How To Buy A Condo: A Guide Like No Other

December 11, 2019

There are no two ways about it; becoming a homeowner is a big deal. It’s an emotional roller-coaster filled with excitement, stress, arguments, happiness, worry…basically, insert every emotion possible here.


And where do you even start?! Buying a condo is another adulting milestone that we don’t get taught in school, and it can feel like we’re left high and dry to navigate one of the most important purchases of our lives. We’ve spent years navigating the property market in Calgary, as developers, and as buyers. Based on our experience, we’ve written a handy guide on how to begin your journey to homeownership.


How much can you afford? – This step isn’t required, but it sure is a good idea. There’s nothing worse than starting the shopping phase, finding something you love, and discovering you can’t afford it. It’s like a punch to the gut and can derail your whole journey.  


Figuring out how much you can afford is not an exact science that will require you having to spend hours getting documents ready and meeting with ‘professionals.’ In fact, you don’t even have to talk to anyone yet. You just need to work the numbers in a couple of ways.


  • How much will the bank lend me? To do this, use an online affordability calculator to crunch the numbers. This is NOT a credit check, and most banks have this tool readily available. RBC has a great, user-friendly one. As long as the data you’ve entered is accurate, then the answer you’ll get will be close to the maximum amount a bank will lend you. P.S. That doesn’t mean you have to spend that much.  
  • How much do you want to spend per month? To do this, start with how much you currently spend. Then think about out how much more you would be comfortable paying per month. Once you have a monthly number, you can use a mortgage calculator to work backward to come up with an approximate amount you should spend.


Don’t stress about getting this perfect. You’ll probably end up with a figure somewhere between the 2 numbers that will help keep your search on track. 


Set a goal – If you look up #goals on Instagram, you’ll find it’s been used in more than 80 million posts. But this isn’t about having the most Instagrammable condo. Before you come up with a ‘Must Have’ (bedrooms, bathrooms, etc.) or a ‘Wishlist’ (pool, gym, etc.), consider why you want to buy in the first place. Ask yourself:


  • What are you trying to change about your current situation? 
  • What will your new life, in your new place, enable you to do? 


Think about how you live, how you want to live, and what that means. Do you travel a lot? Then you don’t need the stress of a high maintenance yard. Do you go out a lot? Your life will be a lot easier if you’re closer to your usual haunts. Do you cook or order in? You get the gist…Once you start shopping, your ‘Must Have’ and ‘Wish List’ will begin to materialize. If your search is centered around your goal, then it will help keep your mind open to more options. Looking for your future home should be a journey, not a checklist. 


Start Shopping – Armed with a general idea of what you can afford and a clear picture of what your desired future life looks like, hit the pavement and go shopping. But be aware, this isn’t an easy process. It isn’t like going to the mall and picking out a shirt. This is more like going to the food court in the mall. When you’re hangry, and you kinda know what you want to eat, but bae wants to eat somewhere else, and now you have no idea what you want.


To begin with, do some online research, ask your friends of condo buildings they’ve heard of, walk around some of the blocks you may want to live in, and make a list of sales centers to visit. Then book some appointments, and go to see some condos. At your appointments, ask exactly 1 million questions and be open to new ideas, remember this is about achieving a goal, not checking things off a list. Don’t be afraid to open up and share as much information with your salesperson as possible. Nobody can force you to do anything you don’t want to do. You are a strong, independent home-searcher, but this information will help them, help you. A good salesperson will understand your goals, not just your checklist.


The shopping part of your journey will be the longest, it will be the most exciting, and it will be the most stressful. But there are some things you can do to ease the pain a little.


  • Condense your search time. Give yourself 4-6 weeks to do your shopping and research. Check out different places within a few days of each other. Having everything fresh in your mind will help when evaluating and comparing each option.
  • Someone might swoop in and take your perfect condo if you wait too long. Real Estate isn’t like buying a car. No two places are the same, and you can’t just re-order or wait for it to come back in stock. So if you love it, go for it. 
  • Decision paralysis is real. If your search seems to be dragging on forever, stop looking for a bit. Re-evaluate your goal and ask yourself if you’re really ready to buy. 


Remember, there is a point when shopping goes from fun to torture. 


JUMP! – Holy shit, this is it. You’ve done your shopping, and you’ve found the condo that fits your budget and achieves the goal you set out for yourself. You’ve validated your choice with your trusted tribe so much so that they’re sick of hearing about it. You’ve talked yourself out of it…and then back into it on an almost hourly basis. Now it’s time to take the leap. There’s no doubt that this is scary AF, but at some point, you have to let go of the rail and jump. Writing an offer is the next step and is something you do for you, and you alone. To help ease your dissonance, keep this in mind, it’s just an offer, and you still have some exits. 


  • When you buy a new condo, you get 10 days to review all of the documents and fine print. Read it thoroughly, ask another million questions, and have a professional review them for you.
  • Take your purchase contract to the bank and get qualified for the mortgage. This is the real qualification, not like the fakey before. At this point, they will verify all of your info and check your credit. 


After these 10 days and once you’ve completed your final review, it’s time to high five your salesperson and everyone you see in the street and of course, celebrate. You did it, now it’s time to…


Relax – This is it. You’ve bought a condo, and now it’s time to sit back and enjoy. You now have a new home, an end date for your old life, and a start date for your new, improved life. 


If you bought pre-construction, there are so many things you could do with the time between purchase and moving in that will help make the transition to homeowner easier. Because it is a transition. 


  • Set yourself a savings goal. You could find a cheaper rental, maybe get a roommate or dare we say, move back in with your parents (sorry), and start stashing away the cash. Sacrifice is a lot easier when you know there’s an end date. 
  • Learn a new language. You’ve got so much extra time now you’re not obsessing over condos, why not download Duolingo?
  •  Adjust your spending. This is the most important, particularly if your new Condo bills will be slightly higher than what you’re used to paying. Put the difference into a savings account. Adjusting now will mean your lifestyle won’t change when you move in. 
  • Buy some new furniture. Or learn how to make furniture with all that spare time! You know what your new place is going to look like, you know the floorplan off by heart. So instead of spending a bulk sum, as most people are forced to, spread the cost over a few months or years. Buy bits as you can afford to and ask for stuff for Christmas or your birthday. 
  • RELAX. You did it. Congratulations, homeowner! 


If you feel like you’re ready to start your journey and would like to book an appointment at NUDE HQ, just head over to our registration page and we’ll be in touch.

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