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Everyone thinks that if you're in a building with more amenities you’re going to pay higher condo fees, but this isn't necessarily true. Often the bigger buildings that have the gyms, pools etc. are able to spread the cost among the higher population of tenants. Trendy boutique or small mid-rise buildings can have fees that are just as high — if not higher — and not have any amenities.
How long is it going to take you to get where you need to go? Consider work and all the places you visit regularly. Condo living is all about lifestyle and convenience, so think about where you spend most of your time and go from there.
It's important to know what type of people are living in the building and who it’s generally geared to before buying. What type of lifestyle are you looking for? If you're a well-established couple in your late 50s looking to come to the city and downsize from a large home into a condo lifestyle, you certainly wouldn't want to be in a building full of 20-year-olds who are looking for a party atmosphere.
Yes, buildings have reputations! Ask your agent to give you an idea of the building's desireability in the market. Some questions to ask include: how long does it take for units to sell in the building you're considering vs. others in your area? If it's priced below market value, find out why, and be okay with those reasons before going forward.
Find out what's happening in the area around the condo you're interested in buying. If your city is surging with development, you need to know whether new buildings will block your view. It's good to know what businesses are coming into the neighbourhood, as all of these factors will affect the future value of your property.
Every building is designed with multiple layouts, and they all vary in desirability. For example, there could be a 950-square-foot layout that's a large one bedroom plus den on a low floor and in the same building there could be a two-bedroom version that's also 950 square feet but a totally different layout, but one can sell for much more depending on the appeal of its configuration.
Your building will have a condo board and restrictions around renovations, décor and pet sizes. You must consult with the board before doing substantial renovations to your unit. They often have strict rules on decorative features. Most condos, for example will only allow you to have white drapery facing the street, as it keeps the building looking clean and streamlined from the outside.