Buying a home is the biggest single purchase most people will ever make, and because it’s such a rare occurrence, a lot of people don’t really know what to look for. Buying a condo is also very different from buying a detached house: you share walls, expenses, and common areas with all of the other residents which can make everything much more complicated. While your Realtor is there to help you through the whole process, it’s a good idea to make sure you know what’s going on too. Here are some tips for buying a condos in Vancouver:
- Is it in within your budget? Usually the first thing people will do when they start looking for a home is contact their Realtor so that they can start looking at places right away. The first question the Realtor will ask is whether or not you’ve been pre-approved so that they know exactly what your budget is. Buyers will often guess or look at an online calculator, but you’ll need a firm number to work with to avoid any complications or wasted time.
- How is it priced? A seller’s expectations can be the deciding factor as to whether or not a property actually sells. Make sure to have your Realtor go through some comparables with you, which should include both sales in the area, and current active listings.
- How’s the location? A perfect location will be different from buyer to buyer. It can depend on price, amenities, transit, schools, or any number of other factors depending on their lifestyle. Kitsilano may be perfect for a buyer that loves the beach, while Coal Harbour may be perfect for someone looking for a view of the water.
- How’s the layout? A clean, open floor plan can make all the difference both for you and for future buyers when you decide to sell your condo. Hallways can create a lot of wasted space, especially in a 1-2 bedroom home, and can make a 700 square foot condo feel smaller than one that’s 600 square feet.
- How old is the building? Buying an older home can be a fantastic opportunity, but it presents its own challenges as well. If the home was built in the 1990s, check if it’s rainscreened, if it’s built before 1990, there’s potential for asbestos. While certain materials like stucco were extremely common in the 1990s, it can be a cause for concern without doing your due diligence.
- Has it been renovated? Renovations can make a 30 year old condo feel brand new, but it’s important to make sure that all upgrades were done with the required approvals and permits, and that they were done by a professional. Homeowners will often renovate on their own, and it can show in the details so be sure to check for things like gaps in the floorboards, and ask questions.
- What’s happening nearby? Vancouver is constantly changing and being developed to accommodate the population growth. Construction of new properties could mean years of additional traffic, noise from construction, and blocked views. If it’s a larger development, traffic issues could continue as more people move into the area.
- How are the documents? Strata documents such as meeting minutes, annual general meeting minutes, and depreciation reports can all include information that can make or break a purchase or sale. It is CRUCIAL to review these to see if there are any past, present, or future issues with the building. You may think you’re getting a great deal on a unit, but it could be because of upcoming special levies.
- What are the restrictions? While you’re reviewing the strata documents make sure to check the bylaws: that’s where you will find information that could include rental limitations, pet restrictions, or age restrictions. If you have four dogs, smoke, and are wanting to occasionally AirBNB your place out, it’s not going to be easy.
- Find the right Realtor for you! Most people will already know a Realtor or can be referred to one by a family member or friend, but it’s important to work with someone that you trust, and that you connect with. Every Realtor will do things a little bit differently so make sure you’re on board with their plan, and make sure it’s someone that will genuinely look out for your best interests.
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