As the cost of living goes up, many Canadians are rediscovering the joys of urban living and buying condos. Before taking a leap into the condo world, you should check out these 25 tips for smart condo buying.

Condo sales are at an all-time high. In many cities, people are rediscovering the joys of living downtown close to the city’s amenities again, along with the low-maintenance easy lifestyle that goes with having your very own castle in the clouds.

BEFORE YOU START YOUR SEARCH:

1) Hire a professional Realtor that understands what is involved in purchasing a condo and to help with the buying process. This is very important as buying a condo can be quite different than purchasing a house.

2) Make sure you have a good lawyer that also understands condominiums.

3) Seek financial qualification, to determine how much mortgage you can afford.

4) Crunch the numbers with your financial banker or mortgage broker; you will need to put money aside for closing costs, moving, land transfer tax and lawyers’ fees.

DURING THE CONDO HUNT:

5) Be prepared to see a variety of styles: low-rise, high-rise, condos, lofts, with or without amenities such as a concierge or recreation facilities.

6) Depending on how long you plan on owning your unit, will depend on how big you should purchase. Make sure there is room to grow. This is where it is crucial to work with a Realtor that really understands the lifestyle and maybe even experienced it firsthand.

7) Visit the neighbourhood at different times of the day and evening. Does it suit you?

8) Choose a handsome view. Not only will it make day-to-day life more appealing, but it helps with resale later.

9) Southern and Western exposures are most desirable with the best resale but units can get quite warm.

10) Avoid a layout that looks out over the garbage pick-up area.

11) Avoid a suite that overlooks the garage entrance and the coming and going of vehicle traffic.

12) If you fall in love with a unit and notice that it is beside or across from the elevator, keep in mind that you are in a very high traffic area. Does this bother you?

13) A parking space is highly recommended. Even if you don’t drive, you can always rent it out.

14) A locker is also highly recommended. There is rarely if ever enough storage space in a condo.

15) Find out about visitor parking. How many spaces are available? What are the rules? Some places only allow 7-10 overnight visitor passes per unit in a given month.

16) With a resale condo, examine the appliances and wear and tear on the suite closely.

17) Note the condition — and aroma — of the lobby and common areas such as hallways and stairwells.

18) Find out who the occupants of the building are: mostly owners or tenants? Owners are preferable.

19) Find out the monthly condo maintenance fees and what exactly they include (and don’t include).

20) What are the property taxes? Are they included in the maintenance fees?

21) Chat with other owners and ask about their experience in the building.

DURING OFFER TIME:

22) Visit the suite at least twice, if you can, before making your offer.

23) Know what comparable suites in the building and in the area have sold for.

24) As for offer price, listen to and discuss with your condo Realtor.

25) When you are ready to make an offer, make it conditional on your lawyer reviewing the Condominium Documents, including the Status Certificate and financing.

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