Your check­list for condo shop­ping

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - HOMES - By Mar­i­lyn Wil­son

COM­PIL­ING a condo check­list is an ex­cel­lent way of keep­ing track of the “must haves” of your fu­ture build­ing and unit. Condo shop­ping can be over­whelm­ing; a pre-shop­ping check­list can help limit your stress and vis­its to show­rooms. To cre­ate such a list, start by vis­it­ing show­rooms and model units in per­son. Although the In­ter­net is a great place to do some ba­sic re­search, you will learn much more by as­sess­ing the qual­ity of ma­te­ri­als and con­struc­tion in per­son. This will also give you a chance to ask your ques­tions and eval­u­ate the qual­ity of the re­sponses you get. Be con­sis­tent with the ques­tions you ask in the show­rooms so you can make ac­cu­rate com­par­isons. When vis­it­ing, ask to speak with the show­room’s spe­cial­ist who as­sists buy­ers with their de­sign choices, as they are of­ten present. Take ad­van­tage of their ex­per­tise re­gard­ing up­grades and op­tions. This will be help­ful even if you even­tu­ally set­tle on an­other devel­op­ment. Be­fore vis­it­ing the show­rooms, make a list of those ameni­ties that are im­por­tant to you and that you are likely to use. Re­mem­ber, the cost of ameni­ties is em­bed­ded in the condo price and the cost of main­tain­ing them in the condo fees. Some ques­tions to be an­swered • Who is buy­ing units in the condo — sin­gles, cou­ples, stu­dents, young fam­i­lies, re­tirees? This will de­ter­mine the condo’s cul­ture. Be care­ful if the units are be­ing sold to in­vestors as rental units; ten­ants as a group may be less in­vested in keep­ing the prop­erty up and more fre­quent turnover will sub­ject the com­mon ar­eas to wear and tear. • Con­sider curb ap­peal. Is im­press­ing your vis­i­tors with a beau­ti­ful fa­cade, en­try foyer and other com­mon ar­eas im­por­tant to you? Not ev­ery condo owner cares about the width of the cor­ri­dors or the decor in the el­e­va­tors, but many do. • Is there ad­e­quate and con­ve­nient vis­i­tor park­ing? A good way to de­ter friends from com­ing by is mak­ing park­ing dif­fi­cult. • Are the el­e­va­tors fast and ad­e­quate for the size of the build­ing? This is par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant if you want to be on a higher floor. • Park­ing is key. Con­sider ease of ac­cess, ad­e­quate space for your car and ease of egress into traf­fic. Fight­ing your way into rush-hour street traf­fic can get old quickly; on the other hand, you may be on a sched­ule that lets you avoid rush hours. • It may be wise to pur­chase a park­ing space or two even if you don’t have cars — they can be­come more valu­able over time and can al­ways be sold. Park­ing spa­ces can be sig­nif­i­cant in­duce­ments when re­selling. • Check out the stor­age lock­ers for size, lo­ca­tion and in­ter­nal or­ga­ni­za­tion. You don’t want to have to un­pack the whole locker just to get at your suit­cases in the back.

• Lo­ca­tion, lo­ca­tion, lo­ca­tion. As for all real es­tate, condo lo­ca­tion is para­mount. How­ever, there are many fac­tors that de­ter­mine the value of a given lo­ca­tion to a given pur­chaser. Con­ve­nience gen­er­ally plays a sig­nif­i­cant role and con­ve­nience is a very per­sonal thing. Some of the fol­low­ing points will help clar­ify this. • When ex­am­in­ing floor plans and fact sheets, make sure you un­der­stand the pos­i­tives and neg­a­tives of the lay­out. If you have trou­ble vi­su­al­iz­ing this, ed­u­cate your­self by quizzing the peo­ple rep­re­sent­ing the var­i­ous de­vel­op­ments about their lay­outs. You will soon be do­ing this au­to­mat­i­cally when you see a floor plan. • Flow is very im­por­tant, es­pe­cially if you are used to big­ger spa­ces. Make sure the room sizes meet your re­quire­ments. This should in­clude the kitchen, which needs to be more com­pre­hen­sive if you plan to cook or en­ter­tain. Of course, some fa­cil­i­ties have beau­ti­ful en­ter­tain­ing spa­ces and cater­ing ser­vices. You might pre­fer this for­mat. • If cooking is a pri­or­ity, find out which ap­pli­ances are in­cluded and check them out. If they don’t mea­sure up you may need to up­grade. • Is a bal­cony im­por­tant and will you ac­tu­ally use it? If you plan to gar­den, make sure you know the rules gov­ern­ing your bal­cony use. If you have no in­ter­est in bal­cony living, smaller is bet­ter than larger as it will save you money and up­keep. • Are your crit­i­cal ameni­ties read­ily ac­ces­si­ble? Of course, ac­ces­si­bil­ity will de­pend on your level of mo­bil­ity — com­mit­ted walker, cy­clist or driver. Some may re­quire fa­cil­i­ties within their condo com­plex. • Make sure you know how bright your condo will be and de­ter­mine how im­por­tant this is to you. Ori­en­ta­tion of prin­ci­pal rooms and win­dow height are the two big­gest fac­tors. • Does the level of se­cu­rity of­fered meet your ex­pec­ta­tions? This ap­plies to build­ing ac­cess, garage sur­veil­lance, and el­e­va­tor and cor­ri­dor se­cu­rity. • Concierge ser­vice is both a se­cu­rity and a con­ve­nience fac­tor. What will the concierge do for you and dur­ing what hours? If you travel a lot, this be­comes more im­por­tant — who ac­cepts the de­liv­er­ies and brings in the mail? • What are the rules about pets, both yours and neigh­bours’? How long does it take to get Fido to the grass and what do you do in win­ter? Or per­haps you don’t want to in­ter­act with pets on a regular ba­sis. • Is the condo on a flight path or ad­ja­cent to high ten­sion trans­mis­sion lines? This may not be im­por­tant to you per­son­ally but may be­come an im­por­tant is­sue on re­sale. • Are there lighted recre­ational fa­cil­i­ties nearby that may gen­er­ate noise in the evening? • Are there lo­cal events such as ex­hi­bi­tions or sports events that may over­whelm traf­fic cir­cu­la­tion in­ter­mit­tently? I sug­gest you make up your own list and rate each po­ten­tial condo from one to seven on each item. This will go a long way to­ward en­sur­ing you eval­u­ate your choices ra­tio­nally.

LEAH HENNEL / CAL­GARY HER­ALD

It’s a sure bet se­cu­rity is top-notch at the Prince­ton Grand condo tower in Cal­gary. Units in the build­ing have sold for more than

$4 mil­lion.

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