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Asking the Right Questions when Visiting a Showroom

So you’ve done your homework and narrowed it down to a handful of promising new condominium projects and you’re now ready to visit their showrooms.  Be prepared before going in and expect it to be busy.  Expect a crowd and not enough sales representatives.  You will need to maximize your time at a showroom in order to help you make the right decisions.  Let’s go over some of the more important points when you visit a showroom.

1. What makes this development special and why should I consider purchasing?

Begin by telling them exactly what you’re looking for and then ask them what makes their development so special.  You can be assured that a sales representative has a well-rehearsed pitch and if you let them deliver it, you’ll realize that they will quickly run down the key features of the development.  Don’t be afraid to ask technical questions including the financial aspects of the sale and even build quality.  Showroom sales representatives are typically contracted real estate agents that have the ability to take you from a tour right through to handing you the keys.  Remember to ask the sales representative what differentiates their development from their competitors.  By doing so, you might be able to gage the quality of their project.  Are they going the extra distance to compensate the prices they are selling their units for? While speaking with the representative, be sure to write down anything that piques your interest or concerns you may have. It’s extremely important that your concerns are fully answered.  

2. Who is the developer?

If you haven’t already looked up information on the developer or home builder, make sure that you find out more about them at the showroom.  Building a condominium, loft or townhome residence in Canada is no easy task.  It’s a complex and expensive venture.  Construction costs and labour must be well managed to ensure timely and on budget delivery of a quality project. An experienced, well-known developer will have the resources and management to deliver a more consistent and high quality product.  Find out what other successful projects they have launched in the past.  Find out if they came in on budget and on the expected release date.  Go online and find out if other home buyers have had positive experiences buying a new home from them in the past few years.

3. What are the future plans for the area?

The value of a preconstruction offering comes from what lies in the future. As a future home owner, it is in your best interest to find a development in an area that will be improved upon by the time the project is completed. The beautification or revitalization of a neighbourhood could really increase the value of your new home.  Take Gastown for example.  Gastown may be a little run down in some parts today, but plans to revitalize Gastown is already in the works.  If you purchase a new condo or loft in Gastown today, the value of your new home may increase at a much higher rate than other areas when the new Gastown becomes the trendy hot spot to live.  New developments and municipal renewal projects can add considerable intrinsic value to your investment.  Be sure to ask the builder about the city’s future plans for the area. 

4. What kinds of storage and parking is included?

Storage space and parking these days come at a premium.  Buyer beware, if you want storage space, make sure you ask for it and in some cases, you will need to pay extra for it.  Most condos come with only one parking space and an extra one might come as a premium. Many condo owners may not know that “ensuite storage” does not mean a storage locker or space in the building. Instead, the unit may only include storage space in the suite. Sometimes showrooms might refer to a small den or nook as the storage space. Be cognizant of your storage space requirements when considering a condominium.  A lot of new condos offer storage lockers within the building. They are often limited, so make sure you ask.

5. What are the expected maintenance fees?

Expect monthly maintenance or “strata” fees as a recurring monthly cost when you purchase a townhome or condominium. The maintenance or strata fee is a monthly fee payable by the unit owner to the “strata corporation”. The strata corporation is the legal operating entity of the condominium or townhome project. In essence, the strata corporation owns the parts of the building and grounds not directly owned but shared by any one unit holder - these areas are known as common property. Take for example the lawn and flowerbeds around the building. Who pays for the maintenance of the grounds? Ultimately, you do.  Your strata fees will help maintain the property which will also maximize the resale value of your investment.

Make sure you go over the strata fees for your potential new condo, loft or townhome. You will be expected to pay a monthly maintenance or strata fee. The sales representative can usually give you an idea of how much you will be expected to pay and is usually quoted in cents per sq. ft.

Also be aware that maintenance fees can go up or down over the life of the condominium, but for the first couple of years, expect to pay the quoted rate.  And if any major damages or issues occur to the property, such as a leaky roof, you might be expected to pay extra for it on top of your strata fees.  Ask the sales representative about future incidentals and unforeseen events.

There you have it, a run down of some important points to cover when visiting a showroom.  In regards to the best time to visit a showroom, try going during a weekday.  Weekdays are a lot less hectic and a sales representative will have more available time for you.  Buying a new home is a major purchase and asking the right questions will help you make the right choices.  Don’t rush into a purchase and make sure you do as much homework as you can about the project.  Go online and educate yourself about the builder and project prior to visiting their showroom(s). Good luck!


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