Savvy condo purchase begins with the builder
by Scott McLellan
Fall typically brings a flurry of new condo launches and if you’re a buyer contemplating getting into the market, the choices may seem overwhelming.
Let me help simplify the purchase decision process for you: Begin with the builder. The builder is vital to a project’s success. Choose the right one, and you can be reasonably assured that your future home or investment property will meet your expectations.
Seek out a builder who is experienced in condo development and construction. Research the builder’s history. Does the company have a proven track record and have the financial resources needed to fund a project from pre-construction sales through to occupancy? You want to have confidence when you put your deposit down on a condo unit that the building will get finished and you’ll be able to take occupancy a few years in the future – and not to be disappointed to learn down the road that your intended project has been cancelled.
Check out the builder’s sites and prior buildings. Remember the golden rule of real estate – location, location, location. This adage is as relevant today as it ever was with land prices soaring and prime sites hard to come by. The top builders tend to have the best sites in the most desirable neighbourhoods, on transit lines, close to shopping, restaurants and services. Condominiums on or in close proximity to transit, whether you are in downtown Toronto or in suburban locations such as Mississauga or Vaughan, make the best investments. They will have greater price appreciation and market appeal in the future than condo buildings in secondary locations.
See who is on the builder’s team. Does the builder use top architects and designers known for their excellent work? A beautiful building with superb interior design and well-planned suites will have more value, not just as an investment, but as a place you’ll enjoy living in and take pride of ownership in. A well-designed suite can pack a lot of efficiency into a compact space and maximize function. If you’re an investor buyer, you’ll be able to command higher rents and attract quality tenants.
Check out the level of finishes the builder offers as a standard. Everyone appreciates quality appointments such as stone countertops, stainless steel appliances, engineered hardwood floors and porcelain tile, and this add value to a suite. What amenities are offered? Is the builder offering amenities that are relevant to what you need and want? The best builders are on top of the trends, offering facilities such as outdoor landscaped terraces with barbecues and fire pits, lounges, theatre rooms, kitchens and party rooms for socializing with friends, and state-of-the-art fitness rooms. If you plan to raise a family in your condo, you may want a playroom in the building. If you work from home, a co-working space or a room to meet with clients could be on your wish list.
Investigate a builder’s track record. Do they complete their projects on schedule? What is their record with Tarion, the home warranty program? Have they had conciliations or claims against them? Obviously, you’ll want to choose a builder with an untarnished record and a reputation for delivering suites with zero deficiencies, along with excellent customer care.
If you begin your condo search with the builder and keep this advice in mind, odds are that you’ll find a suite you’ll be happy with and one that will provide financial benefits as it appreciates in value.
|Scott McLellan is Senior Vice President at Plaza.
Plaza recently earned the Highrise Builder of the Year honour at Tarion’s annual Homeowners’ Choice Awards for excellence in customer service.