Toronto Condo Buyers Guide


In the market to buy a Toronto condo in 2020? Here, we will discuss all the things you’ll need in your purchase decision.

What Actually is a Condo?

Even in Toronto alone, the term “condo” can mean several different things for different people.

However, the most common definition for condo is for a high-rise building, which is indeed the most common type of condos in Toronto.

However, the term condo actually refers to a specific type of ownership, as governed by the Condominium Act, 1998. When you purchase a condo unit, you are purchasing for more than your individual unit, but also the common elements that are shared with other owners within the condominium corporation. 

Condominium Corporation

Condominium corporation is a legal entity that is registered at a land registry office. When you purchase a condo unit, you become a part of a community under this condominium corporation. So, you are now subjected to your corporation’s governing documents

Common Elements

Common elements are aspects of the corporation that are shared by all the condo owners.

Common elements are aspects of the corporation that are shared by all the condo owners. This can differ with each condominium corporation, but usually will include things like the lobby, hallways, stairways, pool and gym (if any), gardens, and parking lot, among others. In some corporations, structural aspects like plumbing and electrical work might be included.

Common Expenses Fees

Due to your ownership (and responsibility) for these common elements, you are obliged to pay for common expenses fees (also called maintenance fees or other similar terms), which are usually paid monthly. The common expenses fees will typically cover things such as:

  • Maintenance and repair costs for the common elements
  • Insurance policies
  • Utility costs (might vary depending on your condo corporation)
  • Garbage services, snow removal services, and other services
  • Cost of your condominium management
  • Vendor cots (cleaners, landscapers, repair and maintenance labor costs, etc.)

Your condominium corporation is required to maintain a reserve fund, which is typically consists of the accumulation a portion of your monthly common expenses fees.

The reserve fund will be used in need of major repairs, but in cases where the reserve fund is not sufficient to pay for repairs, all of the condo owners must contribute to the total costs. These special assessments can sometimes be very expensive.

New VS Resale Condos

Both options have their own perks, so consider your options carefully.

You can either choose to buy a new, recently constructed condos (or you can buy it before it is built), or the ones sold by the previous owner. Both have their own benefits and disadvantages:

Pros of buying new condos:

  • Usually less expensive, especially if you buy the unit before it has been built.
  • You have more versatility in choices, like choosing view or location, and in some cases you can ask for specific requests (type of flooring, kitchen additions, etc.)

Cons of buying new condos:

  • You are usually obliged to pay for Tarion warranty fees, as well as HST
  • It will take time before you can occupy or actually own the condo. Construction can last several years and delays are pretty normal
  • Projects can be cancelled due to various reasons. You will get refunded, but it will be a waste of time.
  • Common expenses fees might change once the construction is finished

Pros of buying resale condos:

  • You can survey the unit before you buy it, so there’s no guesswork involved
  • You can read reviews or hire a realtor,and find the condo corporation that will fit your exact needs
  • You can check the legal documents and history of common expense fees, so you can have a more accurate estimates
  • Better sense about the surrounding locations, and more often than not the condo is located in an already-established area

Cons of buying resale condos:

  • Typically more expensive than a comparable new unit 
  • Less flexibility regarding design choices, view, location, etc. 

As you can see, both options have their own perks, so consider your options carefully. The tips we’ll share below will help you in making your decision.

Tips in Buying a Condo

Remember to plan your budget ahead, and pick the right timing for the purchase.

Now that we are at the same page regarding the definition of “condo”, it’s time to discuss some important steps when purchasing a condo.

1. Prepare Your Finances

Here, you should consider two different things: how much you can actually afford, and how much you are willing to spend. As we have discussed above, there will be additional costs besides the purchase price of your condo unit:

  • Common expenses fees
  • Utility costs
  • Possible legal and realtor fees
  • Property tax and land transfer tax
  • Insurance
  • Home inspection cost
  • Moving costs
  • Special assessment costs and other additional costs
  • Your mortgage, including mortgage insurance

Especially in condo purchase, you should consider how much you are comfortable to spend in common expenses fees. While a condo’s purchase price might be appealing, you should also consider the additional costs associated with it.

2. Finding The Right Condo For You

There are generally three important factors to consider when buying a condo unit:

  1. Location: an obvious factor for any property purchase. Make sure you are comfortable with your neighborhood, and depending on your needs, consider the proximity of schools, hospitals, parking lots, and other facilities.
  2. Common elements: as a condo owner, you’d need to pay for the maintenance of all the common elements within the condo corporation, so make sure to consider the ones with the amenities you’ll need and actually use.
  3. Your unit: besides the obvious factors like your preferences for your unit in size and designs, consider the boundaries between your unit and the common elements. Also, consider your potential maintenance and repair obligations.

3. Timing Is Key

If you are going to purchase a new condo, the sooner you buy, the more profit you’ll make.

Toronto’s condo prices are currently in a relatively slow growth. However, the price is still increasing year by year, and some new condos can climb in price much higher than the market average. So, sooner is always better.

For resale condos, remember that Toronto real estate market usually slow down in winter, and usually sellers are more flexible with their prices.

End Words

Buying a condo certainly has its own perks, and the things we have discussed above will help you to plan ahead and choose the best possible options for you. Remember to plan your budget ahead, and pick the right timing for the purchase so you can make the most of your hard-earned money.

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