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While living in a condo has many benefits, it does have one limitation – space is at a premium!
That’s why it’s important to plan ahead so that you can make use of every square inch of your suite in the best way possible.
In a previous post, we’ve shared some general tips for small condo decor, and in this one we’ll share some ideas for multipurpose furniture that are functional, comfortable and aesthetically pleasing.
For the Living Room
If you have plan on having guests coming over frequently, consider getting something like a Palazzo Sofa Bed.
The sofa ingeniously transforms into a bunk bed, creating “a multi-functional living space without sacrificing comfort or style.” Although a regular sofa bed could just as easily have enough room for two guests, the verticality of this sofa means you won’t have to move surrounding furniture around in order to make room.
To save even more space in your living room, you can consider getting something like this Mid-Century Pop-Up Storage Coffee Table
It features a pop-up top to reveal enough storage space inside to hold books, magazines, and electronics, while the pop-up itself can be used as a comfortable work desk.
For the Bedroom
To deal with limited storage space in your bedroom, consider getting something like the South Shore SoHo Ottoman Queen storage bed.
The slat frame lifts with ease, giving you access to a large space where you can store seasonal clothing, sports equipment and other items that you won’t be needing access to every day.
The modern style and neutral finish go well with pretty much any color scheme.
Or, if you’re even more pressed for space, consider getting a Murphy Bed.
It has shelves along the sides to store your items, and a bed that, when folded up, reveals a desk that never tilts, meaning anything you put on it will stay upright even when you fold it up!
For the Kitchen/Dining Room
It can be difficult finding enough space to keep a large dining table in a small condo, but with something like the Duke Extending Console DiningTable you can fold it up for day to day use, and expand it when you have more guests over.
You can also save space using a Winsome Wood Space Saver Drop Leaf Kitchen Cart, which comes with 2 stools that can be stored in the cart itself, and includes a drop leaf table that accommodates 2 people.
The Final Word
If you’re considering getting a condo but are worried about the space limitations, rest assured that there are many options for space saving furniture available to you.
To be the first to know about the latest Pre-construction Condos in the GTA, don’t forget to sign up for our Insider’s Club!
As condo developers rush to capitalize on the demand for new, affordable housing units across Toronto, it seems that condos are getting smaller and smaller by the day!
While that may seem to be an unfortunate trade-off, there’s actually plenty of upside when it comes to smaller units. Smaller units tend to be more affordable, and allow prospective buyers to live closer to downtown for the same budget.
And with the right décor, smaller units can also be made the perfect mix of functional, stylish, and cozy.
Here are some décor tips to make the most of a small condo!
1. Separate your Spaces
The last thing you want is for your small space to look disorganized and messy.
While open-concept sounds like a good fit for small condos, the lack of definition can often end up making the space chaotic.
Instead, try to define specific areas of your unit for specific purposes, and use furniture to emphasize each area.
For example, use a space divider in your studio apartment to separate your living area from your sleeping area. Or use your coat and shoe racks to round off your entry way.
Other ideas include laying a rug to define an area, or using different floorings for each area. You can also use plants and props to give each area a distinct and separate feel from the rest of the house.
2. Get Multi-Purpose Furniture
Since space is at a premium in a small condo, consider investing in pieces of furniture that can serve multiple uses.
For example, a bed that can be folded up into a sofa is ideal for a studio unit.
Ottomans with hidden storage spaces, expandable desks, and other types of modular furniture will allow you to do more while occupying less space.
Make sure that you choose size-appropriate pieces for your space. You don’t want your home to appear stuffy.
3. Make the Most of Unused Space
Corners, blank walls, doorways, windowsills… identify unused spaces around your condo and think of ways to make them useful.
Try to think vertically as much as possible. Instead of trying to have everything within reach, consider storing less frequently used items in shelves that are higher up.
4. Use Lighter Colors
Rich, darker colors can make spaces look smaller, while lighter shades can make your space seem airier and more open.
Build a palette out of two lighter shades for the majority of your furniture, and one darker accent color for visual contrast.
Feel free to mix it up with bold colored furniture, but avoid using too many colors since they can overwhelm in a small space
5. Unclutter regularly
You can’t afford clutter when you’re living in a small unit!
Make an active effort to identify possessions that are no longer necessary, and declutter your home at least once or twice a year.
Better yet, do it in small bursts. It’s much easier to manage when you take care of small areas one at a time.
The Final Word
Smaller spaces do come with some trade-offs, but you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much functionality AND aesthetic pleasure you can get from even the tiniest studio space.
As long as you keep your space organized and invest in the right kinds of furniture and décor, you’ll have a home that is both comfortable to live in and beautiful to look at.
If you’re in the market for a brand new condo in the Greater Toronto Area, get in touch! And sign-up for our Insider’s Club to get first access to the latest Condo launch news, VIP incentives, and floor plans.
Condos are one of the most popular choices for new home buyers these days.
For some, that is simply because of condos tend to be more affordable compared to detached or semi-detached housing. For others, it’s because of location – condos tend to be built closer to downtown.
But there’s also a certain allure to Condo living in and of itself, and a big part of that allure are the amenities that modern condos have in place for their residents.
Having said that, each extra amenity does come at a price, and many condo-buyers find themselves paying for facilities that they hardly ever use.
In this article, we rank condo amenities by their perceived value to residents. Think of this as a general guide for what amenities people tend to look for and use, and what amenities to be wary of, when shopping for Condos. Keep in mind that how you value an amenity could be completely different – it all depends on your personal values!
- Rooftop Deck
These are the amenities that most new condo owners actively request, and the ones that condo buyers generally find most valuable.
A 24/7 front desk is becoming very common in most new condominiums, and that’s mainly because of its popularity. People value the extra security, and also the convenience when it comes to package/mail delivery. Do note, however, that many “concierge” desks don’t really offer much in the way of concierge services… think of them more as security desks that accept packages and mail!
Another sought-after amenity are condo gyms. Although they may not be as well equipped as full-scale gyms, they do offer a lot of convenience to residents who wish to supplement their gym-routines with a quick work out. They are can also be valuable to residents who may not be serious enough to pay for a gym subscription, but who find the occasional burst of energy for an exercise session.
Finally, because most condos are built in dense urban areas, the extra breathing room offered by a comfortable rooftop terrace can be invaluable. This is especially true considering that many condo units only have tiny “juliette” balconies these days. Many rooftop decks also have barbecue facilities, which is a bonus in the summer months.
- Guest Suites
- Party Room
- Swimming Pool/Sauna/Hot-tub
These amenities are still sought-after by many condo-buyers, but their use tends to be more irregular or situational. However, when those situations do arrive, having one of these in your condo can actually be quite helpful.
Guest suites are suites that can be rented out to accommodate a resident’s out-of-town guests. Considering the generally small unit sizes at most condos, having a guest suite in your condo makes a lot of sense. In truth, however, most residents get little use out of them for most of the year.
Party Rooms are similar, in the sense that you’d imagine the extra room could be valuable if you had to host a big party someday. Yes, they are great for that purpose, but the value of these entirely depends on how often you actually host big bashes. Most people use these rooms at most twice or thrice a year.
Swimming pools and Saunas/Hot Tubs tend to come together, which is why they’re listed here together. Quite a few condo-buyers actively seek out properties with on-premises swimming pools. However, as much as you can imagine yourself sitting poolside and sipping cocktails, these pools and hot tubs don’t really get that much use. Also, condo pools tend to be on the smaller side and don’t offer much in the way of privacy, which could hamper your enjoyment of them.
- Games/Billiard Room
- Tennis/Squash Court
- Yoga Studio
These amenities are hardly ever outright requested or sought-after by condo-buyers, but their presence in a property still does generate occasional use for many, and even regular use for certain groups. They are rarely considered make-or-break when making a buying decision, but buyers usually react favorably to them.
Games rooms that include billiards, foosball, ping-pong, darts etc. tend to get a lot of use in condos compared to other facilities, and can be great social spaces to interact with neighbors or host friends.
Tennis/squash courts may appeal only to some residents, but in buildings that do have them they generally get regular use.
Yoga studios are similar to gyms, but because they tend to be rather sparse, they are often used by residents for a variety of unrelated activities that require floor space. This makes them more attractive to a broader set of residents than they might first appear.
- Meeting room/Business room/Multimedia room
- Car wash
- Cinema /Video game room/Bowling Alley
These amenities are either rarely used and therefore poor value, or they are variants of “seating areas”. They can sometimes be difficult to maintain, which would either lead to higher maintenance fees, or facilities that degrade into repair.
Meeting rooms are basically smaller party rooms, except that you usually don’t have to pay to book them. They can be useful for small group events, but don’t offer much functionality compared to your own living room. Multimedia or Business rooms are generally just rooms set aside for quiet work, which might be useful for students sharing a condo unit. Most other residents end up rarely using them.
Libraries in condos ten to be small, with very limited reading material. Perhaps only useful as a quiet space, but you could probably find such a space elsewhere. Similarly, lounges are usually just small, casual spaces with seating, and you shouldn’t get too excited by their inclusion on an amenity list.
Some condos have coin-operated car washes, which may be useful in a pinch, but the results are not really comparable to getting a real car wash.
Cinemas and bowling alleys sound luxurious, but unless you are adamant about getting your money’s worth from your condo fees, you are very unlikely to use them more than a handful of times each year. Video game rooms might appeal to younger residents, but they can be very difficult to maintain. Considering the expenses involved in all three of these amenities, their value is questionable at best.
The Final Word
When shopping for a condo, its best to be realistic about your lifestyle requirements, rather than spending on amenities that you’ll never use.
That’s why you should work with an agent who can understand your needs and pair you with a property that matches what you really value.
If you’re in the market for a new condo this season, drop us a line and we’ll help you find a great fit.
And don’t forget to sign up to our Insider’s club so that you can the latest Condo launch news, VIP pricing, and floor plans before anyone else!
As housing prices creep ever higher, and with serious supply constraints across the GTA, it is no surprise that prospective home-buyers are increasingly considering Pre-construction condos.
Pre-construction condos are units in projects that are yet to be built, as opposed to “ready” condos that are already built but have never been sold before. “Resale condominiums” are units that have been lived in already, typically in older buildings, and are up for sale by a current owner.
Due to the promissory nature of pre-construction projects, the fee structures can be a bit more complicated compared to resale condos.
This article will shed light on the most common deposits and fees buyers need to be aware of when buying a pre-construction condo.
Down-payment & Deposits
Generally, pre-construction condos require a higher down payment than resale condos. Whereas a 5% down payment is the norm on resale units, pre-construction units usually require 20% or more in down payments.
At first glance, this may seem prohibitive for many buyers. That is why developers offer what is known as a “deposit structure”, which is basically an installment plan for the down payment.
A typical deposit structure for a 20% down payment would look like this:
- $5,000 with the offer
- Balance of 5% due in 30 days
- Next 5% in 90 days
- Next 5% in 180 days
- Final 5% at occupancy
This makes it much easier for a buyer to arrange and afford the down payment, since its broken up over many months.
Many developers even offer limited-time, pre-launch deposit structures that are even more buyer-friendly e.g. split over 365 days instead of 180 days.
(Competition for these pre-launch “VIP” incentives can get pretty intense, so signing up for a program like our Insider’s Club is always a great idea!)
Deposits tend to be higher at the beginning of a project, as banks and lenders that finance these buildings usually set that out as a requirement. Closer to completion, deposit structures tend to be more flexible, and it is usually possible to negotiate a fee structure with the builder to extend or even reduce your payments.
After putting down a deposit on a pre-construction condo, buyers are entitled to a “cooling off period” – a short period of time to reevaluate their purchase decision. In Ontario, the cooling off period is 10 days.
This is when buyers should get their finances in order and make sure they are ready to go ahead with the purchase.
They should also have their Agreement of Purchase and Sale reviewed by a real estate lawyer, so that they are not caught by surprise by builder-specific clauses.
If a Buyer changes his/her mind (for any reason) during the 10-day cooling off period, he/she can back out of the contract and have the deposit returned without deduction.
Closing costs are additional expenses that buyers need to pay for, which are levied between the time that they make the offer and the day that they close.
These costs include home inspection fees, legal fees, land transfer taxes etc.
It is suggested that buyers budget and save an additional 1.5% – 4% of the purchase price of their homes, in order to cover these closing costs. For pre-construction condo units, that number can be even higher.
When you buy a new condo, you may be subject to additional fees, including:
- Development and educational levies ($200-$4,000)
- New Home Warranty Plan enrolment fee ($900-$1,200)
- Utility hook-up fees ($50-$500)
- Assignment fees (if you sell before final closing, or flip your unit) ($3,000)
- Occupancy fees
These additional costs are project- and builder-specific, and some may even be included in the sale price of the unit (e.g. see HST below).
During the cooling off period, buyers should have their lawyer review the Agreement of Purchase and Sale to determine which additional closing costs will be incurred.
It is recommended to use a real estate lawyer who has dealt with the same project developer in the past, since they would be able to better anticipate any issues that they have had in the past while closing other client’s deals with that developer.
Condo Reserve Fund
When buying pre-construction, buyers will need to contribute at least two months of condo fees to the condo’s reserve/emergency fund. This is usually levied at the time of closing.
Again, read (or have your lawyer read) the Agreement of Purchase and Sale carefully!
When the condo is built and a buyer’s unit becomes ready to be moved into, there is a period of ‘interim occupancy’, where the Buyer can “take possession” i.e. move into the unit, but not yet own the unit.
This is because titles cannot be transferred until the WHOLE building is complete. Only after completion will the unit ownerships be handed over to buyers. Buyers can start making mortgage payments after that.
During the period of interim occupancy, the Buyer does not yet own the condo; they simply pay the builder an amount roughly equal to what their mortgage payment + condo fees + taxes will equal.
Many buyers choose to take advantage of the occupancy period and move into the units, especially if at the time they are renting a place where the rent is higher than the occupancy fee for their new unit.
However, the drawbacks should be noted: most of the building’s amenities will not be open for use, and there will likely be a lot of noise in and around the building, as the builder finishes other units and general sections of the building.
Buyers can elect to avoid occupancy fees by paying the entire purchase price with cash at the occupancy date. However, these terms must have already been put into the Agreement of Purchase and Sale before the end of the cooling off period.
Unlike resale condos, pre-construction condos are subject to HST, which builders generally factor into the purchase price of the unit and pay on behalf of the buyer.
However, if a buyer will be living in the unit themselves, they will likely qualify for an HST rebate. Note that most builder prices assume this, and so this rebate is often already factored in as well.
For investors, there is also a rebate opportunity, but to be eligible they need to rent the condo out for at least a year, with adequate proof of doing so
It is highly recommended to get professional legal advice about potential HST rebate qualifications beforehand.
The Final Word
With so many fees and closing costs, it is no surprise that many pre-construction condo buyers find themselves facing larger than expected bills around closing time.
However, with due diligence and legal advice, any buyer can confidently navigate these waters and land their brand-new, dream condo home.
If you’re a prospective first-time homebuyer on the fence about making the leap in 2019, consider that mortgage rates are in a great place right now, and that the Canadian government has made it a bit easier to afford a home in 2019.