Nathalie Harput & Sonia Samji
The more time goes on, the more it feels like searching for a condo is like looking for a needle in a haystack. We live in an era where our options are endless – or so you think. There are many factors to consider when purchasing a new condo development and we will discuss them today. Follow these tips from brokers specialized in the sales and marketing on new condo projects, and your journey will be a breeze…
Look at the numbers – all of them
This isn’t just about the price of the condo. Before thinking about the price of the condo, you need to look at your finances and try to project your future finances and savings. Remember that buying a condo includes mortgage payments, condo fees, insurance, municipal taxes, school taxes, welcome taxes, Hydro, just like a home. Having a separate account for your cost of living would be advisable. Some say ask for the maximum and try to negotiate the price thereafter with the developer. Some would say be cautious and don’t even bother asking for your maximum approved lending amount. What do your numbers say? Look at your overall monthly expenses and see how comfortable you feel with the estimated mortgage payments presented to you by your mortgage specialist/banking advisor. If you are starting to feel scared, don’t be. Look at this article as one of the best ways to prepare yourself.
Consider buying a condo on plan – easier than you think!
Buying on plan means buying a piece of paper, or actually, a few pieces of paper; the floor plan, the building specifications, the condo specifications, the developers contract and commitment towards you, etc. Another term is buying in a pre-construction stage, which in turn means you will be there from beginning to end and get a product that you will have personalized to your taste at a lower cost then once the project is built.
This also means that the developer has launched a new condo development and is open to the public to welcome the first purchasers. An obvious advantage would be getting “first pick” and another great advantage, that makes financial sense, is that you pay a much lower price than when the condos are ready to move into as previously mentioned. Depending on the size of the development, you could be looking anywhere from 1-4 years from the time the sales started to the time the development is move-in ready. So why not invest early and secure yourself a condo that is ready when you are? By this, we mean giving yourself enough time to save your money and plan your finances for when the big move comes.
Pool, gym, lounge, tennis court, parking…all at your fingertip!
Having a building with a pool, gym, lounge, screening room and other services sounds like fun. You imagine your summer vacation with friends by the pool, playing tennis after work or watching the game on a really big screen. These additional services and amenities give condo owners the full resort like feeling, as though they were on vacation 12 months a year.
The only perk that may not be a necessity is the parking space. If you live on the island of Montreal, a car is not really a must. Our public transportation system is one of the best and can get you from point A to B in no time. Don’t forget the car sharing systems that are becoming more readily available, all over the city. It can be as easy as reserving our car online and picking it up at a convenient location near you.
Now let’s consider the advantage of owning an indoor parking space. Having a parking space in Downtown Montreal, the Old Port and even Griffintown, has become a clear advantage and a fantastic investment. The majority of developers do not create a parking space for every condo built. In some cases, the ratio can be 1 space for every 3 condos. So let’s say you did not need a space but have the opportunity to purchase one, renting your space can easily bring you an additional 225$+ per month.
Did you know the city offered grants?
If you were not aware of this fact, and need yet another reason to buy a new condo, the city encourages first time buyers in some interesting ways. The program benefits single and multiple buyers as well as buyers with children. Click on the following link for all the details: http://ville.montreal.qc.ca/portal/page?_pageid=9437,116689570&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL
There is a Home Ownership Leaflet with all the details that can be downloaded. Knowing that the program applies to specific budgets and circumstances, try looking for a condo that fit the criteria and your needs, to get a lump sum payment back into your pocket.
Another credit given back to those who are buying as their primary residence is also available. All new condo developments will show you the price before taxes (QST/GST). If you are acquiring this condo as your primary residence, the government credits you a portion of one or both taxes (depending on the price of the condo before taxes).
As they say: Location, Location, Location!
Were you envisioning your new home being right in the heart of Downtown? Say corner de la Montagne and Ste-Catherine? Or perhaps St-Laurent and Rene-Levesque? We suggest visiting a few sales offices to get an idea of the costs of living in such prime locations. Realistically, areas such as St-Henri and Griffintown are more accessible. These areas are also growing and are bringing in many businesses and services. Another great example is those looking to buy in the Plateau. They quickly realize the prices are much higher than they want to pay, but the adjacent borough of Rosemont has seen many new developments rise, all very centralised to important services (banks, grocery stores, pharmacies etc.).
There are a few growing neighbourhoods in Montreal that would be attractive places to call home. Most of these areas have several new condo developments going on at once. Shop, compare and even bring the prices you got from one developer to another in order to negotiate the condo you have your eye on and you will be sure to find your jewel.
Another point to consider is to look out for promotions. Often, developers have promotions to produce more traffic in their sales offices in hopes of having more sales – this is a fantastic time to find the condo of your dreams. This does not only happen towards the end when there are just a few condos left, it can occur at any time during the selling time period. Items such as free appliances, condo fees paid for a year or even cash rebates are offered and you should take advantage. How do you learn about these promotions? Register yourself on all of the websites of the condo developments you are interested in and you will receive all this information by email.
It’s all about the timing
Timing is a key factor in terms of the real estate market fluctuations. Historically, we have seen December, January, June and July being quite slow in terms of office traffic and sales. Vacations, holidays, and expenses deter people from making such a big purchase at this time. This is the time YOU should be shopping. Your negotiation power is stronger then. Trying to negotiate in Spring, when people are scrambling to find a new home before July 1st is much harder, because developers are expecting more action.
If you use all these tips and do your research, buying a new condo could save you more money and become the next big step in your life. Happy trails and remember to always count on a McGill Real Estate broker for guidance during this process.