This is a question that has never had so much importance for new property buyers. Today's generation grew up with stories from their parents, who told them about buying entry level homes in their 20’s in Toronto for affordable prices, today these stories for a first-time home buyer seem like fairy tales. But if price is not an issue the question between purchasing a condominium or a home is up to personal preference and there are pros and cons for both types of ownership.
The question between buying a condominium and a house used to be more about personal preference, whether you wanted to downsize for retirement, or just preferred not to have a lawn to cut or bushes to prune etc. Now it may mostly come down to budget as the average price of a condo in Toronto is currently around 530,000 dollars* the average price of a detached home in the city is currently around 830,000 dollars*, quite a price jump and possible mortgage load out of reach for most first-time home buyers. That hefty price tag for an “average home” in Toronto more likely than not means a home that is outdated and needs quite a bit of renovation work. This means two things for a potential buyer, first they need to have money available to complete this work, meaning the amount of their down payment may be affected, and secondly living amongst renovations can be highly stressful and messy, and most people cannot afford the cost of both the renovation and possible alternate living arrangements while the work is being completed. Alternately if you were to look for resale condominiums in Toronto around that same 830,000-dollar price point, you would find most are spacious and relatively new and ready to be moved into and lived in right away, in fact you would find most at that price point to be luxurious. If you are an entry level home buyer and want to live in the city you may not have a choice, but to choose a condominium on price alone. The average price of a home outside the city of Toronto decreases dramatically but if you work in the city a long rush hour commute home is something you may want to factor in to your choice. A condominium is a great way to enter the property ladder in the city and potentially stay on that ladder until you can buy a home within the city if you still desire to do so.
If price is not an object for you in terms of being able to afford both a home in Toronto or a similarly priced condominium this question probably just comes down to preference and lifestyle. Todays newest generation of homebuyer’s millennials are not the same type of homebuyers 20 or even 10 years earlier. Travel and life experience have taken priority over stability and traditional work/live values. Today's generation of young home buyers prefer convenience over maintenance, they want to be able to drop what they are doing at any time and travel to a new place or go on an impromptu adventure or attend an event. In this case a condominium could be preferable because all you need to do is walk out the front door knowing your condo fees are taking care of all exterior maintenance for your unit, and there are not multiple locations of ingress into your home for potential burglary or other such activity, In other words piece of mind.
The cost of running your household? What costs you more condominium fees? Or yearly home maintenance? To start with both expenses are structured in very different ways. Condo fees though subject to increase month over month are the same, allowing you to plan your finances with a lot more regularity and assurance. Condominium fees are based on the size of your unit, and also the amenities the building contains, buildings with more amenities and more expensive amenities to maintain such as swimming pools or hot tubs will be higher than buildings with basic amenities or few amenities, this comes back to your lifestyle, what amenities do you want access to for the lifestyle you want to live and what amenities are you willing to pay to maintain. Condo fees also comprehensively covers most maintenance in the building including pest control and HVAC maintenance and exterior window cleaning and covers with the portion of your monthly payment that goes to the reserve fund any emergency building repairs that may be needed, and any future updates or renovations to your building to keep it looking nice and current. Home maintenance can be harder to gauge, but the one important thing to note is as the homeowner you are responsible for all maintenance and that maintenance is voluntary not required in a monthly fee. Meaning if you are not concerned about the good appearance or maintenance of your home costs can be relatively low. Given that this is a relatively rare occurrence a good estimate for your home maintenance is usually about 3-5% of your homes value per year* which can be quite expensive, not to mention for any repair or service you require, you must plan on your own i.e. find a contractor meet them at a given time etc. Besides the usual repairs there are the manual maintenance of grass cutting gardening and snow removal, which for some can affect their lifestyle, whereas the cost of these services is paid for and taken care of by condo fees every month. Although a large condo in a building with many amenities can be expense as far as maintenance fees are concerned, the fact that the cost is neatly laid out for you to put into your total monthly budget, and you don’t actually have to take part in the planning of this maintenance in any way, condo fees can be preferable to a generation whose lifestyle is constantly on the go.
Whether it boils down to affordability, or lifestyle and preference, purchasing a condominium or home in the City of Toronto can be quite a lucrative investment asset for your portfolio.