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Condo Shopping List

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Condo Shopping List
Toronto Condo Shopping List

I’m browsing the web for a list of things I need to do before and after I purchase a condo. I cant seem to find any consistent information. Is this something you can help me with?


Do you have a condo shopping checklist you give out to clients or do you have any advice?


By Swift Sells Toronto
Hi Pamela,
Thank you for your question regarding a condo shopping list. Let's see if I can help

 As you may know, there are many builders of condos in the GTA (greater Toronto area). Some good, some not so good. This first step for yourself is to do some research about an area you might be interested in living (Queen West, Liberty Village, Mid-Town). Check out some buildings that interest you - from listings or from the internet. Then research the builder of the condo and see what their reputation is for quality construction.


That’s a big step. With condos, there are new precautions for buyers. You definitely (NEVER MISS THIS STEP) want to see the financials of the condo corporation. If possible, one to two years of annual general meeting reports. About 10% of condo corporations in the GTA are on the verge of bankruptcy or their buildings are in such disrepair (due to failed maintenance of the property), that to buy into the building would be a huge mistake. To avoid this, always, always, always have a status certificate clause in any purchase and sale agreement for any condo corporation, no matter how big or small. Buyer beware.


The next thing on the “checklist” are the rules and regulations of the condo corporation. 



You want to check such things such as:


- Are BBQ’S allowed?

- Are pets allowed?

-If so, is there a weight restriction? 

- Am I allowed to rent out my suite or is there a limit on the number of rental suites in the building?

- What’s covered with my monthly maintenance fees - water, hydro, neither?

- Can I redecorate my suite or do I need permission from the condo board. 

- Are children allowed in the building? 

- Is there guest parking? 

-Do I have to pay for it?

- Is there a 24 hour concierge? 

- Can I get deliveries of packages at the building?

- Is it a smoking or non-smoking building? 

- Are there planned renovations or improvements that I will be responsible for paying? 

- Is there a special assessment upcoming to cover cost of repairs or upgrades in the building? 


Many of these questions should be discussed with your real estate attorney as they are reviewing the status certificate during your allowed time period - usually 3 business days after receiving the document.


Next on the checklist


- does the building have amenities that I want or need - a pool, gym, sauna, party room, business centre, etc.? 

- What do I need for amenities and which am I willing to pay for (this effects the monthly condo fees you will be           paying - more amenities more costs).



Location, location, location.


- What is your ideal area of living? 

- Do you need to be near public transit? 

- Do you have a car and need a parking spot or two? 

- If my unit comes with one, are there others to purchase or rent?

- Do I need a storage space or locker? 


Again any additional upfront expense or monthly rental expense.


- What are my taxes and monthly fees? 

- Has there been an increase in the monthly condo fees over the last two years? 

- What is the percentage of increase? 

- If you own a bike, is there bike storage? 

- Does it cost to store my bike? 

- Can I bring it into my unit or store it on my balcony (not likely). 

- Can I decorate the way I want? 

- Am I limited as to the colour of my curtain or blinds (often the answer is yes as to exterior appearance).



Condo living has it’s pluses and minuses.  You become part of a community and as a result the community has rules and regulations that have to be followed. 


- What’s the noise factor in the building? 

- Can I hear neighbours above or beside me? 

- What’s the building construction - concrete or wood? Can I hear dogs or children? 

- Can I open my windows or is there too much noise, dust, construction going on? 


This is very important in a city like Toronto where there seems to be  a new construction project happening every week.


- What’s the age of the building? 

- How has it been maintained? 


Older buildings need to have healthy reserve funds for such things as window replacement, elevator replacement, roof replacement, corridor refurbishing, etc.


Many newer projects in the GTA have had issues with inferior glass construction.  Several of these newer condos will have major glass replacement needs in 5 to 10 years verse the normal 30 years. Due to the newness of the buildings, the reserve funds will likely not cover this cost and a special assessment to the homeowners will be levied. This could be in the 10’s to 100 thousand dollars. Another must know before making your purchase.


Does the condo have enough floor space and are the unit layouts likely to provide for what my family needs?  This is an important consideration before purchasing for living or for investment.  Make sure that the space meets your needs.  Buying and selling is not a major concern.  Condos are increasing in value but not at the rate of single family homes, due to supply and demand.  Your costs increase with things like land transfer taxes and mortgage penalties, if you have one.


Condos come in different shapes and sizes.  There are co-ownership, co-ops and freehold condos in the GTA.  Each have their own unique characteristics. Co-ops require an approval from a Board of Directors before a new owner can acquire ownership.  There are also fewer mortgage possibilities due to the fact that you own shares in the corporation verses having a title to the property.  This can also make for a difficult title search by lawyers.


Co-ownership buildings are similar to Co-ops but lack the need to get a board of directors approval to purchase.  Lenders are limited and shares are the security not a title.  Freehold condos have a title and a clearer ownership history.  Financial institutions freely lend on titles for these types of condos.


Again research is key as is comfort level.  The Co-op and Co-ownership condos tend to be more affordable and often bigger units as they tend to be older communities.  That’s doesn’t mean they are all cheap.  In the GTA there are many high end Co-ops with ownership restrictions. 

I hope this condo shopping checklist has been helpful! Remember to use it and keep it in mind when you begin the condo hunting process, and contact me if you have any other real estate, first time buyer or condo related questions!
toronto condo shopping checklist
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wow, I am so amazed at the knowledge and constantly informative information that is displayed every time. Finally a great site with clear straightforward answers. Thanks so much!

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