Tough First Call! Condo or House?

Hey You… Yes You!

Guess what?I have a secret to share with you. Are you ready for this? It’s worth the wait, I promise! Being a first time home buyer under 35… is… challenging to say the least. Yes- you heard me right. And this is coming from the mouth of your local ’35 and under’ real estate agent.

I’m sure at this point you are scratching your head and wondering why a real estate agent would make such claims. I say this because I am in your shoes. I’m in the market to buy and yes- you guessed it, I am a first time buyer. I’ll tell you, It’s not been an easy task.

There are so many things to consider. I honestly thought that I’d never be able to own real estate and if I did, there would not be much to choose from. So here it is- my real estate hunting journey. My hope is that through my experience, I will make it a little bit easier for you- my fellow first time buyers.

What are the options?

 Since i’m a first time buyer my budget is not very big, my research was based on houses that range around $320,000ish and under.

 Given the current market, my price range left me with a few options… a condo or a much older house.

 Let’s break down the advantage of both!

 Ok, condo or older home?

I’m a numbers gal so here is a breakdown of what I would pay monthly and, just for fun, per square foot.

Comparitive Chart for Condos and Detached Homes in Guelph.jpg

Option One: Buy a Condo in Guelph

Captain obvious alert! Owning a newer condo is a bit more expensive. That is mainly attributed to the condo fee. Yes, the condo fee makes your monthly payments go up, however there is a silver lining- The condo fee covers things that you don’t have to worry about.  What does it cover you ask? And is it worth it? Well I’ll let you decide…

Based on the property example from above here is what a condo fee would cover:

Building Insurance: This covers the building’s common areas, halls, as well as the elevator’s walls and roof. What this does not cover is what happens inside your unit. Have a leak? Does it go into a neighbouring unit? Well you may be on the hook for that, and of course it does not cover your personal belongings.

Common Elements: Hallway floors vacuumed and mopped, walls cleaned and dust free, plants watered, elevator always shiny. Covered!

Exterior Maintenance: A beautifully cut lawn in the summer and snow removal in the winter. Salt put down so you don’t fall. Windows washed so you can see all that beautiful landscaping they are maintaining for you. So now you can sit back, relax and enjoy your morning coffee instead of spending your Saturdays mowing.

Parking: Sometimes included depending on the purchase.

Property Management Fee: Usually a company hired by the condo corporation to deal with the day-to- day business of the condo.

So there you have it. You can own a property chore-free. Oh the life it shall be!

Now, If you are like me, and don’t mind something a bit older, you can go with option two- a detached home. No condo fee and based on my above example- cut your monthly cost by over $280!

Option Two: Buy a Detached House in Guelph

Remember all the things I mentioned above? Lawn care, shiny and cleaned elevators, plowed and salted driveways in the winter? Ok now forget it, delete it from your memory because when you get your own house these things are now your responsibility. Which some people really enjoy. Lawn care, gardening… fixing up the house can be very therapeutic and rewarding to some.

Here are a few other advantages of buying a home in this price range.

First, LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION, most of the older detached homes I looked at were located in the downtown area of Guelph. An easy walk to the shops, restaurants and bars. Take a stroll through the park, or if you are feeling adventurous, check out a lovely recreational trail.

What sets this property apart and many others downtown, is that the neighbourhood won’t be “recreated”. If you like that type of experience – shops, restaurants, walkability, then this may be your best bet.

Second, an important thing to consider is…originality. These lovely war time houses, in all their glory and yes I’ll even say in their cuteness, are not going to be built like this again. Walk through The Ward and take a good look around. These houses are not all built the same. Each has its own unique feature that you just won’t see in town homes.

A lot of town homes are cookie-cutter builds that all look very similar.  Which, don’t get me wrong, is not bad. Just think long-term, when you are no longer a first time buyer and you are ready to make the move.

Now imagine it’s time to sell. Well aren’t you lucky? You own this cute little uniquely-built home in the middle of downtown Guelph with some nice upgrades all done by you!

Just take a moment and let that vision set in.

What Did I Learn Today?

So what did all my research uncover? That being a first time home buyer is not that bad. Yes I know I said it was challenging but with some good old fashion hard work and research there are still lots of options for us.

Having the right agent on your side helps. I’m fortunate to be in the industry and have the skills and knowledge to work through this stuff. If you are finding it confusing and complicated please know you are not alone. I’m honestly just a phone call away. Even if it’s just for some advice.

Working with the right pro definitely makes this whole process easier. The market is still buzzing with activity.We still see multiple offers, prices are still a bit crazy with year after year increases higher than ever. But there is still hope for us and lots of it.

So, What Did I Decide on: a Condo or a House?

Truly, it depends on you as a buyer. Are you someone who just wants to get into the market and would rather not spend the majority of your weekend working around your house? Then maybe a condo is right for you.

Or are you someone that enjoys a good project and don’t mind putting some elbow grease into it knowing you have location and a unique piece of real estate on your side for when you sell.

So regardless of what tickles your fancy the good news is that options are out there for us. And yes… my hunt still continues for my home!