Why filters are your friends

Why filters are your friends

You’ve probably been reading the headlines: there’s a serious shortage of properties for sale across the city. So how do you find that unicorn that fits your budget AND meets all your requirements? Filters, listing alerts – and a lot of patience.

You can use filters to do a lot more than just find places in your price range. Condos.ca (and property.ca too!) filters are powerful tools that help you narrow your search, pinpoint overlooked gems, jump on listings that have just hit the market, and more.

But like any tool, they work best when you know how to use ‘em. So here’s a quick walk-through of the options available when you choose “for sale” from the menu on condos.ca. (Most are available when you’re looking for a rental, too.)

For sale/sold. The first thing you’ll see is this little toggle. “For sale” shows you stuff that’s currently on the market, while “sold”…well, that’s probably just as obvious. Looking at sold listings is your key to figuring out how much properties with your criteria are selling for, and getting you the knowledge you need to make a winning offer.

Read more: How condo price history makes you a smarter buyer

Price. This one is also pretty self-explanatory. Select the down arrow to open up a slider where you can specify your price range. Remember, though – a lot of places sell for over asking these days, so if your budget is $800K, the properties listed close to your limit may sell for more. Your agent can give you more info in those situations.

Location. Search the neighbourhoods/towns you’re interested in by choosing from predefined areas or using the map tool.

Read more: Narrow your search with the condos.ca map tool

More filters. This is where you can get really specific about how many bedrooms and bathrooms you want and how much square footage you’re looking for.

Home type. If you’re looking to live in a smaller building, a luxury condo, or you have your heart set on a penthouse view, this is where you can specify that.

Parking. Need a spot to stow your wheels? This filter lets you search by places with parking. Or if you don’t need a parking spot, you can search for units that don’t come with one. Choose “any” (the default) to see all the available options.

Locker.  Not every condo comes with an additional storage locker. If you have stuff that won’t fit into your condo, choosing the “has locker” option is a good idea. “Any” will serve up listings with and without.

Balcony. Outdoor space is a pretty big deal these days, with condos that have balconies and terraces going for an unmistakable premium. Select “has balcony,” and you’ll only be served up listings that have one. However, if it’s not high up on your list of must-haves, searching for “no balcony” could net you some listings where you’ll have less competition.

Days on market. This is a great way to access older listings, which can be a good opportunity to snag a property that may have been initially mis-priced and didn’t get enough attention in its first couple of weeks on the market. (The listings appear from fewest days on the market to most, so to access the ones that have been around longest, scroll down to the bottom and go to the last few available pages.) This feature also lets you see only places that have come up in the last few days so you can see what’s new without having to wade through everything.

Building age. Newer buildings tend to be a little sexier, while older buildings can offer great value, as long as the building is well-maintained. 

Has photos. Everyone wants lots of photos to decide if a property is worth seeing. But sometimes, the ones that don’t have many pics (or have terrible ones) get passed over by buyers. Going to see one of these properties might get you an overlooked gem.

Maintenance. This number can range wildly from building to building. This filter will help you narrow things down to a monthly price tag you can live with.

Read more: 7 myths about maintenance fees

Amenities. From gyms and indoor pools to party rooms and rooftop gardens, this filter finds you the places that have your must-have extras.

Exposure. Always dreamed of living with a view of the lake? This filter lets you weed out lakefront units that face away from the water. Love lots of sunlight? Specify west or southwest exposure. Can’t live without the sunset? A unit facing east, southeast, or northeast is your ticket.

Property type. If you have your heart set on a condo townhouse or a co-op, this will serve up the properties you’re looking for.

Once you’ve set your filters, you can also set up an alert that will send you daily or weekly lists of newly added properties that fit your criteria. When the perfect match hits your inbox, it’s time to call your Property.ca agent!

Buyer tip: go easy on the filters

One thing to keep in mind: the more filters you select, the fewer listings you’ll get. So play around a bit to make sure you aren’t missing something great by, say, only searching 2 bedrooms when there could be a 1+1 that fits the bill, or only specifying low-rise buildings and not seeing a great lower-floor unit in a highrise.

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