Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Finding a Condo Investment Unit (Part 3)

As we discovered in the first two parts of this series, finding the right condo investment for your personal situation involves considering investment style, budget, location and size

While these tend to be the major factors that influence any condo investment, there are other things that will need to be considered along the way, including features such as the availability of parking, locker and building amenities and your market outlook.

Parking and locker

A great majority of the experts we spoke with agreed that parking can be of great importance when considering the ease of resale and future value of a typical condo unit.  For many potential buyers, lack of a parking space can be a deal-breaker.  While this may also be the case for potential renters, it is often possible to rent a parking spot from another owner/resident.

The importance of having a parking spot will also be influenced by the condo’s location.  In the suburbs where accessibility to major commute arteries is of utmost importance, parking is typically a necessity for both renters and buyers.  Conversely in the downtown core, renters who don’t require parking will not want to pay the premium for a spot where one is included with the unit. 

Of course, the other factor that will influence one’s decision to purchase a unit with or without a parking spot relates to budget.  Where condo units in the suburbs include parking more often than not, parking in the downtown core is much scarcer.  As such, parking here tends to come with a much bigger price tag ranging on average from upwards of $20,000 on resale properties and upwards of $35,000 on new developments.

One of the major concerns with condo living is space limitation and lack of sufficient storage.  While the decision to purchase a condo unit with a separate storage locker doesn’t have nearly as much of an influence on ease of resale, resale value or ease of rental, our experts agreed that having one is almost always better.

Hints & Tips:  If you opt to purchase a condo unit with parking and lease to tenants who don’t require a spot, it should be noted that parking can typically be leased or sub-leased as a separate unit with relative ease.  Rent for parking averages about $150 in Toronto’s downtown core at the time of writing.  The same can be said for a separate storage locker, which on average rents for about $50 at the time of writing.
Building amenities

Having building amenities such as a concierge, gym, pool, party room or BBQ terrace can be highly appealing to prospective renters and buyers.  This of course is also highly subjective and personal.  Having building amenities will generally add a relative premium to the monthly carrying costs of any condo unit however, and should be weighed against the benefit of offering such amenities to prospective tenants and buyers.

Market outlook

Your outlook on the market will be a consideration when deciding when to purchase your condo investment.  Historically speaking, real estate trends upward overall, though it experiences rises and falls over the gradual increase.  When you make your purchase will depend on your personal outlook on the current market situation and how long you intend to hold your condo investment unit.

The experts we spoke to also reminded us that the impact of overall pricing trends doesn’t affect every neighbourhood the same way.  Market values are highly influenced on a local scale, so it’s wise to keep this in mind when interpreting media reports on overall market data.

Next Steps

Once you’re ready to go out and start viewing some properties, it would be a good idea to speak with a real estate professional.  Whether you’re looking for a new build or resale unit, a good realtor can help you make an informed decision.  Hiring a realtor is often the only way the general public can gain access to VIP sales events for condos coming soon, and realtors can also provide access to all available properties on the market, saving you much time and energy.

Looking for a great realtor?  Consider starting your search here.

As mentioned throughout this series, there’s no clear-cut answer when it comes to condo investments.  It’s important to keep in mind that every individual’s risk tolerance and expectations are different, so it’s important to consider all the factors discussed – investment style, budget, location, size, market outlook and other considerations – before taking the plunge.