Our Guide To Purchasing Your First Condo in Victoria

Our Guide To Purchasing Your First Condo in Victoria

Purchasing the space you’ll call home is a big step. Buying condos in Victoria is an exciting opportunity. It can be freeing to have a home of your very own and can open doors to the purchase of a single family home in future or even lead to becoming an investment property.  Purchasing a condo is a big step and by doing your due diligence, you can decide if this is the right housing option for you. 

Prior to purchasing a condo in Victoria, you should understand what this type of home offers and what is involved to determine if condo ownership is the right step for you. 

Is A Condo in Victoria More Expensive Than A Home Purchase?

Not only are condos in Victoria generally less expensive than free standing homes, but their smaller overall square footage means less maintenance fees as you are only responsible for the upkeep of the interior of your property. You don’t have to worry about the roof, walls or even  landscaping. Because you only have to maintain the interior of your unit, homeowners insurance will also cost significantly less than a house. 

Yes, condos in Victoria typically charge HOA or strata fees which is an area that can cause rising costs. Keep in mind that the fewer amenities the complex has the lower the HOA fees should be. Swimming pools, dog parks, storage units, door men and gyms all cost money so be sure to let your real estate agent know what amenities you are looking for. 

Not sure how much you qualify for? Use our easy online mortgage calculator for a quick quote!

Checklist For Purchasing Your Victoria Condo

Condos are becoming increasingly popular amongst Canadian home buyers. With so many new developments popping up around Victoria, a condo is an excellent way to get your foot in the door of homeownership or as an investment property.

  • Choose your realtor

Hiring a professional real estate agent when buying a home can help you make smart decisions and avoid costly mistakes. Ask friends and colleagues for referrals to several prospective agents.  Look up their websites and online profiles to learn about their specialties, experience and client feedback.  Choose at least three  to learn more about who will work best for you. 

A mortgage pre-approval is a document from a lender conditionally offering you a mortgage and outlining the terms such as loan amount, payment schedules, and interest rate. A mortgage pre-approval letter is an essential step in the homebuying process. Without pre-approval, it may not only become difficult to determine your budget as well you may not be taken seriously by sellers, especially in Victoria’s competitive real estate market.  

  • If you’re buying a presale condo, make sure you understand the terms and conditions.

A presale condo is a contract between the buyer and developer to purchase a property before it is built. It is important that you understand what is being sold. While there are advantages, there are also risks and other issues that should be considered before signing that presale contract. Purchasers should always obtain advice from a lawyer and / or a licensed real estate agent before entering into a presale contract or assignment of a pre sale contract. Remember that lawyers and real estate agents have a duty to put you – the clients interests first. 

  • Research the neighborhood

Knowing more about the community you plan to join is a step you want to take to make sure that your dream home is located somewhere you’ll enjoy living long-term. Review neighborhood ratings by postal code, check the communities municipal websites, review schools and day care providers, research crime rates, study the property value trends. Spend some time exploring, go there and walk around, strike up a conversation with your potential new neighbors. 

  • Find out what the monthly strata fees are

Your monthly strata fee is money that the corporation uses to pay the common expenses of the development. Your individual fee is assessed by taking the total cost of the stratas expenses and dividing that by the square footage of your home. Strata fees vary greatly from area to area and building to building. You should learn how much money is being contributed to the reserve fund each year, if it is enough to cover unanticipated expenses and where money is being allocated so you have a clear understanding of what your fees are. 

  • Ask about utilities, how the condo is heated and cooled

You should confirm whether your fees include utilities such as hot water, heat and gas. 

The most common HVAC systems in condos are: Fan coil systems, condo heat pumps, packaged terminal air conditioning, ductless heat pump and high velocity air handler systems. Each has their own pros and cons, look into what is best for your needs and budget. 

  • Learn the strata rules and restrictions

According to the government of BC: all strata corporations must have bylaws and may have rules. The purpose of which is to affect the owner’s and tenants rights. Bylaws and rules are one of the ways that living in a strat is not the same as living in housing that is non-strata titled. These rules can be created to govern the use, safety and conditions of the common property and common assets. Rules can not govern the use of strata lots, only bylaws can do this. 

Understanding bylaws and rules is an important part of living in strata housing or owning a strata lot. 

  • If you’re purchasing to rent, get an accurate idea of monthly rental revenue

There are several questions to ask yourself when it comes to investing your hard earned money in a rental property. How much will the investment return? What does it cost? And more importantly you should be concerned with the value. Income from an investment related property is at a historical high. Determining the cost of and return on an investment property are just as important as figuring out its value. Looking at investment properties to buy is an exciting time, but you don’t want to overlook the cash flow for rental property equation during your search. 

  • Resale value and market trends

The resale value of Victoria condos can vary based on several factors such as location, market conditions, supply and demand, property features and common areas, standard features and changing view from future developments in the area. These factors pertain to both the exterior and unit interior as well as the surrounding neighborhood. 

  • Finally, consult with your lawyer

In a bid to save money, a homebuyer generally avoids appointing legal counsel at an early stage. However that can actually end up being more costly in the end. Once you have visited the property and gathered as much detail about the property you should show everything to a lawyer. Your sales agreement is an important document: it has all the details along with terms and conditions. Everything in the agreement is legally binding in a court of law. Lawyers will help ensure you are protected and understand: title exceptions, easement issues, seller disclosures, HOA’s, tenancy, deeds, acceptable use, enforcement of the real estate sales agreement and much more. Meeting with a real estate lawyer is an absolute must for your peace of mind. 

Pros of Strata Ownership and Condo Living

Strata living can be a beneficial home ownership choice for new homeowners, investors and those looking to downsize. From the lower purchase price to the tight knit community, strata properties come with a wide range of benefits that you don’t get with normal property ownership. 

Freedom from Repairs and Maintenance

The strata corporation must repair and maintain common property and common assets. Strata lot owners also have repair and maintenance responsibilities. Fulfilling repair and maintenance responsibilities also help the strata corporation and strata lot owners meet home warranty insurance requirements. Help prevent premature aging of buildings and assets with careful maintenance and care in operation. This proactive care will help you get the best value for your money and avoid being surprised with unexpected costs. 

Easily Customize or Upgrade Your Space

Creating a homey feel in a rental or small apartment is not easy, However if you live in a condo you can make it all your own. Now is the time to make all your home make-over dreams come true.  Take some time to explore the new world of vertical space storage, get the timeless kitchen you’ve always wanted. Throw a Murphy bed in the living room to convert it instantly into a spare room. Transform your space with lighting fixtures that turn your office into an art gallery. Smaller spaces also mean smaller budgets required to make your home renovation dreams a reality. Whatever mood you want to create the sky’s the limit and maybe even your view if you opt for the higher floors. 

Condo Ownership Is More Affordable

If you are looking for the easiest way to home ownership, buying a condo is the way to go.  Condos are much more affordable compared to single family homes. Whether a first time home buyer, downsizing or purchasing as an investment, purchasing a quality condo in Victoria is one of the best decisions you can ever make. 

Cons of Strata Ownership and Condo Living

Living in Victoria condos comes with a few downsides, while the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks, there may be a few cons to buying a condo that you should consider.

Strata Restrictions

Choosing to live in a condo means that you have to abide by the rules of the community. For example there can be restrictions on pet ownership, guidelines to where and when you can host events. Also, there could be a limit to the number of cars allowed per unit. Ensuring you know the rules and regulations when searching for a condo will ensure that the community aligns well with your lifestyle.

Less Privacy

The downside of a condo is the apartment style. There is the potential to hear and be heard in all of your celebrations and arguments. Living in a condo means having less expectation of privacy in areas that are of joint control, less control over your living environment including who your neighbors are, noise levels, and use of shared amenities.  

Monthly Strata Fees

Condos always come with a monthly fee on top of the mortgage. The luxurious amenities provided by condo complexes come at a cost to the residents, it’s important to keep in mind that these costs have a tendency to increase yearly.  To avoid the risk of pricing yourself out of your home, make sure you have increased fees factored into your monthly budget. 

Learn About Our Victoria Mortgages And Get Pre-Approved

Whether you’re looking to purchase your first condo in Victoria, curious about your mortgage pre-approval, or interested to learn more about the condo purchase process, Prime Mortgage Works has you covered.

Contact us today to discover just how easy we can make your Victoria condo purchase process.