Are you thinking of downsizing from a house to a condo? While a house can provide years (and even decades) of enjoyment, there comes a time for many homeowners when condo living makes more sense.
Whether you’re looking to save money, cash in on your home investment, or embrace a lower-maintenance lifestyle, the benefits of downsizing are considerable. That said, there are potential pros and cons associated with this major life choice, and knowing what they are can help you make a more informed decision.
Here’s what you should know if you’re thinking of downsizing from a house to a condo…
Moving into a condominium means embracing a new lifestyle. To determine whether condo living is right for you, consider some of the major changes that come with swapping your house for a unit.
Once you move into a condo, you’ll almost certainly devote less time to home maintenance and repairs. Your condo corporation will be responsible for the upkeep of common areas in your building, as well as some issues that will impact your property directly (in most cases, damage from a burst pipe or leaky roof will fall into this category). Areas of responsibility vary from one building to the next, so consult your condominium declaration and bylaws for clarity.
Toronto’s liveliest neighbourhoods are full of top-notch condo buildings. If you decide to make one of them home, you’ll be just steps away from popular restaurants, bars, and shopping centres. Depending on the building you choose, you may also have immediate access to convenient amenities such as a fitness centre, yoga studio, or indoor spa.
Condo buildings have restricted front-door access, which can provide peace of mind for those with safety concerns. Some buildings also feature advanced security systems and round-the-clock concierge service.
Privacy, noise, and rules
If you buy a condo, you’ll own a unit in a shared building. You’ll likely hear the occasional noise coming from your neighbour’s home, and vice versa. You’ll also be expected to adhere to the rules set out by management—such as those related to pet ownership and visitor use of common elements. Finding a building that works for your lifestyle can ensure that your condo board’s rules don’t restrict your day-to-day life. When it comes to privacy and noise concerns, some condos have better soundproofing than others, so asking the right questions is key.
One of the biggest reasons for downsizing from a house to a condo is to save money. To ensure that purchasing a unit will help you meet your future goals, consider all relevant factors that will impact your finances.
If you’ve paid off the mortgage on your house, selling it and purchasing a less-expensive condo can provide you with a tidy profit. If your mortgage isn’t yet paid off, you may be able to reduce your payments. Either way, remember that downsizing from a house to a condo will typically also lead to lower property taxes and utility bills. When you sell your house, an experienced real estate agent can help ensure that you get the best price possible for your home.
Condo living can come with its own expenses, the most significant of which is usually maintenance fees. These fees (which are collected from every unit owner) will go toward running your building and maintaining common areas. They vary from building to building, but you can expect to pay anywhere from 50 cents to over a dollar per square foot.
If you’re planning to move again in the future, buying a condo can be a savvy investment. Historically, condos in Toronto have solid appreciation rates. This is especially true when it comes to buildings in central neighbourhoods that provide good access to transit—like King West. If you’re downsizing from a house to a condo, your agent can help you find a unit that’s likely to appeal to future buyers.
Capital gains tax
When you sell an investment, you typically have to pay a capital gains tax on 50 per cent of your profit (at the marginal tax rate). That said, you may be pleasantly surprised to learn that you don’t have to pay this tax on the money you make from selling your principal residence. This rule translates into major savings if you’re a home seller.
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