Must-haves versus nice-to-haves when condo shopping

Today’s first-time new-condo buyers have a lot of tools at their fingertips, from the Internet to social media to smart phones and publications such as NextHome. They also have a tsunami of information to sort through when it comes to what is available and where. Whether you use a spreadsheet on the computer or plain old paper and pen, before you start shopping, sit down and list your priorities. In fact, make two lists: Must-haves and nice-to-haves. Then, be honest about your lifestyle and preferences to help narrow down your choices.

Of course, location and price are critical, and before you can really zero in on those, you need to understand your finances and what you can afford. Get pre-approved for your mortgage, then think about features, finishes and upgrades. Keeping track of which appointments are included in the purchase prices at prospective condos can make a big difference in determining value and comparing fairly. Keep in mind that many features that were previously considered upgrades have now become standard in many buildings. Before you plunge into upgrading, take a good look at what the builder is offering.

Do you want hardwood flooring throughout your main living areas? If the builder doesn’t offer it in the condo you’re considering, it may be a great way to spend your upgrade dollars.

We hear all the time how important kitchens and bathrooms are when it comes to selling a home, so consider your choices in these rooms with future resale in mind. Are you an avid cook? There may be kitchen upgrades that will make your job easier, and these may find their way to your must-have roster. Many first-time buyers don’t do much cooking but may still enjoy the practicality and appearance of granite on their counters, or the effect of valance lighting.

Of course, your prioritized list should already contain items relating to location, amenities, suite configuration, size and price. If you do not own a vehicle, living near public transit is a must. People who swim regularly for exercise will want a building with a pool. And so on.

The good news is that in Toronto, we enjoy the largest and most sophisticated new condominium market in North America. Nowhere will you find more choices, features and finishes available than right here in our great city.

Remember that every piece of real estate you buy is an investment, whether you live in it or not, so think through your choices carefully before you sign on the bottom line. However your final list turns out, when you move into your new condo suite, everything will be sparkling and new. Make your list, check it twice, and enjoy the fact that your new condo will be beyond nice!

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