Premiere Suites offers their top tips for buying a condo in Victoria
So you have decided to take the plunge and dive into the property pool. Congratulations! Victoria’s real estate market is smoking hot and there is no better time to get on board and start making your investment pay off. With units selling faster than you can view them, it’s important to do your research so you can make a quick, educated decision to get the suite of your dreams.
Here are our insider tips on buying a condo unit in Victoria:
*Set your sights high
Literally and figuratively speaking, higher floor units are more desirable. They come with a better view, are perceived to be safer, and are the brightest and quietest from street noise. Of course with every floor you jump, your budget does as well. Be prepared to spend at least $10,000 additional per floor for a comparable unit.
*Size does matter – But layout is just as important
Consider a unit that is 1000 square feet that is a one bedroom suite plus a den. In the same building, another unit that is also 1000 square feet has a 2 bedroom configuration. Which floor plan gives you the most flexibility? Which layout offers an inviting, open floor plan? Bright, open concept spaces generally most desirable and have the best resale value.
*Location location location
This has been drilled into us, but what does it mean to the home buyer? First, determine what is going on in your neighbourhood. Is a development craze happening? This could be a smart time to invest, as property values tend to rise with infrastructure developments. Do a little homework to source new developments in the area – will you lose your view if a new building goes up next door? Buying street facing (or better yet, a park facing) unit will, at a minimum, protect your privacy and partial view. Remember that lifestyle and convenience are paramount to condo living. A little research into businesses, amenities, and entertainment/recreation venues in the area will go a long way into marketing your unit for rent. Knowing what businesses are coming into the area will affect the future value of your property.
*Get to know the property management
When run properly, strata’s can save you a lot of time, worry, and money, while protecting your investment from depreciation. Do not hesitate to request a copy of meeting minutes or other relevant documents to the management of the building. Consider past special assessments made and outstanding issues that could add costs in the future. When was the reserve fund last used? About strata fees: do not be afraid of the additional price tag associated with strata’s – they are there for a reason. Too low can mean that the building is not being maintained and can affect the depreciate rate. Strata fees that are considered to be high are normally associated with the amenities and common areas within the building. Consider how important spaces like fitness centres, pools, meeting rooms, party rooms, and communal terraces are to you.
*Plan to live there, even if you plan not to
When purchasing our first property, my father-in-law gave us a piece of advice that has always stuck with me. In our search for an investment property, he advised that whichever condo we decided on, we must be willing to live in it, even if we planned not too. Sounds simple enough, but when shopping for an investment property, many only think of the rental potential or resale value, and ignore a scenario where they may have to occupy the unit at a period in time. His advice proved rather useful, for rather than flipping the unit upon completion, we decided to live there for the first year to take advantage of the First Time Home Buyer Program. Had we not chosen the 2 bedroom unit on the sunny side of the building, it is unlikely that our time there would have stretched to 6 wonderful years of downtown condo living. At the end of the day, it’s about keeping your options open.
*Secure a parking space
Even if you do not have a car or plan not to use a parking stall, buying a parking stall alongside your condo unit should be on the top of your “Must Have” list. With parking spaces are becoming increasingly scarce in the city, your unit will be far more valuable with the added benefit of a secure parking stall. There will always be someone willing to rent the space from you if you find it sitting empty.
*Hire a professional realtor
With the lightning-speed rate of sale in Victoria, it can be frustrating at best to get your name in the game, when cash offers are being accepted on the spot. Your realtors will be your best friend during the buying process. Thy have ins on units before they even hit the market, will be your negotiating hero, and will keep you focused on what’s important while making one of the largest purchases in your life. Best of all, it costs you nothing, as the seller pays the commission.