Buying a condo in Downtown Edmonton can be tricky. With so many factors to consider, how does one choose? And what guidelines should one use to choose the best for relatively reasonable price? Well, the opinions can vary from realtor to realtor, but there are some fundamentals one should consider. So here we go! Some thoughts on the subject I would like to share with you.
1. When you purchasing a condo, you are not only buying the unit but also the building. As common property expenses are shared by all the owners based on unit factors, many buyers fall in love with the property on inside and disregard the building or the entire condo complex. (note: the bigger the unit the more unit factors and voting power the owners will have as well as their share of the expenses). So make sure you do your homework regarding the entire property, its structural deficiencies, financial situation and so on.
2. Low condo fees do not always express the true nature of the property. Good examples are: brand new buildings which are being sold by the developer/builder. Guess what, most of the new construction will lure you in with promises of low condo fees, however, what they are not telling you is that the developer is paying all utilities and expenses till majority of the units are sold out and the board of directors with the new appointed management company takes over the control of the property. Once the builder is gone, the board faces the classic scenario of increasing the condo fees drastically within a year or two to cover all the operation expenses and contributions to the reserve fund. Also, most of the buildings in the Downtown area will include all utilities, some even power, and others no utilities at all.
3. Concrete or wood structure? Well, if I had to choose I would go with concrete but that is not always a rule of thumb. Concrete buildings tend to be better for sound proofing and are most of the time cooler in summer. The amount of common property space per unit factor can be less expensive to maintain compared to low-rise wood structure apartment condos.
4. Location is everything. Some of the most popular spots for Downtown & Oliver would be: definitely 104 street and north of Jasper Ave where you will find: the Icon Towers, Century, upcoming Fox high rise, Philips Lofts, the Ten, and further down on 105 street: the Quest, Legacy, 5th Street Lofts. 104 and 105 Street south of Jasper Ave and next to the river valley: Omega, Hillside Estates, River Vista, Peregrine Point, Vivacity, Marquise, and upcoming Symphony on 106 street. Also very popular is the condo belt between 109 and 112 street with the Cosmopolitan, Alta Vista, Railtown, Venitian, Imperial, and Meridian Plaza. Further to the south of Jasper Avenue on 110 and 112 Street: Grandin Manor, Westwind Estates, Madison, Savoy. And definitely more new construction west on Jasper towards 117 street: Illuminada towers, Serenity, Uptown Estates, and the upcoming Pearl Tower. These are just some of the names and locations you will come across.
5. Parking is always a consideration in the Downtown core. A majority of the condos will come with one parking stall, some may be outside (most of the time they are energized), some underground, and some parkade and maybe secured or not. Be aware when you look at listings online and you note “2 parking stalls” clarify upfront whether the stalls are separate from each other and not tandem (one behind the other). Tandem parking is of less value and more inconvenient that separate stalls. So what is the value of a parking stall? That can vary on many factors, usually an underground parking stall in newer building may run you anywhere from $10,000 to $30,000 and higher depending on demand and availability. You may also want to consider the amount of visitor parking that the building or the condo complex has. It can get expensive really quick for your family members and friends to come and visit you.
6. Special Assessment/Condo Levies <<< click the link to an article that I wrote on August 30/2011.
These are just a few points to consider when purchasing a condo in Downtown Edmonton. Make sure you do your homework and work with right people who have the knowledge of the Downtown market, the buying process, and of course representing your best interests. Even though there is much greater transparency now due to the internet and social media, its having the ability and knowledge to filter through all the information to make an intelligent and low-risk choice.