Buying a condominium is a great way to get your foot into the real estate market and while condo life might not be for everyone, there are definite pros (and cons!) to being a condo owner. If you’re considering buying a condo as a first-time buyer in downtown Toronto there are a few things that you should consider. 

Understand the condo lifestyle 

Condos can offer a wide range of amenities, which are important to consider when you’re looking at different condos in your city. Keep in mind that the amenities will also impact the price of your suite–both for buying and selling when you’re ready to move on, but also for ongoing maintenance costs. If you have a desire for a yard for your pets or children, the condo lifestyle might not be the right fit, but if you love the downtown lifestyle that condo living offers, it may be the perfect situation! 

Consider the price and size of your suite 

Size makes a difference when purchasing a condo. Understand the square footage and layout (this is especially important for pre-construction). Break it down to the price per square foot and set yourself a budget that makes sense for the current market and your wallet. You’ll want to make sure that every “bedroom” has a window and that there is no wasted space (extra wide or long hallways, for example). 

Get to know the condo fees and reserve fund 

As an owner, you’re required to pay monthly condo fees which go towards things like amenities upkeep, with a portion of the fees going towards building a healthy reserve fund. It’s important to understand the reserve fund of your condo because this covers large-scale capital expenses like roof or window replacement. If you’re living in a well-managed condo, the majority of repairs will come from the reserve, but if the reserve is falling short, you may be asked to contribute more.

The good news is that unlike owning a detached or semi detached home, you don’t have to bear the expenses alone, all of the owners contribute to the reserve fund. 

There are so many more elements to consider when looking at owning a condo, but determining if condominium living fits with your lifestyle, personality and financial situation is an important first step. You may also want to consider models like Key, where you can start co-owning your condo for a lower minimum down payment to better understand if condo living is right for you.