A Resident’s Guide To Buying Your First Condo in Liberty Village

You’ve been going through the condo market with a fine tooth comb. You’ve made the decision to act on the recent drop in condo prices (looks like its short-lived but that’s for another post). No more paying someone else’s mortgage. No more flushing rent money down the drain. You are ready to buy your very first condo.
 
Now, just for a second, switch into our POV – realtors who live and breathe the Liberty Village condo market. Every once in a while we try to remove ourselves from our experienced perspective so we can look at things from a first-time buyer’s perspective. We then stumble upon an extremely informative Facebook post that feels criminal not to share. An aspiring Liberty Village resident posts something to the effect of “I’m buying my first condo in LV. I have a Realtor, but does anyone have first-time condo buyer advice?”
 
This resident was asking for advice from her fellow Villagers, and let me tell you, they BLEW it out of the water. 152 comments later and we have the scoop for you. And just to add a cherry on top, we’ll give you our professional take on each and every tip below.
 
Read on if you’d like exclusive intel from LV’s very own residents on buying your first condo in Liberty Village. If you have questions, we invite you to contact us at [email protected] any time.
 
Tip #1:  Join the building’s Facebook Page.
 
Nobody knows that building better than the people who live there on a day-to-day basis. Thoroughly read through the various posts and gain some intel. You may even elect to post in the group and ask the building’s “pros” & “cons”.
 
Our professional take:
 
Our ears are ringing. YES. We couldn’t have said it better. One thing to watch out for is FB groups that only allow building residents. There may even be several security questions to ensure your status as a resident in the building. We’ll leave the rest to you.
 
Tip #2: Find out WHO lives in the building.
 
What is the ratio of owners vs renters? LV residents explain that the higher the number of renters, the less likely they are to care about the longevity of the unit and building. In turn, this can lead to messier hallways, lack of following rules and increased maintenance fees to cover more cleaning/maintenance of the building. Does the building allow Airbnb? This can greatly affect the building dynamic. Ask what the allowable percentage of non-owner occupied units is. One resident said that if it’s over 25%, reconsider buying there.
 
Our professional take:
 
Prior to construction, many of Liberty Village’s condo buildings were marketed specifically to investors looking to become landlords. So many of the buildings in Liberty Village are rental-heavy. This doesn’t necessarily mean these buildings aren’t good buys. In fact most of them are well-managed and great places to purchase and live. In reality the isn’t one building in Liberty Village where renters make up a quarter of the residents.
 

Tip #3Dig up the building’s history on past elevator issues, heat and/or A/C problems, history of floods, etc.

Residents explain that building management likely will not be completely transparent about past/present building issues. Find out about things as small and simple as elevator wait times, past elevator breakdown history, whether the building has concierge/security & what their job scope is in helping residents. These types of problems will likely have a massive effect on your overall sanity, and potentially, your maintenance fees.

Our professional take:

While this would be valuable info to have, sourcing it won’t be very easy. You can always try having a conversation with property management but you may be better offer reverting back to Tip #1 to get any real intel. 
 
Tip #4Look into any special assessments, maintenance fees, cost to operate amenities, contingency fund & maintenance schedules.
 

Our professional take:

Most of this info is quite telling about how well a condo building is being managed and whether the board of directors is doing their job well. A lot of info can be found in the condo’s status certificate but it is best to have an experienced real estate lawyer review this for you to point out any red flags.
 
Tip #5Hire a professional Inspector & Realtor.
 
One LV resident always has an inspector go through the unit prior to buying. An inspector has specialized knowledge on potential building issues and suite deficiencies. Also, find a Realtor that specializes in the areas and buildings that you are interested in viewing. They can provide professional insight into whether the building and management is well run.

Our professional take:

Having a home inspection completed on a condo you are interested in buying is a good way to assess the condition of the unit itself. It is important to bare in mind that most of these condos have been built in the past 10 years and are relatively new. Any wear and tear or deficiencies will mostly be cosmetic in nature (you probably won’t find leaky roofs or knob & tube wiring) but if peace of mind is what you are looking for then an inspection may be a good idea.
 
Tip #6Have savings for potential repairs .
 

Our professional take:

It’s always good to have a contingency fund. It doesn’t matter how new your future condo is, things will stop working as they should. It could be a toilet, heat pump or stove. 
 
Tip #7De-personalize your purchase for a second. How will it appeal to future buyers?
 
You may buy a 3-piece, bathtub-free unit, because you’ve personally never had the itch to take a bubble bath. Although, a future buyer may pass on your condo simply because soaking in the tub is their favourite thing to do! Make sure the unit meets your needs, now, while also checking the boxes of potential buyers in the future.
 

Our professional take:

This is great advice! It never hurts to think ahead to a time when YOU will be selling your condo and asking yourself: will other people like this view too? I don’t need parking but would my condo be an appealing choice if I had a parking spot with it? I never cook so maybe I should have the whole kitchen removed? I think you get the point. 
 
Tip #8: Don’t cancel out a unit that is slightly (or even largely) above your price range.
 
“Out of sight but not out of mind”. Just because you don’t want to pay more than $600K, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t browse above that price. If a unit isn’t selling, the owner may be open to negotiation. Your Realtor can inquire with the Listing Agent about the Seller’s eagerness to sell.
 

Our professional take:

It certainly depends on the market you are buying in but we generally suggest keeping a range for price ranges. Don’t be afraid to look at condos slightly above budget because mahgical things sometimes happen during a negotiation. 
 
Tip #9: The “perfect” unit likely does not exist. 
 
A wise person once said, “You can’t have your cake and eat it too”. Make a list of your “MUST HAVES” and “MUST NOTS”. What can you change about the unit? What can you not change?
 

Our professional take:

We totally agree! While there are some condos out there that check almost ALL of the boxes, it’s really hard to find that perfect condo. And if it does exist, there’s a pretty good chance it’ll check boxes for many other buyers too – if you get what we mean.
 
 
Tip #10: Evaluate the elevator to floor ratio.
 
One LV resident says that for a 20+ level building, the magic number for elevators is minimum 4. This individual even goes as far as to say, “walk out if they only have 3”.
 

Our professional take:

I am not sure there’s a specific ratio because 3 elevators that work well and rarely break down can effectively handle a lot of traffic. I’d go back to Tip #1 again for this.
 
Tip #11Google is your friend. Not Foe.
 
Your time is well spent Googling your buildings of interest. Grab some popcorn and read ALL the building reviews. If a certain building doesn’t exist on Google, take note. They might’ve removed their Google Page to hide bad reviews.
 

Our professional take:

While Google is helpful it is not the end all and be all for researching a condo building. Just like Yelp reviews don’t always tell the complete story on a restaurant. I think it’s one route to take but perhaps not the most important or insightful. 
 
Tip #12: Pay attention to floor level and where the unit is in relation to the elevator & garbage room.
 
Ensure the unit is not too high so you can use stairs when elevators are backed up. Ideally, your unit should be as far away from the elevator as to avoid people congregating and repetitive dinging noises. Garbage rooms can smell and the shoot can be loud. In a perfect world, you are as far as possible from the garbage, your parking spot is close to the elevator entrance and your locker is as close as possible and on the same floor as your unit. Thieves thrive with underground storage.
 

Our professional take:

We actually have a really great (and popular) blog post about the pros and cons of floor height in a condo building. You can find it here.
 
 
Tip #13: Research upcoming/current construction in the area.
 
Not only can construction be dirty and noisy to live through, it can also obstruct what was once a lovely view. One Villager said not to buy overlooking a vacant lot or parking lot as a condo most likely will be built there one day. As a wise Torontonian once said, “Don’t fall in love with the view because one day it will be a condo”.

 

Our professional take:

Very True! As many of us know, Liberty Village has been one big construction site since the early 2000’s. While 
 
Tip #14: Check out the unit at different times of the day, if possible.
 
Once in the morning and once in the evening! This way, you’ll be able to get an impression of how sound travels and whether the light exposure is up to par. Some residents suggested creating a bit of noise in the hallway to prompt any surrounding dogs to bark. Know your neighbours and their fluffy friends!
 

Our professional take:

In a perfect world you could do this but in the current fast-paced market this may not always be doable. If the condo you are interested in has an offer date this may afford you more time to re-visit at different times.
 
Tip #15: Look past the superficial.
 
Ugly paint colours and carpeting are all things you can change if your budget allows for it. Think of the big picture!
 

Our professional take:

Great advice! Lots can be changed about a condo’s appearance to make it suit your preferences. What can’t be changed? Location, view layout – so focus on those as your priority.
 
If you have questions, we invite you to contact us at [email protected] any time.
 
Did we miss anything? What’s your #1 tip for new condo buyers? Let us know in the comments below!
 
Thinking of making Liberty Village your home? Check out our Liberty Village Condos For Sale. They are updated hourly.