Buying

Can I Afford a Condo in Toronto?

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It is no secret that condo prices in Toronto are high, but how high are they? 

During the first quarter of the year, condo prices have increased by 3.6%. With this increase, the average condo price in Toronto is now $600,000. These high and crazy prices have made it difficult for many homebuyers to afford and even consider condo living in this city. 

Are Condo Prices Expected to Keep Rising?  

While condo prices certainly rose during the first quarter, this was actually the slowest increase since 2015. The price per square foot for a condo also saw its lowest increase since 2014, which was only 3.3% or $683. This may mean the market is slowly cooling off but if you have any plans to purchase a condo in the future, you will still want to prepare accordingly. The average price for a 3-bedroom condo in the city is $800,000 while a studio condo will still cost you half a million dollars. 

Additionally, condos may become more affordable in the future due to their heavy supply. According to Urbanation, during the first quarter of 2019, there were 71,378 condo units under construction.

How to Improve Your Chances of Purchasing a Condo in Toronto

If you are interested in purchasing a condo in Toronto, you will need to prepare. The high prices will make it harder to qualify and become approved for a mortgage. Here are just a few things to consider before you seriously begin the house hunt. 

Improve Your Credit Score

Your credit score tells lenders about your financial history and habits. If you have a high score, lenders are more likely to let you borrow large sums of money and you will qualify for lower interest rates. If your credit score is low, it is in your best interest to work on improving it before the pre-approval process.  

Pay Off Your Debt

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Your debt not only plays a role in your credit score but also in whether a lender will approve your loan. Ideally, all of your debts should not exceed 40% of your gross income. These debts include your housing, automobile, consumer debts, etc. If you have a substantial amount of debt, work on lowering it before you jump into the real estate market. 

Work With a Qualified Real Estate Agent

If you are interested in purchasing a condo or another housing option in the Toronto area, you want to work with a qualified real estate agent. This professional knows the ins and outs of the market and can help you find a home that you will love and can afford. Make sure to discuss your budget with your agent and some of the features you want and desire in your next house.  

While there are signs of the condo market slowing down, prices are still significantly high. Be prepared for purchasing a home by improving your credit score, paying off debt, and working with a qualified agent who can help you find the right home at the right price. 

Get in touch to learn more. 

Who’s Responsible for Repairs in a Condo?

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So you’ve purchased your new condo, or you are thinking about it. You're probably feeling really excited and a little overwhelmed. One of the main reasons you might be purchasing a condo is the lack of maintenance that you have to do. No snow to clear, no lawn to cut. You can basically lock the door and be on your way. But what if something happens inside your new condo? Or what if the window starts to leak? Who fixes that? Is that something that you have to pay for?

Some upkeep is done by the condo owners, and some is done by the condo corporation. To make matters more complicated, no two condos are alike. You will be required to do some research on the building you are interested in.

Condo owners are responsible for paying for the ongoing maintenance and repair of their units. The condominium declaration will define the unit’s boundaries. It may or may not include what is behind the walls, so it is advised to have your legal representative look over the declaration.

The Corporation is responsible for covering the costs of ongoing maintenance of common elements of the condo such as the parking lots and main lobby. Normally, some of your monthly condo fees will be put towards paying for these items.

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Some things to consider:

Timing

The Condominium Act requires that unit owners make sure repairs are done within a reasonable timeframe.

Damage

The Act requires that the corporation fix the condos and common elements immediately after damage, however, this obligation is typically altered by the corporation’s declaration. That is why it is important to read the document.    

Costs

The corporation uses funds from your condo fees to repair any damages. They cannot refuse to fix damages because of a financial shortage. They can, within some rules, raise your fees, or do a special assessment, or take a loan to top of the reserve fund.

Reserve fund

The Act requires the corporation to go through reserve fund studies from time to time to determine whether the corporation has enough funds for any upcoming repairs.

Delayed work

Condo corporations may decide to defer certain recommended repairs or maintenance if it is not urgent or if there are financial constraints. However, there are always risks, such as the failure of equipment or structures, secondary damage, or minor repairs that can develop into major issues.

You want to have a look at all of the condo corporation documents before you enter into a deal to purchase a condo. Not taking the time to research could be costly.

Get in touch to learn more.

Real Estate Sales to Now Indicate School Catchment Area

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In an unprecedented, but welcome move, Realtor.ca has announced that they will start to add school catchment information to the property listing on their site. In essence, within the information offered about the property that is for sale, there will also be information regarding which school district the home falls under, which is indicative of the school your child would attend should you move to that location.

A long-time important consideration for parents and children when it comes to choosing where to live, the move by Realtor.ca to add this convenience to their site is the first part of a partnership with Local Logic. This partnership will see the addition of neighbourhood-specific lifestyle information on the site’s property listing, with schools being top priority.

Understanding Catchment Area

The catchment area is a geographically bound area, marked by specific GPS coordinates, whereby all children in that area attend a specific elementary, middle, and high school. The students who fall outside the area are listed as attendees of a different school, although with some exceptions, students outside of the area can attend. All schools have a catchment area, affiliated with them, and these may change depending on the number of students the school can take on, as well as how close or far the children live to their home.

Choosing a Home

When it comes to choosing a home, there are a lot of factors to consider, including price, age, location, and neighbourhood. And now, increasing numbers of people are looking at the school catchment areas within that neighbourhood. In fact, many parents are choosing where they would like their child to attend school and then only looking for houses in that area. While this makes sense if you are particularly set on a specific school, be aware that catchment areas change and that if the school is already at capacity, your child may be denied attendance and sent to another school which has more space.

Converting to a Sale

From a real estate agent’s perspective, the addition of this new information is not only available for our clients and to maximize their experience, but it also increases lead conversion. The research has shown that when consumers can interact with neighbourhood data, they are “three times more likely to convert into a lead,” and offer a realtor a chance to pursue a sale.

This is good news for the cities where the information is already offered, including Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, Ottawa, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Regina, Halifax and several other Ontario suburbs. With the plan to have many more integrated into the system within the next month, there are also plans to offer an additional feature which will allow parents to search for a specific school within the catchment area, or search by school type, such as elementary or high school.

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Early interactions indicate strong engagement with the data, with a high degree of interest from consumers, including parents and young children. It is also proving useful for those people indirectly affected, such as future owners wondering about bus routes or school speed routes that may impact their daily commute time.

If you are looking to find a home in a particular school catchment area, please let me know. I am happy to work with you to identify the location that will best suit your family’s needs and allow your children to attend the most fitting school.