How to spot a good (and bad) home builder

The popularity of condominium living has given rise to a new breed of home builders, and they’re all vying for your attention. How do you know which one has what you’re looking for?

To stand out from the crowd, some condo builders offer financial incentives to entice buyers. Others distinguish themselves with their product – and rest assured, not all condos are created equal. Some builders focus on sky-high homes, while others build more intimate midrise and townhome communities. Some condo builders have an eco-friendly agenda, while others are all about the luxury features.

Take note of what you want in your new condo, and then determine who can best deliver.

Before you dive head-first into your new condo purchase remember that a little research goes a long way.

Buying a home is probably the biggest financial commitment you’ll make in your lifetime. Do your due diligence to ensure you’re making a smart investment.

Here are seven questions every condo buyer needs to ask before they sign on the dotted line, along with some helpful tips from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.:

1 | Who’s building what? Determine your area of choice, and who’s building what there. Ask friends, family members and co-workers for names of reputable builders they have dealt with. Nothing beats first-hand experience. You can also check with the Building Industry and Land Development Association for builders in the area.

2 | What is the builder’s experience? If this is starting to sound like a job interview, then you’re on the right track. How long has the builder been in business? How many homes or condos do they build each year? What kind of background and experience do they have? Ask for references, and contact them to find out if previous buyers are satisfied with the homes they bought and the service they received.

3 | Is the builder licensed with the proper registrations required for Ontario? If they don’t take care of their own house, how can you trust them to take care of yours?

4 | Is there a model suite? Tour each one in detail, taking note of what you like and what you don’t. Take your time, and if you feel you don’t know enough about construction to make a decision, bring someone with you who does.

5 | Is a site tour possible? Not always, but it’s definitely worth asking. You can tell a lot about a builder by seeing them in action.

6 | Can I see the master plan? Request this from the builder as well as the municipality. If you’re moving into a brand-new community, know that it will most likely look very different in 10 years than it does when you buy your home. What’s the future plan in terms of retail, schools and services, public spaces and infrastructure? These can all affect the value of your new home – positively or negatively.

7 | A couple more things… Ask as many questions as you can think of, and note the answers to review and compare at your leisure. Know that if a builder or representative is unable or unwilling to answer your questions, this could be a red flag.

A home is the biggest purchase you’ll make in your lifetime. It can be tempting to buy on a whim, but look before you leap. Some careful consideration on your part will help to ensure you make a wise move that will enhance your lifestyle for today, and make a great investment for tomorrow!

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