Condos: You’ve heard the resounding endorsements from those who live maintenance-free, in a self-contained, diverse community. But you’ve also heard the horror stories of special assessments and Condo Boards from H-E-double hockey sticks. It’s no secret that the condo market in Edmonton walks a very fine line, particularly in our current marketplace.
The sales statistics paint a fairly stable picture, with year-to-date (YTD) average selling prices only -0.60% off from prices experienced in 2015. This statistic may be artificially bolstered by higher than average luxury condo sales; projects like The Pearl and Vancouver developer, Westridge’s, Ultima hitting the market in 2016. COMMUNITY’s experience with condo listings this calendar year has been somewhat mixed.
Those clients who have retained their properties for 5+ years have managed to accumulate some equity in their properties. Which, in a fiercely competitive market, allows for some advantages. Namely an opportunity to compete on price alone; something we are seeing often in projects that have little-to-no differentiation.
When listing prices are set aggressively, the negotiation strategy on offers received also changes. This is where REALTORS® prove their weight in gold (or in this case, green). Ensuring your property hits buyers’ “showing lists” is integrally important. How it’s showcased can help seal the deal. When committed to moving on, you do what it takes as a homeowner, guaranteeing your property is in tip-top shape for buyer viewings. Those clients committed to the process, demonstrated by the way their properties show and are priced, are miles ahead of their competition.
Alternatively, there are instances when no matter how motivated to move you are, the dollars and cents just won’t play in your favor. With mortgage penalties, limited equity and factoring in all the other incidentals of moving, it’s not uncommon for REALTORS® to hear that a client’s bottom line is much higher than what the market reflects. The overall purchasing strategy when acquiring the condo can be partly to blame in these cases.
Condo purchases are to be carefully considered. The health of a condominium corporation, as demonstrated by the review of condo docs, should play an important part in your overall purchasing decision. In addition to this fundamental consideration, there are some other factors to consider which help in resale.
Location, Location, Location
This “golden rule” takes on a different flavour for condominiums. Beyond just where the building itself is located, where are you located in the building? A price premium is attributed to higher floors and corner units. These types of properties should be higher on your hit-list when purchasing. If you have pets, you may want to consider a ground floor unit (sometimes a dirty phase in the condo resale market). Letting your pooch out in the middle of the night can be far more convenient without running into your neighbours in your PJs.
We’re not just talking about city-skylines and River Valley vistas (though if you can get one, hats off to you). In a townhouse development, seeing the more appealing front-exteriors of neighbouring units rather than a row of garages can be a nuance overlooked. Think about your surroundings as well. If land hasn’t been developed, what’s the plan for it? How high are the buildings around you and are they likely to stay? ‘Here today, gone tomorrow’ can be a scary reality when it comes to what you’re looking at from your bedroom window.
From balconies to fenced backyards, think about what your target resale market is likely to want. No outdoor space might be less of a consideration when located close to a park or restaurant patios. If you’ve got small children, giving up backyard greenspace might not be in your best interest. Also, what direction do you face? East/West or North/South can play an important part of a buyer’s decision. If your finishes are dark (dark cabinetry/floors), it might be wise to stay away from a North exposure.
One of the largest problems condo owners can face is a lack of differentiation. When all residents are picking from the same 4 colour boards, how can your unit possibly stand out? Look at your upgrade options and ways to make your unit more unique (without being polarizing). Higher end appliances, upgraded light fixtures or a few custom touches that make condo living easier may play in your favour. Hardwood in the bedroom, for example, could be what makes your unit more appealing than all its carpeted competitors.
A Bonus Tip…
Never leave an undeveloped basement unexplored. For suburban options, finished basements usually skyrocket to the top of a buyer’s list. If you’re purchasing a home with an undeveloped basement, pay attention to how the mechanical and roughed-in plumbing has been allocated. Properties with mechanical tucked nicely away is a far better investment as future development is much easier and results in more usable space.
Condos can be the perfect solution to getting into the housing market. The price points are approachable, the space is manageable and the benefits can FAR outweigh the concerns. However, ensure that if you’ve selected a condo to suit your lifestyle, you’re also protecting your investment. Small considerations at the forefront of your purchase can mean less headaches when you’re ready for a change of scenery.
NOTE: Photos featured in this post are from COMMUNITY condo listings. If something catches your eye, be sure to contact us to schedule a showing.