How to choose between condo units you've never seen

June 13th, 2018 - by UrbanCondo Team

A blindfolded woman shrugging.

When it comes to buying pre-construction, the idea of putting your money down for a unit you haven’t seen before can be a little daunting. But as long as you’ve thought it out and considered the parts of the unit that matter most to you, buying blind doesn’t have to be terrifying.

Here is a list of the top considerations to make when buying a pre-construction condo unit.

Remember why you’re buying

There are several possible motivations for buying a condo. Some buyers are looking for their dream home, others want to resell when the market grows, while others are looking to make a profit by renting the place. Understanding your reason for buying will help you determine what you want the unit to have, or not have.

Take, for example, a unit with a balcony. You may not care about having one, but if you’re planning to rent the place, a balcony will allow you to charge more. The opposite is true for features you may personally want. You may desperately want a soaker tub, but this luxury might not make a different to prospective renters or potential buyers.

Your motivation for buying will inform what your unit needs, and what you can do without.

Where is the unit?

The location of a unit within a building can play a huge part in either your domestic life, or the prospective tenants you attract. If your unit is on the top floor, accessibility may be a problem. If you have mobility issues, perhaps the ground floor is the safest option. Alternatively, some of the more desirable condos- including the premium penthouse - are on the higher floors, so the prestige factor can be quite alluring.

The direction your condo faces also matters. The more picturesque the view is (think lake facing or nature facing, especially if the unit has a balcony) the better. If you dream of waking up to the sunlight streaming through your bedroom window, consider an east-facing unit. If you’re the kind of person who enjoys summer nights basking on your balcony with a glass of wine, then opt for a west-facing unit, which will get the sun later in the day.

What’s the layout?

This is probably the most obvious thing to think about when deciding if a condo is right for you. All pre-construction projects have floorplans for the various units on offer. If you have a large sectional couch, perhaps you need a bigger living space. If you’re a foodie, maybe the kitchen is your main priority. Most new buildings offer a variety of layouts, so make sure to inspect your options.

The number of bedrooms will, of course, also factor in. If you’re planning to live there, you’ll want to match your needs. If you’re planning to rent, consider how much more a two-bedroom will net you every month than a one-bedroom, compared to how much more it costs upfront. By performing this calculation, you can gauge the potential profits for different sized units.

What’s the square footage?

If you’re looking for a spacious, open home, you’ll want a higher square footage. If you like cozy, going smaller is a good option, because it’ll likely come cheaper.

In expensive cities, like Toronto, the square footage of a condo has a huge bearing on its sale price and rental value. If you’re looking at the unit as an investment, estimate the cost per square foot for different units in the building to see which one makes for the best deal.

Which amenities are included?

It’s nice to have a condo packed with amenities, like a washer-dryer, dishwasher or walk-in closet. But if you don’t care about a certain amenity, why pay for it?

On the other hand, the presence of an amenity you might not care about may justify a higher rent price or resale value. Once again, what you look for here will come back to your reason for buying the condo in the first place.

How is the decor described?

Most developers provide detailed descriptions of the units being built. So while you may not be unable to see the place, you’ll at least get an idea of the decor that will ultimately fill out the floorplan. And you’ll certainly care more about the design if you’re buying the condo to live in.

Many newly built units are pretty uniform and feature the same neutral colour palette, which allows you to go in and add your own personal touches at a later date. This is ideal if you plan on renting the unit, since your new tenant then has the option to accessorize the space and make it their own. However, lots of condos offer the option of upgrading certain features of the unit, so that you can move into your dream space with minimal effort. Whether you want granite work tops, or you’re after a specific style of blinds, check with your condo developer to see if they have any optional features or finishes.