Toronto Condominiums: Go New or Renovate?

Living in TorontoThe other day I was a guest on a CBC Radio show with Rita Celli called “Ontario Today”. It was a call-in show and I fielded questions for one hour after a short interview. The topic, of course, was Real Estate, and there were some great calls. However, yesterday, I received an email from my web site and thought it was a great subject that needed discussed so I asked the sender if he would mind my quoting his question:

I had the opportunity to hear your contribution to Ontario Today at CBC radio. Unfortunately I couldn’t get to the line but I have a question. I’m a first time buyer and I’m more inclined for spacious/affordable condos (which happen to be at older buildings) and I keep on being advised not to buy such condos as they won’t be such a good investment as the newer tiny condos. Am I really going in the wrong direction? I understand you may not be answering questions as this is your own professional site but if you can answer, I’ll appreciate it a lot.

My answer:

In the past 10 years, I have bought two older Condos, renovated them and done very well. For a lot of people the extra size is very important. I think they will hold their value as you are usually buying them for less per square foot because they do not have the bells and whistles of the newer product.

However, here are some very important tips:

  • when you renovate, the Board of the Condominium Corporation must approve your plans. If they do not, future Boards could have the improvements or changes set back to the original materials.
  • you must have extra Condo insurance to cover your upgrades. If you choose to add hardwood floors and the units originally came with broadloom, the Condo insurance would only cover broadloom and not the upgrade that you have added. 
  • for Sellers, the Agreement of Purchase and Sale must stipulate that the Buyer agrees and acknowledges that changes were made to the unit and accepts them as they are.
  • for Buyers who offer on older Condominiums, I always suggest that the Buyer asks the Seller to stipulate that any changes were made with the approval of the Board of the Condominium.

The older Condos date back to the early 1980’s when 1200-1400 Square foot units were about the smallest Condominiums that were available and it was the mid and late 1980’s when the laws changes and allowed for higher density and smaller units. The larger units are fewer and are usually cheaper than the newer product but I think they offer great value. They also allow you to put your own character in the finishing. They make an excellent “Buy” but do keep the tips above in mind.

Happy Shopping!!

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