What to Ask When You're Hiring an Agent to Help You Buy a Condo

| Buying

If you’re ready to buy your first condo, you’ll want to ensure that you have an expert on your side. The truth is, finding an agent with the right knowledge and skills could mean the difference between a purchase you’re thrilled with, and one that falls short of your expectations. The best way to find a real pro is by asking the right questions.

Here are a few essential things to ask an agent if you’re thinking of hiring them to help you buy a condo…

How much local condo experience do you have?

The city’s condo and detached home markets are very different from one another. When one is on fire, the other may be slower than expected. No matter the trends, an agent who’s worked in the condo market will understand the latest trends—and how to make them work for you.

Any professional with the right expertise will also know the process inside and out. As just one example, if you’re purchasing a resale unit in a hot market, your agent may advise you to forgo an inspection. Instead, they might suggest relying on your potential condo’s status certificate (a crucial document that provides a financial snapshot of a unit). Demanding an inspection could impact your chances of winning in a bidding war, which is why it’s so important to work with an agent who can help you weigh the pros and cons.

How is buying a pre-construction condo different?

If you’re thinking of buying a pre-construction condo, working with a professional who knows the ins and outs is critical. The timeline is different (it can take years before you truly own your condo). The deposit structure is different (it’s more flexible for pre-con purchases). The fact is, there’s no shortage of differences you should be aware of if you’re buying brand new.

One particularly confusing aspect of buying pre-construction is interim occupancy. It’s the period of time between when you can move into your unit and when the building is registered (solidifying your ownership). The point is, an agent who doesn’t specialize in condos may not fully understand the minutiae of pre-construction purchases.

Which neighbourhoods do you work in most?

No matter what type of property you’re buying, it’s important to work with an agent who’s intimately familiar with the areas where you plan to purchase. If they are, they’ll be able to talk about everything from transit stops and commute times to out-of-the-way parkettes and other hidden gems.

What if you’re not settled on a particular area? Some professionals know a wide variety of neighbourhoods that are ideal for condo living. From King West to Liberty Village to Leslieville, they’ll be able to help you narrow down communities based on your criteria (and suggest affordable alternatives if you’re on a budget).

What can you tell me about maintenance fees?

It’s easy enough to do some googling and find out what maintenance fees typically pay for (though it varies from one building to the next). That said, if you’re ramping up to purchase your first unit, you’re probably hoping for some general, up-to-date information on what maintenance fees are like in the city.

An agent with recent local condo experience can tell you not only the current average cost per square foot, but what to expect for units in your price range. Monthly fees are one of the most confusing aspects of buying a unit, so be sure to ask the agent you’re considering any questions you might have.

How can I protect myself during my purchase?

Buying your first condo is exciting, but it can also be anxiety-provoking. Fortunately, a real estate professional with the right expertise can help you take steps to protect yourself. To start, they’ll advise that you have the status certificate for your prospective unit reviewed by a qualified real estate lawyer. They may also suggest making it a condition of your purchase.

Beyond conditions, your agent should be able to help you identify any potential red flags. From the subtle signs that the building isn’t well cared for to an inadequate reserve fund (the “rainy day” money a condo corporation has for unexpected issues), you should know what to look out for during your search.

Searching for the right condo? I can answer all of your questions. Call or text me at 416-500-5360, or send me an email at rashid.notash@rogers.com and ask away!

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