Have you been thinking about purchasing a condo? If the answer is yes, congratulations are in order. There aren’t many things in life as exciting as becoming a homeowner.
Of course, it’s important to have a thorough understanding of the buying process before you get started. Whether you’re looking for condos for sale in Brampton, Mississauga, or Caledon, knowing the steps involved will help ensure that your transaction is smooth and successful.
Here are some questions often asked about the condo-buying process…
Is Now The Right Time To Buy a Condo?
Are you hoping to time the market? If so, there are a few things to consider as you decide when to make your purchase.
When is the best time to buy a condo?
According to many experts, the best times to buy are either December and January, or July and August. In contrast, a hot spring market can lead to bidding wars and elevated prices.
Of course, the season shouldn’t necessarily determine whether you decide to buy right now. There are many factors that could impact your likelihood of finding a great deal. While an agent can help you understand the market, the most important consideration is whether the timing makes sense for you.
Am I ready to purchase a condo?
While the market may affect whether you buy today or tomorrow, your personal circumstances should also impact your decision.
Do you know what the next few years of your life will look like? Do you have a steady income, good credit, and a sizable chunk of money set aside for your purchase? If you’re an investor, do you have a solid plan for maximizing your return? If your answers to the above questions are “yes,” you may be ready to take your next step.
What are the major types of condos to choose from?
There are two main types of condominiums. The first is condo apartments. These self-contained living spaces sit within larger, multi-unit buildings. They usually include common areas (such as lobbies and hallways) and on-site amenities.
The other type is condo townhouses. These distinctive, typically-narrow homes share at least one wall with a neighbour. Owners possess the square footage within their units—but not the land it sits on, nor any exterior components. Of course, not all townhouses are condos (with freehold options, you own the entire space, and the land).
The Process of Buying a Condo
If you’re buying a condo, understanding the logistics and timelines involved is crucial. These are the major steps you can expect to take.
1) Collect your documents
There’s some paperwork you’ll have to pull together before you can obtain mortgage pre-approval. In addition to a credit check (which your lender will pull for you), here’s what you’ll need.
• Proof of employment (a letter attesting to your position, salary, etc.)
• T-4s from the previous year (further establishing your income)
• Notice of assessment (proving that you paid your taxes last year)
• Three recent pay stubs
If you’re self-employed
If you’re self-employed, the process of obtaining a mortgage is a little bit different. Here are the documents you’ll need to gather up.
• Proof of business ownership
• Your notice of assessment
• Financial statements
• Evidence that you’ve paid your GST & HST
• Your credit score (individual and business)
• Business contracts attesting to your income
• Proof that your licensed
2) Obtain pre-approval
Mortgage pre-approval is a crucial early step in buying a condo. During this process, a lender will look closely at your finances and provide you with the mortgage amount you’ll likely obtain. This is what you should know:
• Pre-approval assists you in understanding how much you can afford
• Securing pre-approval helps ensure that sellers take your offer seriously
• Maintenance fees are factored into the amount you’ll be pre-approved for
• Lenders may not provide financing in specific (poorly-managed) buildings
To begin the process, speak with a real estate agent who has connections to banks, small lenders, and brokers. The latter can shop around to find the best mortgage rates, terms, and conditions.
3) Get your funds together
Preparing your finances is one of the most crucial early steps toward a successful condo apartment or condo townhouse purchase.
Your down payment
Your down payment is the portion of your purchase price that isn’t paid through your mortgage. The minimum amount is between 5 and 20 per cent (depending on how much the property you’re buying costs).
Here’s what to know when you’re preparing your down payment funds:
• The seller may set their own specific down payment requirement
• If your money is locked up in an investment, you’ll need to liquidate it early
• Funds from outside Canada must be in your account for 90 days before closing
• If you withdraw money from your RRSP, it must be in your account for 90 days
• If the funds are a gift, you’ll need a letter from the person who gifted them to you
You should ensure that you have ready access to deposit funds (a part of your down payment that’s due within 24 hours of offer acceptance). While there’s no minimum deposit amount, somewhere between 3 and 5 percent is typical.
Be aware that there’s an assortment of expenses you’ll have to cover at closing. These range from municipal land transfer taxes to legal fees. On the whole, you should budget for between 1.5 and 4 percent of your purchase price.
4) Make sure you understand maintenance fees
Along with condo insurance and property taxes, one of your most significant ongoing condo ownership costs will be maintenance fees.
This monthly amount goes toward common elements (such as the lobby and amenities), the building’s reserve fund (an account that contains money for major repairs), and utilities. Be aware that some condos contain their own HVAC units, which can result in a separate cost.
Maintenance fees vary widely from one building to the next. For each condo apartment or condo townhouse you’re considering, be prepared to verify how much you’ll be charged—and what will be covered.
What are special assessments?
If you own a condo, there’s a chance that you’ll one day need to pay a special assessment. This is a one-time fee levied for unexpected repairs that can’t be covered by a building’s reserve fund.
5) Find the right professionals
Working with the right experts can lead to a smooth, profitable, and regret-free purchase. That means an agent with local experience and a track record of success, a lawyer who knows real estate law in-depth, and a lender capable of finding you the best mortgage rate and terms.
Your best bet is to start by interviewing REALTORS®. Once you find a qualified professional you trust, they can provide you with recommendations for a dependable lawyer and lender.
6) Set your criteria
When you’re buying a condo in Peel, you’ll want to set a criteria to guide your search. Here are some things to consider.
The first step is knowing your price range. Be aware that your household expenses (including your mortgage) shouldn’t exceed 30 percent of your monthly income.
Whether you’re looking for condos for sale in Brampton, Mississauga, or elsewhere, you’ll want to choose the best neighbourhood for your needs and lifestyle. From transit to green space, make sure you know what matters to you.
From low-rise walk-ups to condo towers, there’s no shortage of building options available. If you’re going to need parking or storage, look for a development where obtaining it is possible. Be aware that paying for both can add tens of thousands of dollars to your purchase.
When it comes to the type of unit you choose, you have three options. Along with condo apartments and townhouses, there are lofts.
Hard lofts are units within converted factories or warehouses. In contrast, their soft counterparts are newer buildings with typical “loft” features, like high ceilings, massive windows, and exposed brick and ductwork.
Features & amenities
Think about the features you’re looking for (such as square footage, appliances, and built-in storage space). You may also want to decide which amenities (such as a fitness room) could make your life more convenient.
5) Start your search
Whether you’re searching for a Brampton, Caledon, or Mississauga condo, you’ll probably do so online. Websites like Realtor.ca and the listing pages of a well-connected agent can be a great starting point.
There’s typically a delay between when listings hit the market and when they’re posted. Fortunately, your agent can use their industry resources to set up an advanced search. You’ll be notified as soon as homes matching your criteria become available. From there, your agent will set viewing appointments for condos of interest.
6) Perform your due diligence
Like houses, condo apartments and condo townhouses are subject to wear and tear. Fortunately, performing your due diligence will help you make an informed purchase.
The condo inspection
Getting a condo inspection provides peace of mind, but the process is different than it would be for a single-family home.
A unit inspector will cover the interior of your condo, but not the building’s common areas or major systems. The exception would be if there’s an HVAC unit in your condo, which will be inspected.
Your status certificate
Every condo has a corresponding status certificate. This document paints the full financial picture of the unit, and provides other crucial details. It includes the following (and more):
• Building management details
• The reserve fund & budget
• Condo fee breakdown
• Legal information
• Rules, regulations, and bylaws
In particular, the reserve fund study provides an in-depth analysis of the money the building has on hand for repairs. When you’re ready to purchase, it’s critical to have your lawyer thoroughly review the status certificate.
7) Submit your offer
Once you find a condo that suits you, it’s time to make an offer. There are several elements you should include, like your price, closing date, and conditions.
Conditions are requirements that must be met in order for your purchase to be finalized. You can add them to your offer as a form of protection. Here are the three most common conditions.
• Financing condition – Makes your purchase contingent on your ability to obtain a mortgage (adding one is strongly suggested).
• Inspection condition – Your transaction is conditional on completion of a successful condo inspection.
• Status certificate review condition – Your purchase will be contingent on your lawyer reviewing your status certificate (always included).
Based on your goals, your REALTOR® will craft an offer that protects your best interests—while appealing sufficiently to sellers.
If you enter into negotiations, your real estate professional will advocate for you. They’ll also suggest strategies for achieving the best possible outcome if you face competition.
8) Close the deal
Once your offer is accepted, you’ll need to wrap things up. This process includes steps like preparing your insurance policy, obtaining title insurance (through your lawyer), and contacting your lender to fulfill any last-minute requests.
As the big day approaches, you’ll need to prepare the funds for your closing costs, along with a cheque for what remains of your down payment. You’ll also have to complete any remaining paperwork with your lawyer.
How Buying Pre-Construction Is Different
Many buyers opt for a pre-construction condo, and there are pros and cons associated with going this route. A more flexible down payment structure and the ability to choose your finishes are just a couple of benefits.
The process of buying pre-construction is also unique. Differences include a specific due diligence process (a pre-delivery inspection is part of the deal), longer timelines (development can take 1-4 years in all), and the potential for delays.
From choosing a developer with a good reputation to knowing what to expect, an agent who understands pre-construction can help ensure that your purchase is successful.
Looking For Condos For Sale In Mississauga, Brampton, and Surrounding Area?
Are you interested in condo living in Peel Region? The first step toward securing your ideal unit is learning about the process—and working with an agent with the right expertise.