If you live in Downtown Toronto, you won’t be surprised to hear that condos are quickly taking over the city. From the shores of Lake Ontario, to the formerly rural landscape of Richmond Hill, condo buildings are being developed throughout the GTA. Only a decade ago, 80% of the new homes that were being built were low-rise single family homes, but today 70% of the new homes under construction are condominiums.
According to Statistics Canada, nearly 2 million Canadians are living in condos across the country, so you may start to ask yourself, “Is condo living right for me?” This handy guide will help you decide if you're ready to live in a condominium of your own, or even if you’re ready to start investing in income properties.
Do You Love Living In The Middle Of It All?
While this certainly isn’t always the case, many condo towers are built in urban environments. This puts you at the heart of the action, surrounded by the hustle and bustle of modern urban life. Developers have zeroed-in on the overwhelming desire for convenience when it comes to living destinations. Development projects going up in and around the GTA's major employment hubs like the Financial District, Yonge and Eglinton, Yonge and Sheppard, and the downtown areas of Mississauga, Brampton and Burlington, have been purposely proposed for dense employment areas. Condo living next to work means no need to travel 1 hour to get from home to the office. For most condo dwellers, walking to work is an ideal option that many do take advantage of. You’ll typically be close to public transit too, putting the entire city within reach.
These buildings usually translate into dense populations, so businesses jump at the opportunity to capitalize. Most buildings come with a restaurant attached, and new businesses also open up around new condo buildings. If you’re the type of person who loves the idea of being able to work, shop, dine and play within steps from home, then condos may be something you want to look into. If you're investing in a condo to rent it out, you are more likely to rent it to a busy professional working in the city or in a pivotal employment zone. Another area that is likely to bear great investment returns are post-secondary school zones. Students attending one of the many colleges and universities in the GTA are often looking for off-campus living options near class. Either way, you're most likely to always have your condo rented when urban conveniences are close by.
How Important Is Your Yard?
Toronto is a concrete jungle, so you may not be surprised to hear that condos often result in sacrificing your yard. For this reason, some developers are including communal gardens, terraces, pocket parks, and outdoor amenity space in their new proposals. These outdoor spaces offer much more than just having a backyard. Welcome to landscaped and maintained areas that offer activities as well as areas to unwind, plus, you’ll never need to mow the lawn or weed the garden. You’ll also never need to worry about yard disputes with your neighbour. There’s little debating which balcony belongs to whom.
Are You Handy?
Are you the type of person that loves getting your hands dirty and fixing your own pipes or toilet? Are you ready to do a thorough inspection of the foundation of your house? Yeah, us neither. When you live in a condo, you’ll never need to worry about those things because you’re sharing the building with numerous other people.
While your building’s amenities certainly influence how much you pay in condo fees, in reality they’re mostly informed by the upkeep of the building itself. While it may seem that you’re paying an amount for reasons outside of your control, when you consider the expenses that come with major house repair, it all evens out.
Do You Love Luxuries?
Are you the type of person who loves the finer things in life? If so, condo living might just be for you. Most buildings come with a series of amenities that are shared with you and its other residents. The most common amenities are things like exercise rooms and communal terraces, but there are some developments with truly unique luxuries.
11 YV Condos has some exclusive amenities for the modern urbanite. They have a two storey lobby with concierge and porter service, sophisticated indoor-outdoor infinity pool, hot tub surrounded by fireplaces and black marble, fitness studio, men's and women's spa with hammam steam rooms, TV Lounge/Chef's kitchen, wine tasting/piano lounge, bordeaux lounge, theatre, business centre, kids recreation centre, pet spa, outdoor zen water feature and outdoor lounge area with BBQ.
Do You Like to Save Money?
Simply put, buying a condo is generally less expensive than buying a house. The numbers show that the median house price for a detached home in the GTA was $782,129 in September. TREB also reported that the median existing condo price is sitting at $602,000. That’s a difference of $180,129 that you can choose to spend or save-- and remember, a lower price point means a lower down payment and lower mortgage payments each month. Depending on your budget or the max loan amount you qualify for, the extra cost to own a house opposed to a condo for reasons like, more space may not be worth the extra money. A larger house also means more spaces to clean, repair and ultimately pay for. For instance, If you buy a house, you’ll need to worry about the structure itself. The roof, the exterior of the home, landscaping and more. With all those extra responsibilities come more money. Condo corporations take care of all exterior repairs from windows to balconies and some interior repairs too. However, it is very important to familiarize yourself with owner responsibilities for both house and condo properties to really decipher the type of lifestyle you prefer. What we can tell you though, is that living in a condo requires less attention and care which allows you to do a lot more with your time and money. If you’d like to lock your door and travel without worrying about maintenance, condo living is your best bet.
Speaking of time and money, living in a condo near work or public transit eliminates the need to own a vehicle. According to research done by Global News, vehicle expenses from gas to insurance, account for the third largest household monthly expense after housing and food- “If you include depreciation, owning your own vehicle costs between 8,600 and 13,000 a year”. Condo living allows you to ditch your car and save money, especially since condo buildings have included extensive bicycle locker space to use at no extra cost. If you're a young urbanite who enjoys cutting travel time and costs whenever you can, you probably value the option of being within walking distance to work too, who wouldn't? But if public transit is a must, the list of condos going up near major transit hubs are endless. Take The Forest Hill Condos for instance. This projects by CentreCourt Development will have direct access to the Crosstown LRT's Forest Hill Subway Station through it's lobby. Not to mention, many parts of the GTA have public transit improvement plans in the works which will serve as additional options to get you to work on time, sans vehicle.
As a condo investor, the changing landscape and needs of the public are important to take note of. If fewer people are willing to drive far distances on a daily basis, it is important to invest in areas near employment, schools, and transit for robust returns. Owning convenience isn’t going to be low-costing to buy into, however, owning in an attractive area demands higher rents and cuts down vacancy rates-- which equate to less out-of-pocket expenses.
Are You Ready To Own Your Home?
This is the million dollar question. Not everyone is in a place where they’re ready to own their home, so it’s important that you look at your finances with a critical eye before you invest in a condo. If you’re unsure, then let us help you!
If you’re on the other side of the spectrum and are looking to invest in income properties, then the items on this list are still important to consider. More and more, people are fitting into the condo dweller mold, so it’s never been a better time to invest!
Whether you’re looking to buy your first home, or you’re considering real estate investment, these are all important question to ask yourself before you take the plunge. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out!