How to Buy a Condo in Vancouver

(December 18, 2013, posted in Buying)

Buying any piece of real estate can be overwhelming, which is why there is an entire industry of professionals working with buyers, such as yourself, looking for a new home. However, though buying a condo may at first seem less intimidating that buying a “whole house”, there is much more to the process than most buyers first realize.


PREPARATION

1. Work with Professionals – from your Realtor to a Mortgage Broker – the Real Estate industry has professionals for a reason. The amount of information and work that goes into one of the largest purchases you will ever make is extensive and professionals in the industry have knowledge and information that cannot possibly be garnered alone.

Having said that… I will also suggest strongly that you work with professionals you like – a LOT!! There doesn’t tend to me a shortage of Realtors in most cities so don’t go for the first one you see in the paper or meet at an open. Give them your information, go for a coffee and see what they come up with – don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions. There is nothing wrong with asking to be referred to someone else if you don’t click with this individual. Chances are if you’re not feeling the love…neither are they and you’d both be better off working with someone else.

2. Know your Numbers – following your pre-approval for a mortgage, sit down with your Broker and go over all the final closing costs of purchasing a new home. From moving to legal fees to taxes, there’s a lot more added to the final bill than just the purchase price. Knowing what those numbers are and where you stand will enable you to really shop well and negotiate with confidence. You have to know what’s in your wallet to feel good about moving forward on any major purchase.
3. Hire a good real estate lawyer – if you don’t have one, your Realtor should know a few and can recommend the right person for you.

THE SEARCH

4. Until you know exactly what you want, take the time to see a few different styles such as low-rise and high-rise, as well as, buildings with a variety of amenities to offer – the more you know about what is out there, the stronger your ability to negotiate on the condo you eventually choose.

5. Get to know the neighbourhood(s) you are looking in. If you can, visit the neighbourhood during different times of the day to get a feel for the rhythm and different community attributes.

6. Be open minded to people’s different tastes and styles. Too often Buyer’s are turned off by the way a unit is decorated when really those superficial aspects can be easily changed. It’s the size, layout and building quality that can’t be altered.

SELECTION

Once you’ve narrowed your search down to exact criteria, it’s time to make some choices…

7. Choose and purchase the largest unit you can afford. Studios and one bedrooms will always be tougher to resell than a unit with more square footage and when you are living in a condo, every single square foot matters.

8. Find a good view. Remember you will be sharing your everyday life with this view of the world so make sure it is something you enjoy looking at but also avoid the layout where the windows face oncoming traffic as headlights can be harsh in the evening and will make it harder to enjoy evening views, especially in the winter months.

9. If possible, choose a condo with a parking spot and a storage unit. If you don’t require one or the other, you can always rent it out and make some extra money.

10. Find out the ratio of renters to owners in the building. Some rental units are okay but typically a building with a high ratio of rentals (anything above 20%) will suffer more wear and tear over the years and could affect your resale potential.

11. Find out the condo / strata fees, as well as the property taxes and always find out exactly what you get for your monthly condo fees. Your Realtor can help you assess whether or not the charge at a building is appropriate based on their knowledge and market research.

MAKING AN OFFER

12. Discuss and listen to your Realtor based on comparables, recent solds in the area and the building, market conditions, listing history and assessed value. This is a crucial and strategic phase during the process that can be stressful but this is why you started out by choosing a very good Realtor. Now you can rely on them to get you the best price and terms possible.

GOOD LUCK!