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Condos in Toronto

djfear

TRIBE Member
So why does everyone hate condos in this city?

Is it because they are a blight on the skyline? Is it because people don't understand them? What would you rather have instead as an alternative, since the land needs to be developed one way or another (or turned into green space)... To me it sounds like either people screaming from rickety old detached homes valued in excess of $750,000, or people screaming from the suburbs while they commute into Toronto using one frustrating mode of transportation over another - and they are just bitter or too entitled with nothing better to do.

Everyone hates condos, but the bottom line is that I find them to be pretty awesome. Walking to work, to the bar, no car insurance, no bullshit traffic to deal with... However, the one thing I do wish we had were a consortium of architects, planners, and visionaries who could slowly help shape and transform this city with buildings that can withstand the test of time, instead of building the cheapest looking buildings time and again. I suppose it's market forces and we can't live the perfect Parisian lifestyle with architecture to match, but we should try harder. Maybe that's what people hate? I don't know...
 

acheron

TRIBE Member
Density is the way to go (much preferable to sprawl) but we have been chasing an increased tax base at the expense of infrastructure. There has been so little thought put into the physical reality that all this influx of people and vehicles represents in terms of power, water, sewer, roads, transit, etc.
 

kuba

TRIBE Member
I don't know about "no traffic bullshit". Ask anyone who lives in city place or liberty village - there's traffic galore to get in/out. That being said I completely agree with your two points: they fit many people's needs, they are not as expensive as homes and we gotta do a better job of creating life-long design.

Why do people hate condos?

I don't know. I really don't get overall the hatred for the real estate cycle that we've enjoyed for the past ten years. Look at any column/blog and you see a lot of anger there. Overall I think the people who have missed out are kicking themselves (or those who sold early). Everyone by now expected a downturn but we're not seeing it - not yet at least, if ever. Condos are very saturated, some sit on the market for a while longer overall, but for first-time buyers OR investors they are a good way to get in: first time buyers can only afford them and investors have a huge rental market to choose from.

So overall I share your sentiment, I don't get the anger.
 

kuba

TRIBE Member
And, the longer you wait the less likely (it seems) it will be you'll own a house.



This gap is sizeable and not getting smaller anytime soon.
 

kyfe

TRIBE Member
The issue I have with condos is the cost of owning only increases over time. Once manageable maintenance fees eventually get to the point of a second mortgage where as with a house I can dictate and control my expenses and never have to worry about being assessed. I grew up in an apartment and I despise the lack of privacy and lack of pride of ownership that some other owners/tenants have.

The lifestyle of condo living is great, I've been trying to get my mother in law into one for the past few years with no luck, in her situation it makes perfect sense as all the heavy lifting is done for her and she's alone for most of the year. But she loves her house.

As the graph shows you'll make a better return on a house vs condo year over year with possibly the odd exception
 
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Sal De Ban

TRIBE Member
it's tough to share floor/ceiling/walls with other people trying to live their lives - especially when you think you "own" the space you live in. Perhaps if no one had hobbies, listened to music, had parties, screaming babies, screaming spouses, cooked stinky foods...how are all these people supposed to live together without constantly disturbing one another? For some of you, (e.g. Alex's psychotic neighbour), even one problem neighbour is too much.
 

kyfe

TRIBE Member
it's tough to share floor/ceiling/walls with other people trying to live their lives - especially when you think you "own" the space you live in. Perhaps if no one had hobbies, listened to music, had parties, screaming babies, screaming spouses, cooked stinky foods...how are all these people supposed to live together without constantly disturbing one another? For some of you, (e.g. Alex's psychotic neighbour), even one problem neighbour is too much.
Another very important point.
Every condo owner I know that has a late night social life either hate their building as it's a party building or they get regular noise complaints.

If you're quiet and don't spend too much time at home then it's really not an issue, until a loud neighbor moves in (which you have no control over)
 

stryker

TRIBE Member
I don't hate condos they're just not what I want. We didn't even look at them when we were house shopping.

My number 1 issue
- Maintenance fees. They're obscene, and IMO will be what turns Cityplace into Toronto's newest ghetto in a few generations from now. Paying $400+ a month for a one bedroom, that costs almost as much as the mortgage is crazy. There's no cap and with these poorly built glass towers start falling apart in a decade from now those costs are going to be skyhigh. Forget about a two bedroom, not a one bedroom plus enclave being marketed as a second room. To get a place that isn't built for retirees and single twenty somethings you're looking at fees shooting past $600/month

My number 2 issue
- Not much bang for buck. We have a fully detached corner lot. Three bedrooms, a wood fireplace, a living room, a den, a huge kitchen, a dining room, 3 bathroom and garage accessible through the house and 50 year old giant tree and a fairly big backyard and a massive unfinished basement/man cave. All of that would get me a 1 bedroom plus den and a shitty little balcony in TO. Our bedroom alone is the size of most apartments.

Also it's across from the Pickering GO station and Frenchman's Bay. Door to door is less than 45mins. Which is less time than it takes to get to the core from the Beaches, and half the time it takes to get in from somewhere like The Junction or O'Connor. After living in many neighbourhoods across the city, I've come to the point of view that if you aren't walking distance to a subway, buying in the city is not a very good idea. You still need all of the transportation modes/costs as those in the burbs, but you'll still pay more and also have to deal with weirdos on the streetcar.

We do miss the hustle and bustle of the city, but a cold Saturday evening spent in front of the fireplace with my wife and daughter with hot coco quickly neutralizes any feelings of downtown nostalgia.

If they were selling condos for under $300k with maintenance fees capped at $300 then I would give them a second look.

stew :)
 

AdamAnt

TRIBE Member
My problem is the QUALITY of construction. By their own admission the industry terms most new condos as "throw-away buildings." They are not expected to last much beyond 20 years.

So as mentioned above the cost of ownership increases quickly as the systems fail.

When I sold my unit in CityPlace, 3 of the 4 elevators were out of service on the day of my open house. 30 minute line to get up to the unit. That was in addition to the sewage leak coming through the ceiling of the main lobby. And the building was only a couple of years old at that point.

No thanks!
 

Ms. Fit

TRIBE Member
my issues are price and condo fees.

a two-bedroom condo should be in the $200k-$300k, unless you're looking at Yorkville.

speaking of which, I know a guy who lives in his parents' condo at Yonge/Bloor - the mortgage is paid off but the maintenance fees are...wait for it...$900/month (I'm guessing his building is around 15 years old).

at this stage of my life, i really, really love the "condo lifestyle" but given my short and medium term financial situation/goals, i cannot justify it. one day soon-ish though, i could see myself renting.

edit: also, i agree with kuba in that the anger comes from missing the boat when it comes to real estate here. but all it takes is simple patience, i think these next couple of years are going to be great for people looking to get into the market, so they should stop whining, and instead work hard and save so they'll be ready.
 
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erika

TRIBE Member
The fees do seem ridiculous.

What I want to know is why there aren't more co-op buildings in Toronto. I'm not talking about city run co-ops, but private ones, like the building at the northeast corner of St. Clair and Avenue Road.

Why aren't there more options like that?
 

Liability

TRIBE Member
The fees do seem ridiculous.

What I want to know is why there aren't more co-op buildings in Toronto. I'm not talking about city run co-ops, but private ones, like the building at the northeast corner of St. Clair and Avenue Road.

Why aren't there more options like that?
I love co-ops but quite simply they are hard to obtain mortgages on and their is a North American perception (with the primary exception of NY) of co-ops being for lower income families.
 

coleridge

TRIBE Member
If you're buying a condo you need to do your homework.

Research the builder/developer, are they new to the game or established?

Do some research into the other buildings they have built. Were their quality issues? How have their condo fees fared?

Older buildings are worth looking at. Generally you'll find larger units. The condo fees have stabalized even if they are high. More amenities mean more fees. A building with fewer amenities might not be that bad an option. Yes the older buildings with brick and smaller windows aren't as sexy as the all glass ones ... but they're better built and not as big energy wasters. And to paraphrase the idiot savant Carl Pilkington, who cares what you live in looks like on the outside. You'll spend most of your time on the inside looking out.
 
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Twinkle Toes

TRIBE Member
Hi everyone... First post as a newbie!

My husband and I own a condo in the Richmond at the corner of Sherbourne and Richmond. It's a Tridel building, built in 2002. We have a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom corner unit that is just under 1,000 sq feet. Our maintenance fees are under $500, which is doable for a unit of our size.

We would never be able to afford a house in the core (unless we came into money or won the lottery). Therefore, a condo is good for people like us who want downtown living. We also do not own a car and either bike, walk or take the TTC everywhere.
 

kuba

TRIBE Member
The issue I have with condos is the cost of owning only increases over time. Once manageable maintenance fees eventually get to the point of a second mortgage where as with a house I can dictate and control my expenses and never have to worry about being assessed. I grew up in an apartment and I despise the lack of privacy and lack of pride of ownership that some other owners/tenants have.

The lifestyle of condo living is great, I've been trying to get my mother in law into one for the past few years with no luck, in her situation it makes perfect sense as all the heavy lifting is done for her and she's alone for most of the year. But she loves her house.

As the graph shows you'll make a better return on a house vs condo year over year with possibly the odd exception
Maintenance fees go both ways. I just spent $6000 digging 5 feet of basement crawlspace to get to a 4 foot long clay pipe. Roof, $10K. AC $3K. etc etc. If you were to compare apples to apples, maintenance fees exist in homes except we don't "think" like condo owners.

That said, my fees for a 2800sq ft condo would be FAR greater because of the other bells & whistles such as security, pool, etc.,
 

kuba

TRIBE Member
my issues are price and condo fees.

a two-bedroom condo should be in the $200k-$300k, unless you're looking at Yorkville.
says who- you?

speaking of which, I know a guy who lives in his parents' condo at Yonge/Bloor - the mortgage is paid off but the maintenance fees are...wait for it...$900/month (I'm guessing his building is around 15 years old).
anecdotal evidence like this drives me crazy. "I know a guy....". We know nothing more about this unit, the amenities, the size, nothing, except that you "know" a "guy".

at this stage of my life, i really, really love the "condo lifestyle" but given my short and medium term financial situation/goals, i cannot justify it. one day soon-ish though, i could see myself renting.

edit: also, i agree with kuba in that the anger comes from missing the boat when it comes to real estate here. but all it takes is simple patience, i think these next couple of years are going to be great for people looking to get into the market, so they should stop whining, and instead work hard and save so they'll be ready.
timing the market is pure foolery IMO - people have tried for the past 7-10 years and fallen flat on their faces. Buy when you're ready not when the "price" is right.
 
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kuba

TRIBE Member
a great site for researching is buzzbuzzhome. it's my go-to for beginning the search for new builders (condo or not) and projects.

twinkle toes - this is what i'm talking about- your situation is ideal for condo owners PLUS you have a wicked condo, great maintenance-per-sq footage and good overall size.
 

djfear

TRIBE Member
Hi everyone... First post as a newbie!

My husband and I own a condo in the Richmond at the corner of Sherbourne and Richmond. It's a Tridel building, built in 2002. We have a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom corner unit that is just under 1,000 sq feet. Our maintenance fees are under $500, which is doable for a unit of our size.

We would never be able to afford a house in the core (unless we came into money or won the lottery). Therefore, a condo is good for people like us who want downtown living. We also do not own a car and either bike, walk or take the TTC everywhere.
I can see your building from my window. :p I've heard great things about Tridel and they seem to be a reputable builder. Plus this neighbourhood - e.g. old town / st lawrence / design district isn't the party town that is liberty village & city place so you won't get those buildings where people are coming in hammered at 4am on Thursdays... er... though I am guilty of that sometimes. :S

Plus, we have nutella lattes at our finger tips over by the Black Canary. Prices will naturally go up with that type of awesomeness!
 
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Puma

TRIBE Member
another issue with the condo's are also when the condo board\management is dishonest and steals money or racks up the bills\takes out a big loan and the tenants are left to pay it off. sometimes for a long time to come.

I used to live in a co-op type town house complex where that happened prior to us buying the unit. We all had to pay the debt where the person who did the stealing was long gone and never got caught. later on when I worked in real estate I found out that the town house complex was black listed because of that theft. It was harder to get a mortgage for the units. It was also harder to sell since the agents who knew about the black listing advised their clients not to buy there. Half the maintenance fee at this place was for repaying the money that was stolen. I cant remember exactly but I think the debt part of the maintenance was about 300-400 dollars alone.
 

Liability

TRIBE Member
another issue with the condo's are also when the condo board\management is dishonest and steals money or racks up the bills\takes out a big loan and the tenants are left to pay it off. sometimes for a long time to come.

I used to live in a co-op type town house complex where that happened prior to us buying the unit. We all had to pay the debt where the person who did the stealing was long gone and never got caught. later on when I worked in real estate I found out that the town house complex was black listed because of that theft. It was harder to get a mortgage for the units. It was also harder to sell since the agents who knew about the black listing advised their clients not to buy there. Half the maintenance fee at this place was for repaying the money that was stolen. I cant remember exactly but I think the debt part of the maintenance was about 300-400 dollars alone.
While this can certainly happen there are many checks and balances to ensure that it doesn't. Some of that is up to the due diligance of the owners.

I sit on the Condo board for my building and our Audited statements are available for members to take a look at any time.
 

lucky1

TRIBE Member
I don't hate condos they're just not what I want. We didn't even look at them when we were house shopping.

Also it's across from the Pickering GO station and Frenchman's Bay. Door to door is less than 45mins. Which is less time than it takes to get to the core from the Beaches, and half the time it takes to get in from somewhere like The Junction or O'Connor.

stew :)

when I lived in the Junction TTC to my work took 40 minutes, or it was a 20minute bike ride. Guess which mode I used? ;)
 
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