Vancouver is one of the hottest real estate markets in North America. Because it’s such a desirable city, the prices are some of the continent’s highest. If you’ve decided to invest in your first home and have a down payment ready to go, it’s likely you’re looking for something on the smaller side.
When you’re restricted on size, you have specific priorities. Before you start looking, write down your criteria. You already have a budget in mind, but what are your must-haves? How many bedrooms do you need? Can you survive with just one bathroom? Do you need a parking spot?
Apart from the obvious needs and wants, here are three important things to look into when you’re buying a small condo in Vancouver:
- The neighbourhood
If you have the choice between a condo that meets all of your criteria but is in a so-so location, and a condo that meets some or most of your criteria but a location that fulfills 100% of the points on your wish list, you should consider the latter. You have much more control over your property than you do over access to schools and transportation, local amenities, or the crime rate.
Walk around your ideal neighbourhoods before you even start hunting for apartments. You don’t want to find your dream condo and put in an offer, but realize afterwards you don’t like the area. Check realty sites for walk scores, restaurants, the vibe of the neighbourhood and more.
- The state of the building
Does your unit need repairs or renovations? Does the building need a new roof in the next couple of years? Is there a strata, and how much money is in the contingency fund or other pools for major building fixes and upgrades? Make sure you include these in your overall budget and read through strata meeting notes from the previous few years.
Older buildings tend to need more care. Most of Vancouver’s condos are only a few decades old, but a bad property management company or a drained fund might mean your building needs work. Research the property managers and look for online reviews from tenants.
- The availability of storage space
If you were looking for a larger unit, you’d probably want to consider closets a priority. But when you’re a first-time home buyer in Vancouver, space is at a premium. And if you have sporting equipment, camping gear, seasonal decorations or clothing, you need somewhere out of sight to keep them for much of the year.
Some modern condo buildings have storage lockers, and they’re usually located in the underground parking garage. These lockers sometimes come in the form of floor-to-ceiling metal cages and are in the same room as other lockers. It means your neighbours or their guests may be able to see what’s in yours. If you don’t feel comfortable with this, you may want to consider a climate-controlled, off-site storage unit.
While buying a condo can be stressful, the search can be fun and exciting. We wish you the best of luck on this journey!