When it comes to purchasing a condo unit, many of my buyer clients ask me which is the better choice, buying a resale or pre-construction unit. The difference between the two being that one already physically exists and the other one does not. Deciding which route to take depends on a few factors such as timeline, motive and capital.
When purchasing a resale condo unit there are no surprises; what you see is what you get. You know exactly what you are getting into as you can physically visit the unit, see what finishes have been used, know how the management is running the building, etc. Generally speaking, items such as window coverings, light fixtures and built-ins are left behind by the sellers which are a bonus. Another positive aspect of buying resale is that a buyer is able to visit multiple units in different locations before making a decision to see which one best suits their needs. The down side of resale is that you are not the first owner of the unit and some prep work of the unit may be required before move in.
On the other hand, when purchasing a pre-construction condo unit, you are essentially buying an idea and not a tangible item as the condo doesn’t physically exist yet. Instead of visiting the unit, you visit the sales center where you purchase off of a floor plan where you must visualize the space you are purchasing. The nice thing about buying pre-construction is that you are the first owner and everything is brand spanking new. By the time the builder has sold enough units to start construction and construction has been completed, it isn’t until years later that you are actually able to move in. If you are looking to move into a condo unit immediately or within a short time period, then resale is the way to go but if you are able to wait a few years and have a flexible timeline then pre-construction may just be what you are looking for.
The next thing to consider is motive. What is your reason for buying a condo unit? Is it to reside in or to flip? When buying a resale condo unit, you can potentially move in immediately whereas if you buy pre-construction you must be patient and flexible as the original occupancy date will most likely fluctuate. If it’s an investment that you are looking to get into then pre-construction may just earn you that extra cash you are looking for. When buying pre-construction, you buy at today’s market price so depending on the market situation when you buy versus when you sell determines whether you make a profit or loss.
Finally one of the most important elements of buying a condo unit is the cost and if you can afford the financial obligation. In either situation, a down payment must be made. In resale, on average a 5% down payment is given as a deposit with the offer. Depending on what has been arranged with the bank, a further deposit is paid to the bank upon unit closing. This deposit amount can vary from 5% down to 100% down, in which case a mortgage would not be required. When you purchase a pre-construction unit however this flexibility is not allowed. The builder has strict deadlines when deposits must be made. Usually a deposit is made with the initial signing of the documents, another one upon closing and then a few others in between which usually totals about 25% down.
A condo can be a great investment and a great place to live whether you purchase resale or pre-construction. Choosing which route to take depends mostly on your urgency to move but also on your financial situation and your reason for buying. In either case take the time to determine which route makes the most sense for you.
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