experts: real estate column Monday, March 19, 2012

Try before you buy

Looking for a condo? Lots to choose from, here's how find one that fits your needs.

By Ozzie Jurock

As of Feb. 29, 2012, there were 6,000-plus condos for sale through the Vancouver Real Estate Board - up 15 per cent compared to the previous year.

At the same time, sales of used condos were down by 18 per cent. The average price of $457,000 was slightly higher than last year.

Add to this the fact that - according to MPC Intelligence - there are some 8,000 pre-sale condos being launched in the first six months of this year. Buyers should draw up a checklist, do some comparisons and keep in mind the following tips:

  • Buy a good location in the building. Choose your suite wisely - not over a garage door or entrance. Not near a garbage can. Buy corner units, particularly in a townhouse complex. Buy the top floor in three-storey building. Buy balconies. Buy view.

  • Buy a building where you can rent out the suite. In B.C., councils can vote tenants out. In many parts of Canada, councils have that power too. What about pets, age, children restriction?

  • Read the minutes of the strata for the last two years. If you can't - get someone who can. Watch for "lawsuit pending," "building envelope study commissioned," etc.

  • Pay attention to anything with the word "legal" in it. Leaking by itself may not be the problem, but you need to know what the council did about it.

  • Buy cubic volume - not only square feet (for example, in lofts). Buy height in expensive suites.

  • If you buy out of town for investment ... make sure that heat is not included in rent.

  • Have good property management ... it will make or break you.

  • Get a tenant package insurance. Understand all strata, heating, water, garbage fees. Check insurance claim record of building.

  • Talk to a member of the strata council and/or the property manager and ask him about what kind of people live in the building.

Ozzie Jurock is the publisher of Jurock's Real Estate Insider and can be reached at

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