What Is An Exclusive Listing?
So, you’re looking to purchase a condo suite in downtown Toronto. This is huge news, congrats! Searching for a property can be a very rewarding experience. You’re likely on the hunt for that special place that meets your personal wish list, knowing that when you see it, you will just know. Now, as much as we love natural light, 10′ ceilings, a big kitchen island and unobstructed views, there are some other aspects to purchasing into a condo building. These aspects of condo living may or may not be on your radar. Take a look…
Having lived in Toronto condo buildings of all shapes and sizes, I’m sharing some of my personal insights to help steer you in the right direction! Here’s my super important list of hits and misses for condo living:
There are many aspects to a condo building that are important. In my list, a full-service concierge is pretty close to the top! In the era of online ordering, express shipments, meal delivery services, dog walkers and housekeepers, a concierge is almost a must-have service for easier condo living. A concierge can sign for your packages, track visitors coming in and out of the building and even toss your furry friend a treat on the way back in from a walk. Concierge services are paid for by your maintenance fees, but their services are not exactly inexpensive. So, a lot of buildings have removed the 24-hour concierge and reduced hours to service the building during typical working hours to minimize costs. And, in my experience, not all concierges are created equally. Some of the them can be professional, polished and polite. Others? The exact opposite. So, pay attention to what’s happening at the front desk when you visit condo buildings for showings. And, decide how important this service would be to you and your lifestyle (even if the concierge is a bit cranky – at least you’ll score your Amazon package).
Probably the most frustrating aspect of living in a condo building is waiting for the elevator. This is why you should consider monitoring what’s going on when you visit different buildings. How many elevators service the building? Are you sharing the elevator with twelve people or do you have it all to yourself? How long did you wait for the elevator? Honestly, I lived on the 40th floor of a downtown building and would often wait twenty minutes for the elevator to scoop me up. And, it would sometimes take another 10 minutes to ride down as we picked up other residents on the way! Painful beyond measure. Not to mention that elevators are often down for service or reserved for a neighbour moving in or out, reducing the total elevators that service residents. This is a huge issue in certain buildings, so it is smart to pay close attention when you’re on site seeing condo suites. Seeing that I have no patience for elevators, I often prefer suites on lower floors. This way, I can just run up and down the stairs to access my unit (and, score some extra steps while at it too).
Okay, this might not be a big deal to you now because you don’t know what you don’t know. But, take my advice and find out where the garbage chute is located on your floor. Honestly? Having lived directly beside the garbage chute in my past life…I can tell you it was the worst! I could hear all of my neighbours chucking out their bags of takeout or would listen to their wine bottles smashing and crashing as they went down to recycling. The sound of the garbage room door was enough to set me off (not to mention the stench). In addition, it is wise to know where the building’s garbage bins are located because they also stink and attract tons of wasps and other pesky critters. It is not exactly fun having those big bins directly under your terrace and listening to the City of Toronto trucks collect the condo’s weekly waste. You have been officially warned!
When you’re buying into condo living, you’ll want to consider a parking space or storage locker. Promise that you will go see the physical space before you offer on the property. And, find out: is the parking space accessible to the elevator? Can you fit your car into the spot easily? Does your Land Rover meet the garage height threshold? How many levels down is the parking space? If you’re on P4 – it can sometimes take 5-10 minutes to drive down to your parking spot (not kidding)! Will the storage locker add value to you and your lifestyle? Are you able to tuck away luggage, holiday decorations and golf clubs when not in season? In addition, make sure the parking space and locker are free of debris on closing if you choose to move forward with an offer. Nothing is worse than chucking out someone else’s old boxes and paint cans on Day 1 in your new home!
I could write an entire post just about amenities alone. The pool, gym, party room, movie theatre, meeting room, games room, guest suites, yoga studio, bowling alley, pet spa, valet parking, basketball court, rooftop deck, gardening plots…the list goes on and on.
First things first, as a condo owner, you are paying for the use and upkeep of the amenities under your maintenance fee costs. So, the more bells and whistles a building has, the easier it can be for maintenance fees to creep up over time. This is why it’s imperative that you ask yourself if you will ever use these amenity spaces. One of my first condos had a beautiful outdoor pool. I used it once. That same building had an incredible condo gym. I never went. I think I rented out the movie theatre once to host an Oscar Party and that’s about it for my amenity usage. I’m just not someone who wants to be in a bathing suit in front of my neighbours, nor sweat beside the person I share a wall with. It’s just weird for me. So, before you go down the rabbit hole of a full-service building, be sure to do some soul searching about your day-to-day lifestyle before you pay a higher premium for amenities you may never use.
Visitor parking is super useful when you live in the heart of the city. There is literally nowhere to park when you head into the Financial District unless you’re willing to fork over $40 for a 30-minute stay. If you want your friends and family to visit from time to time, it would be nice to have complimentary parking in your building. Generally, the bigger the building, the more visitor parking there is. Your guest would obtain a parking permit from the concierge desk that remains on the visitor’s car dashboard throughout their stay. Usually permits are 24-hours in length, but can often be renewed for a day or two if your weekend front desk staff is helpful. This a very practical and helpful addition to condo living!
Honestly? It scares me to think how few real estate agents research development applications for the City of Toronto. Whenever we have a listing, at least three or four agents will ask what is planned for the area, the parking lot around the corner or commercial building in construction two doors down. And, since we do our due diligence, we know how to answer these questions. As a purchaser considering condo living, you too can research what’s happening in the local area by hopping onto Development Projects on the Toronto.ca website. You can see what projects are in the Community Planning Phase, what applications are with the Committee of Adjustments and what sites have been sent to the Local Appeal Body. Project details with include number of storeys and suites, park planning, commercial enterprise, public art and so much more. This is imperative research when considering a condo building that may be of interest as it may affect your view, improve or negate value, create construction chaos for the next four years or add much needed gentrification to a particular area.
Of course, there are many things that will influence your decision. However, we want to make sure you’re fully equipped with an arsenal of materials to help you make an informed choice before buying into condo living.
In addition to my list of seven hits and misses, it’s important to consider these topics as well before taking the condo purchase plunge:
Or, ask us your questions direct at [email protected]. We’re here to help you get ahead in Toronto real estate.
This article is written by Kori Marin, Managing Partner and Broker at Fox Marin Associates. With a passion for Scandinavian design and all-things-Toronto, Kori brings her own brand of charismatic energy, creative integrity, and expertise to her work.