The Toronto real estate market offers prospective condo buyers many options, from location to size to style to price. One of the biggest decisions you’ll need to make is whether to buy an existing condo (resale) or a new condo (pre-construction).
Here’s a look at how they differ:
- Possession – With resale condominiums, you agree on a possession date and that’s the day you get the condo. With new developments, this can be a moving target, as construction delays are inevitable. This can add months (or years) to your expected move-in day, often resulting in stress, additional costs and possible short-term homelessness.
- Know what you’re buying – When you buy a resale condo, you know exactly what you’re buying – the layout, the finishes, the view. When you buy pre-construction, you need to make a leap of faith that the artist renderings and floorplans are representative of what the final product will be. Model suites can be deceptive (e.g. note where the ceiling will actually be vs. open walls in a model) Also, builders often tweak their original plans – which could mean that you end up on floor 6 instead of floor 9, or that the building is now 15 storeys instead of 8, or that the pool is no longer part of the plan or that your terrace is now a balcony. Trust us, it happens.
- Options and upgrades – With resale, you are at the mercy of buying what is currently available, which may only be one or two units in the building. Your ideal layout may not be available. And the finishes may have been picked by someone who appears to have been colourblind. Buying new means you have a wide variety of floorplans and finishes available – you can pick what floor you want to live on and which direction you face (morning sun or afternoon sun?). You can upgrade to granite counters and stainless steel appliances. And you can choose the quality and colour of the hardwood floors.
- Negotiation – It’s extremely difficult to negotiate the price of a new condo with a builder (though a good Realtor and lawyer can help you negotiate favourable terms, conditions and upgrades). With resale condos, the motivations of the Seller are varied and your chances of negotiating a better price are greater.
- History and demographics of the building – Resale condominiums have a well documented history—how the building is operated, maintained and any problems that have occurred. It’s also possible to see and talk to current residents and make sure that the building is a fit for you.
- Amenities – Newer buildings have all the latest amenities (which may or may not be important to you). We’ve seen everything from dog washing stations to massage rooms to the latest wifi wiring. Then again, some new buildings have no amenities at all – and lower condo fees to match.
- Location – New condos are often built in some of the most up-and-coming neighbourhoods, meaning the potential for a higher return on your investment is possible.
- New means New – New condos have been never lived in—there aren’t scratches on the floors or baked on crud in the oven. You’ll likely be the first person to use that toilet!