On a Wild Hunt

By: Bella Muretova
Posted on: June 20, 2016

I’ve been living downtown and paying for rent for over three years, and after months of continuous nudging from my parents about throwing my money away on rent when I can invest instead, I have decided to buy. With the condo market on the rise I thought it would be quick and easy, but 6 months later I am still condo-less.

Naturally, I set some requirements and a radius around my office to start from. My requirements include:

  1. A one-bedroom over 500 sqft (not considering a studio)
  2. Balcony (Juliette doesn’t count as a balcony)

Within a month I eliminated the whole neighbourhood of Liberty Village because the commute from the Financial District just for viewings gives me claustrophobia and anxiety. I have eliminated old condo buildings because their maintenance fees are high and they require lots of renovations and upgrades. Brand new condo buildings are also a no-go because they have super low maintenance fees but you get what you pay for such as broken elevators and the overall condo quality of a cardboard box.

Question: Why do new condo buildings come with broken features? Answer: Because the goal is to have the building up and open as soon as possible, the elevators, or anything else, can be fixed later, once tenants start paying these maintenance fees.

I’ve seen over 30 places and made 2 unsuccessful offers. The first one had a higher competing offer and the second had a tenant situation which I won’t go into details about. With so many viewings behind me I definitely increased my attention to detail. Every time I walk into a place, I turn into a calculator. Not only do I estimate my monthly mortgage payment and fees, I start counting how much the renovations will cost. You would be surprised how many places need to be repainted, not because of moving in and out, but because it was initially horribly done (again going back to the quality of new condos). I add up the cost of replacing appliances, I refuse to cook on a stove that has those spiral hotplates. Then come the small things such as lights and replacing broken sliding doors, suddenly the place I’m looking at is outside of my budget.

The more places I see the more my standards rise. I recently discovered the appeal of a rooftop pool, something I didn’t even think of when I looked at places in the winter months. At this point I’ve narrowed it down to about 15 buildings I’m interested in which makes finding a good condo within my price range almost impossible. Most of them are located by Harbour Front, Spadina – Bathurst, Fort York areas, plus a couple of outliers on the East side.

Out of respect for myself, my agent and my roommate, I decided I need to have a place by August 1, 2016. Without this date in mind I think I can keep looking forever and wait for a “perfect” place, but I know there isn’t a perfect place and each one will have some drawbacks. It’s all a matter of what I can settle for and how much I can afford. Now that my condo search is public and the deadline is out for all to see, I have no choice but to adhere to it. Hopefully I can share my great condo buying story with everyone then.

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