes open for first-time buyer seminars, and find out early what is involved in buying a condominium in Ontario.
Nowadays, you can start your shopping at your computer! Likely, you have an idea of where you would like to live. Location tops the list of most home-shoppers, and across the Greater Toronto Area, you will find gorgeous choices in amenity-rich locales. Watch the web and media to find out which condos are on sale now and what might be coming onto the market soon. When you have time, try your work commute from potential residences during rush hour and see what you think. Can you walk to amenities, or will you have to drive or take public transit? And is public transit handy?
Shopping online allows you the luxury of looking through building and suite designs at your leisure. Will a building with a specific type of architecture satisfy your aesthetics? How many bedrooms do you need? Do the condo’s amenities appeal to you? Remember that architecture and amenities can play into the desirability of your suite if you are investing or if you should sell in the future. As for the suites, remember that even the most compact condo spaces today live larger than they may seem because of brilliantly efficient design. For fun, tour a couple model suites and walk through while holding the floorplan. Experience for yourself how the design translates into reality. You may be surprised at how livable a suite of a modest square footage can be.
If you will be moving to a condo from a large home, start de-cluttering now. Hire an organizer, host a yard sale, pass down family heirlooms to a child or grandchild, donate items to charity and consignment shops, sell or offer to give away through the Internet — even throw things out if they are beyond usefulness. As you put your hand on each item, think about whether you need it, and will it have a home in your new condo. Once you actually purchase a suite, you can use the floorplan and do another sweep of your possessions to determine what can go. Remember that if you will be selling an existing home, it will be more appealing if the rooms are uncluttered.
As you conduct your preliminary “search,” check out builders’ histories and reputations online. Also, visit the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s website at cmhc-schl.gc.ca and download the helpful publication “Homebuying Step by Step.” This guide even has worksheets and begins with a section on whether homeownership is right for you.
If shopping for a condo is in your near future, congratulations! The best advice I can give you is to buy sooner than later, and to buy NEW.
BARBARA LAWLOR is president of Baker Real Estate Incorporated and an in-demand columnist and speaker. A member of the Baker team since 1993, she oversees the marketing and sales of condominium developments in the GTA and overseas. Keep current with The Baker Blog at blog.bakerrealestate.com.