Is now the right time to sell a house and move to a condo?

Is now the right time to sell a house and move to a condo?

Thinking about downsizing from a house to a condo? You couldn't pick a better time than now. Houses are hot and condos have cooled, especially in the core, so you get the best of both worlds: top dollar and a quick sale on your house, and a big selection of condos, motivated sellers, and the ability to take your time finding the perfect place.

The benefits of moving from a detached home into a condo are huge, especially if you’re heading towards retirement: no maintenance, great amenities, single-storey living, and you can lock it and leave it whenever you want. There are some financial pluses too: you'll likely be buying something that costs less than the house you're selling, which gives you room to clear your balance sheet, boost your savings, or even help your kids get into the market themselves.

We talked to Adam Linden, Sales Representative and Seniors' Real Estate Specialist (SRES), about what the downsizers he works with are typically looking for right now, and the advice he offers to help them make the right move.

“The demand for freehold homes has skyrocketed,” he says. “And not just in Toronto, but across the GTA and beyond. I have a number of clients who are taking advantage of that market, then turning around and buying a condo or a house outside the core that checks all their boxes.”

Here are just a few examples of how his clients are selling high and buying low:

  • One client sold their house in Thornhill for $1.15 million and moved to a large, well-appointed condo in the same area for $685K .

  • Another sold a house at Avenue and Lawrence for $1.6 million, picking up a beautiful house in Aurora for $1.3 million.

  • A couple sold their Richmond Hill house for $1.4 million, relocating to a smaller townhome in a more central Forest Hill location for $1.25 million.

“A lot of my clients just wake up one day and know it's time to make the change,” says Adam. “They realize they don’t want to fix the roof, maintain the furnace, shovel snow or walk up and down a bunch of stairs. And in terms of pricing and the market, this has been a great time to make that switch.”

What should you be thinking about when moving from a house to a condo?

While it’s certainly practical to make a decision based primarily on price, make sure that’s not the only thing you’re thinking about. There are a few other factors to consider when you’re making a move from a house to a condo:

1. Location

Do you want to live in an area where you can walk to your local bagel place or coffee shop? Where the subway is just a short walk away? Or are you okay hopping in your car to pick up your latte or grab a couple of ingredients for dinner? Would you rather stay close to your current neighborhood so you can stay in touch with friends? Or leave the city entirely and settle somewhere where your buying power goes a little further?

If being an urbanite is in your blood, relocating to the suburbs or out to the country could mean culture shock. Spend lots of time checking out the area you think you might want to move to. Make it more than a day trip: stay in an Airbnb in the neighbourhood (or even in the building, if that’s an option) for a few days to see if you'd be happy actually living there. The same thing applies if you’re a lifelong suburbanite looking to buy downtown. Make sure you can handle the sounds, the pace and the density of the city, before making a move.

Also, don’t forget to factor in where your friends and family are: being close to the important people in your life should be part of your decisions.

Type of building

2. Type of building

Condo buildings often attract very specific demographics: some have a lot of young professionals, some have a higher percentage of renters, and others are geared to mature homeowners. Your Condo Pro can tell you which ones might be a good fit for you.

“A lot of my clients know someone who lives in the building they’re buying into,” says Adam. “So they already know they like it, and have a built-in social circle that's just an elevator ride away. I recently had a client leave a high-rise in the core to move to a small boutique building near Sunnybrook so she could be close to a friend.”

That's another thing to consider: building size. Smaller buildings haven't been as heavily impacted by COVID. They haven’t seen the big jump in listings and drop in demand that high-rises have. And that’s likely because during the pandemic, living in a place with only a few units doesn't pose the same risk as sharing elevators and common areas with hundreds of other residents.

But beyond the concerns of COVID, the size and feel of a condominium is an important consideration. Do you want to live in a place that feels more intimate but has fewer amenities? Or do you prefer a soaring skyscraper with incredible views?

3. Amenities

Great amenities are one of the biggest benefits of living in a condo: access to swimming pools, hot tubs, saunas, fitness centres, movie rooms, dog washing stations, underground parking, concierge services, rooftop terraces and more offer huge convenience and an incomparable lifestyle. But not everyone will use a pool or work out in the gym. Bigger buildings with more residents will generally have more amenities, but that doesn’t mean smaller condos don’t have any: every building is different.

“My clients love saunas,” says Adam. “They are by far the most requested amenity for the mature market I serve.”

4. Unit size

When you’re moving from a 3,000 square foot home, you probably won’t be comfortable in 700 square feet. As a result, downsizers tend to be attracted to bigger units (which are often found in older buildings, but not exclusively so). Of course, if all you’re looking for is a pied-a terre in the city while you spend most of your time travelling, a small unit may be just what you’re looking for.

“Clients who are downsizing generally want big units: 1,200 square feet or more, with plenty of space and lockers for storage,” says Adam. “And they want to be close to services, restaurants, doctors, hospitals and friends. They are willing to sell their house for $1.4 million, buy a condo for $850,000 and renovate so it gives them everything they want. Plus, they're looking for good service and are willing to pay for it. This demographic does well with an agent who understands their specific needs and is connected to a strong network of movers, lawyers, stagers, decorators and other services who also understand those needs.”

Looking to take advantage of a great market for downsizers? Connect with a Condo Pro today!

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