If you’re looking to buy a condo in Vancouver, one of the first questions to consider has to do with age. Do you want to purchase an older unit or one that has been built more recently?
This question is harder to answer than you might think. Newer condos may look flashy and appealing, but they’re not necessarily a better fit for your needs.
In Vancouver, there are plenty of old and new condos for sale, and there are plenty of buyers looking for both. What matters isn’t simply the age, but rather what each age range has to offer. To discover which one is right for you, you’ll need to consider your lifestyle and be clear on what you value in a home or investment property.
Here are four questions to ask yourself as you weigh your options.
Is one more affordable than the other?
At first blush, older condos appear more affordable than newer ones. That said, don’t take those lower listing prices at face value. There are plenty of potential costs lurking behind them.
For starters, older stratas typically come with higher monthly maintenance fees. This isn’t always a bad thing – since it often reflects prudent budgeting and leads to a healthy contingency reserve fund – but it’s a cost that potential buyers should take into account.
The larger ticket concerns have to do with the prospective building’s maintenance and condition. Older buildings are prone to significant special levies, due to major repairs that are required to keep them safe and structurally sound.
If you’re considering a property built before 1996, investigate what kind of projects have already been completed. Is the roof in good condition? Has the elevator been upgraded? Has the building been rain screened? These and other questions will tell you a lot about what kind of expenses you need to plan for down the road.
That’s not to say that newer buildings get away scot-free. Since young stratas typically have lower maintenance fees, they may be ill-prepared for the first round of routine exterior maintenance – which typically happens 10 years after construction. Again, you’ll do well to ask thoughtful questions and dig behind the surface-level financials.
Buyers looking to purchase a rental investment property should take a hard look at pre-sale condos. While you’ll have to pay five percent GST, you’re going to have a crisp new unit on your hands. Your appliance and common property will be covered by warranty. Moreover, potential renters will love the prospect of living in a brand-new building.
Will they both have the amenities I’m looking for?
If in-house amenities are important to you, you’re likely to lean towards a newer condo.
Older buildings were constructed at a time when in-suite laundry was considered a luxury. As such, it’s not uncommon for those properties to have shared laundry services. If you’re looking for impromptu connections with your neighbours, you might not mind this inconvenience. However, for many condo buyers, this point is a dealbreaker.
Similarly, older buildings don’t always have fitness facilities. If you count on this convenience and don’t have a gym nearby, this drawback could also steer you toward a newer property.
Newer buildings also provide the benefit of EV charging stations. With the rapid growth of EV cars in Greater Vancouver, this feature is more than a gimmick. It’s a crucial necessity for commuters that need a fully charged vehicle to get to work every morning. That’s not to say that older buildings won’t have this capability. It’s just not as common, due to the sizable cost of this upgrade.
However, there is one amenity which is often more attractive in older buildings: storage lockers. You’ll often find that these properties come with ample space to keep things that don’t fit inside your condo. Newer buildings, on the other hand, typically have smaller lockers – primarily suited for bike storage.
What kind of layout design do they offer?
A brief glance at a building’s exterior will give you a good sense of its age. Design themes have shifted significantly since apartment buildings and high-rises began to be constructed in Vancouver.
It’s no different on the inside. Older condos reflect the interior design trends of their time. Back in the 1970s and 1980s, for example, party hosts liked to have a separation between their kitchen and their living rooms. Nowadays, hosts are happy to have their guests witness their preparations.
Likewise, older kitchens reflect the perceived cooking needs of their time. In the age of TV dinners and simpler meals, most people were content with fewer countertops and appliances compared to the spacious kitchens that contemporary residents insist on.
Technological features are also likely to be limited in older condos since they weren’t constructed and wired for the smart appliances that are popular today. If you’re a trendsetter when it comes to new electronic devices, you’ll likely lean towards newer buildings that can accommodate your needs.
That said, it’s not as if condos have gotten bigger. The more space that goes into your kitchen, the less square footage is available for your bedroom. What’s more, what older condos lack in appliances is often made up in other design features such as architectural character, fireplaces, and roomier balconies.
Are older condos in better locations than newer ones?
One fear that potential buyers have is that newer buildings are stuck in less-than-ideal locations.
After all, older buildings typically reside in classic neighbourhoods. When you buy into them, you’re entering an established community. Shopping centres and personal services providers are readily available. There’s often a robust communal life that you can participate in, making your condo a home and not just somewhere where you sleep when you’re not working.
There are some newer condo developments in older neighbourhoods, but commonly, newer buildings have to start fresh when it comes to community building.
However, that’s not necessarily a downside. When you buy a newer condo, you get to influence the character and culture of your neighbourhood. As you can see in some Vancouver neighbourhoods – like Olympic Village – community spirit can develop faster than you think.
Moreover, other hotspots for construction have been carefully situated to invite this kind of community-shaping. For example, recent developments in Brentwood have revitalized a central core on the Lougheed Highway. Incoming residents get to work together as they find their communal voice and lay the groundwork for the area’s future.
Contact Rick Clarke and the Real Estate Valley Team Today
There’s a good chance you’re finishing this post with more questions than you started with. That’s not a bad thing. As we said at the beginning, there are no cut-and-dry answers to the old condo vs. new condo dilemma.
We do have one easy answer for you, however: when it comes to choosing a realtor, look no further than Rick Clarke and the Real Estate Valley Team.
Our experienced agents have walked countless condo buyers through this process. We’re here to listen and learn about you, so we can help you find the perfect fit for your needs. With experience all over Greater Vancouver, we’ll guide you to the right neighbourhood and condo choice for your lifestyle.
Whether you want to speak with us on the phone or initiate the process through our online contact form, we can’t wait to hear from you. We look forward to serving you as you find the condo you’re looking for.Posted by Rick Clarke on