So a few of your friends have either bought a new condo downtown or have been talking about buying and you think it’s about time you jumped on that bandwagon. You’re not alone. Condos, especially in the downtown and North York areas have recently been built, bought and sold at a quicker pace than at any other time in history. Even in today’s market, condos remain a very popular commodity. If you’re thinking of buying, chances are you’re feeling a little overwhelmed and unsure of where, or how, to start. Here’s some no-nonsense, reality check advice that I hope gets you started on the right foot.

First of all, it’s not enough that you’re thinking about buying. Decide for yourself if you are going to buy or not. Many “buyers” are just exploring the idea but aren’t actually serious about buying and so are putting themselves through some unnecessary stress. Would you swing by a car dealership one day and buy a new car on a whim? In fact, most people don’t even go grocery shopping without a list. Your first step is determining if you’re in love with the idea of buying, or if you’re actually ready to buy.

This step involves checking your financial situation. Maybe you’ve decided you’re serious but you need to verify if it’s within your budget. I can tell you that buying is proving quite attractive these days, with plummeting interest rates and prices having dropped significantly across the GTA. Go and get that pre-approval.

The next step is deciding what you’re looking for and where you want to buy. The aid of a professional in the field may prove to be necessary. Of course you can buy without expert advice but you might wish to consider what exactly you’re deciding to do. When you’re picking peaches at the market do you just throw them into the plastic bag or do you check for the good ones first? If you’ve ever gone through a flyer for the best price, or waited for an item to go on sale, then you agree doing your homework makes sense. If you’re trying to save a few bucks on a jacket, or groceries, it only makes sense to apply that diligence to arguably the largest purchase of your life — a new home! Getting that Realtor means doing your homework. There’s no cost to the buyer, as the seller is responsible for the Realtor’s fees.

Once you’ve decided on the building/unit that’s right for you, the question of the offer process comes up. If you’ve chosen your Realtor wisely, or done your homework well enough, you have nothing to worry about. Contrary to popular belief there is no formula for the initial offer price and no standard ratio for list price to actual sale price. Your most accurate source for price is past comparables.

Finally, the matter of cold feet. I’m here to tell you that it’s perfectly natural and normal. The condos that sell before you make an offer seem like lost gold and the ones that sell for even a dollar less than you thought they would sell for seem like fool’s gold. The reality is that every single buyer, of the hundreds I’ve dealt with, who get cold feet regret getting cold feet. So keep that in mind and hopefully it’ll help you keep your feet warm.

Buying a new condo is a big decision and a large investment. Give it the respect it deserves, stay focused, get the necessary help. With anything so significant comes a little bit of stress, but if done properly you should have more than just a little bit of fun and quite a bit of success.
Happy Hunting!

– Amit is a Realtor/Developer with Re/Max.

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