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Condo Living – Is it right for you?
After a few flat years, the Ottawa condo market started picking up steam in 2016 and continues to be a popular choice for Ottawa buyers today. Lower inventory levels and higher prices in the residential market have helped to increase activity in the condo property class. According to the Ottawa Real Estate Board “September  sales included 436 in the condominium-property category, an increase of 26.4 % from September 2018”.
There are many advantages to owning a condo, maintenance is a big one. Typically, condo dwellers have little or no external maintenance. Not only is there no grass to cut or snow to shovel, but for those who like to travel the only thing you have to worry about is making sure your door is locked. Sound appealing? Read on for some tips about things you’ll want to consider when purchasing a condo to live in, or as an investment.
Start the selection process by deciding on the area of Ottawa that you would like to live in. Some of the factors to consider are; easy access to public transit, can the LRT or connecting buses help us to get to work/school/shopping? If you can take a bus/LRT combination do you still need to own a car? If not, can you use some of the car savings to purchase a larger or better equipped condo? Depending on the location and the condo building, a parking spot can also significantly impact the purchase price.
Consider your lifestyle or the lifestyle of tenants you would like to attract. Do you want to be able to walk to restaurants, pubs, parks, shopping, a gym or a yoga studio? Are childcare and schools nearby? Are there medical facilities and hospitals in the area? Are there community associations that you may want to join? What are the demographics of the neighbourhood? Once you decide what is important in terms of location and lifestyle, your real estate representative will find properties that match your criteria saving you valuable time and energy. An experienced agent will also be able to recommend areas and condo buildings you may not have considered.
Before entering the building, check the outside to see if the grounds are well kept and the exterior is clean and well maintained. Look for notices of group fitness classes and get-togethers in the elevator and lobby. These are indicators of an active and friendly building.
When you first walk into a prospective unit stop and look around and again check for strong smells and the use of heavy air fresheners. Another factor to consider is the orientation of the unit. What direction does the balcony or your primary window face? Normally looking South West is considered the best exposure. What floor are you on? Do you like to be closer to the ground or the higher the better? Normally higher floors are quieter, you have less street sounds, but the price may be is higher as well. Always check the age of the condo, if it is older the fees may be higher. What is the demographic in the building?
What is the floor plan of the condo, how many bathrooms are there and how is the kitchen organized? Are the appliances included and how old are they? The exact size/square footage of your condo unit is very important. This will help you and your REALTOR® to calculate possible prices. Check to see if there have been upgrades such as premium counter tops and porcelain tiles, crown molding and upgraded kitchen cabinets.
Ask to see the storage locker. Is it big enough for your skis, bikes and camping gear? Take a tour of the building to check out all the shared amenities such as a gym, party room and pool. Is there any guest parking and at what is the cost? Building security is also an important consideration. Always check about Airbnb rules in the condo building.
Unlike a residential house, condo units have fees fess that, as an owner you must pay. The condo corporation is responsible for the maintenance of the building and for allocating funds from your condo fees to the reserve fund. Check with your Real Estate Agent REALTOR® to see if the reserve fund is sufficient.
Be ready to act quickly. In this market, if you wait too long the unit will be gone. Ensure you are pre-qualified for financing and always be aware of closing costs including legal, city taxes, levies, monthly utility fees, land transfer tax, condo maintenance fees and insurance.
Buying a home is very exciting. If a condo is the type of property, you and your family are looking for, then this is the time to move and move quickly! When making a big financial a life changing decision, enlist the help of a true professional. Always work with a Real Estate Agent REALTOR® who has experience selling condos. With your representative at your side protecting your interests, consider these factors.
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