How do you find the best real estate value?

How do you find the best real estate value?

Picture two buyers: Alex, who's new to the Toronto condo market and has dreams of ditching the car and walking to and from his job at a downtown startup every day. Then there's Sasha, newly retired and ready to enjoy long walks along the waterfront with Henry, her labradoodle. Their condo wish lists might be completely different, but they have one thing in common: they want to get the best value for their money.

So how do you determine value? When clients ask me about it, they often point to two similar-sounding units (sometimes in the same building), and wonder why they're priced so differently. Isn't the better value the one with the lower list price? Short answer: nope.

Here’s the thing: value isn't always about price. There are a whole host of factors that affect the attractiveness of a unit to a specific buyer. And where Sasha might perceive value (being on a low floor so it's easy to walk Henry, for example), Alex might see it in a high-up unit with an amazing view.

I've seen two units in the same building with the same square footage, same one bedroom + den layout – but $40,000 apart. Why the price difference? Maybe they sold six months apart - real estate prices can fluctuate dramatically in that time. Maybe one of the units sold when there were no other listings in the building. Or one was professionally staged and beautifully updated, while the other wasn't. Perhaps one was on the second floor and the other on the 19th. Price variances can often be easily explained, but it takes knowledge, experience, and research.

10 factors that determine value

  1. Location. Are you a CityPlace dweller or is Cabbagetown more your speed? CityPlace is all condos, so you're likely to find a larger selection of units for sale, and more inventory can mean lower prices. On the other hand, Cabbagetown isn't exactly chock full of condos, so there's a lot less to choose from, and less inventory equals more demand (and higher prices).

  2. Demographics. A condo in action-packed King West will attract a different set of buyers than one in (more sedate) Yorkville.

  3. Builder reputation. A unit in a building built by an established company with a great rep is likely to command a higher price than one built by a company no one has heard of. But if that doesn't matter to you, getting a lower price might be the way you get value.

  4. Tenanted or owner-occupied? Some buildings have a higher rate of rentals versus owner-occupied units. Do you want to live in a building that feels like a community? An owner-occupied one will be the better deal. But if you're investing in a unit in order to rent it out, lots of tenants may be a plus.

  5. Condition of unit. Similar units in the same building can vary in value because of the state of repair. A condo that's been rented for several years might look shabby compared to a beautifully staged and updated showpiece. However, if you have the skills, you could polish up that hidden gem and get your value that way.

  6. Building amenities. Pool, gym, rooftop barbecue, bike storage, media room? For some, not having a gym may be a deal-breaker, while another buyer may not care about that at all.

  7. View. This is an easy one. A unit overlooking a parking lot is never as sexy as a condo overlooking the lake. Exposure counts too.

  8. Penthouse or ground floor? For someone who hates elevators or has mobility issues, the ground floor unit might be perfect. For another, it’s all about the view from the top.

  9. Layout. Open concept or lots of doors? Long and skinny or wide with lots of windows? Great for entertaining or perfect for solitude?

  10. Maintenance fees. A unit might be priced attractively, but if the maintenance fees are exorbitant, you're not getting a deal. Do the math first.

Bottom line: are you getting a "deal?" Only you and your agent can decide.

Understanding the stats

You can also determine value based on trends and stats from the building and the neighbourhood. What have things sold for historically? What are typical maintenance fees? How quickly is the area developing? The info is out there - you just have to find it and sift through it. That's where some professional expertise can really help. Having a 20-minute conversation with a Condo Pro can save you weeks of research.

Not only are we up-to-the-minute on stats and sales trends, we know buildings. Condo Pros can tell you which layouts aren't great, what kind of rep the builders and property managers have, what the area is like, and what kind of development is happening in the area. I live in King West myself, so I know my neighbourhood and the downtown core very well. It's insight that can help you make the best decision for you - and ultimately land you the best value for your budget.

Rob Ackerley, Sales Representative

Rob has been helping Toronto buy and sell condos since 2008. He has been the recipient of the President’s Gold Award and the Winner's Circle and was named a Top Producer in 2018 and 2019. His passion for downtown is obvious: he lives and works in the core, focusing on (but not limited to) King West, CityPlace, Liberty Village, St. Lawrence Market and loft buildings across the city.

Want to know more about buying or selling a condo in the city? Get in touch!

[email protected]
416 995 6983

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