Read This Blog Before Buying a Condo in Downtown Vancouver

Category: First Time Buyer,

Downtown Vancouver is a very desirable place to live and invest, particularly for those looking to buy a condo. Before making a purchase there are many things to consider. Eitan Pinsky recently sat down with Ben Kay of Macdonald Realty, who offered plenty of wisdom on neighbourhood selection, condo maintenance, layouts, parking, windups, and more. If you’re considering the purchase of a condo in Downtown Vancouver, don’t miss out on this valuable advice. 

What’s So  Great About Downtown Vancouver? 

“When you’re alone and life is making you lonely you can always go downtown,” sang Petula Clark in her smash hit ‘Downtown.’ Kay has a similarly favourable view of the city centre. 

“Our downtown is incredible and we forget that until we leave sometimes,” says the realtor. “It’s a stunning, beautiful setting with office and residential spaces, as well as parks.” 

Those who live in Downtown Vancouver are less dependent upon cars and transit and enjoy access to a surprising amount of nature. Kay cites Nightingale and Maxine’s among his favourite downtown restaurants, but those who move to the area will surely develop their own lists. 

Which Downtown Vancouver Neighbourhood Should I Live in? 

Which of Vancouver’s downtown neighbourhoods does Kay recommend to his clients? He answers this question with a question of his own. 

“I always ask my clients what they enjoy,” he says.  It often comes down to lifestyle and priorities. “Families usually want something with more access to parks, maybe something a little quieter,” he explains. 

For parks, Kay recommends the West End. The downtown core may be more suited to those who enjoy immediate access to an active scene with amenities. 

“If you really enjoy restaurants and access to transit, Yaletown is a great spot,” Kay advises.  

How Can I Ensure My Condo Maintains Value?

The condition of the building will be a big factor in the future value of a condominium. 

“You’re buying into a building,” Kay notes. “You don’t just own the condo, but the common assets as well.” 

Many condo buildings in Downtown Vancouver are between 20 and 30 years old, which is typically when maintenance schedules become more aggressive. Horror stories circulate regarding strata assessments and massive expenses for condo owners, making caution key. 

“I’m making sure my clients are completely and fully informed,” says Kay. Upkeep expenses are inevitable, but what Kay looks for are buildings that are performing in a comparable range with others of the same age. 

“Buyers should expect maintenance on their property, just like when you own a detached home,” says Kay. “It’s just that in a condo, it’s not just your decision.” 

Of course there are deals to be had for those willing to purchase condos that have deferred maintenance. The important thing is to make an educated decision.

The ability to work from home is a must-have for many people these days, but condos don’t always offer extra rooms that can be converted into offices. Instead look for flexible layouts that allow you to fit in a working space, then tuck it away on evenings and weekends. 

Should I Buy a Parking Space for My Downtown Condo? 

Downtown residents are less reliant on vehicles than other Vancouverites, but many still own vehicles. According to Kay, a parking space can add $50-60K to the price of a Downtown Vancouver condo. Calculations are required to determine whether or not it makes financial sense to invest in one. 

“If you’re only going to be living there for 3-4 years and you’re able to rent a parking space for $150/month, the math doesn’t exceed the value of the stall,” says Kay. “In most buildings you can find someone who will lease out their unused parking stall.”

Is There Potential to Profit from Strata Windups? 

There’s not a lot of available land in Downtown Vancouver, so developers will sometimes buy older buildings in order to repurpose them. These ‘windups’ are more prominent in the West End since the city passed a plan allowing for higher density in the area several years back. 

While the potential to profit from such an arrangement does exist, Kay doesn’t recommend counting your chickens before they hatch. 

“It’s not something you can count on,” he says. “I wouldn’t suggest any of my clients buy something in hopes of getting a windfall from a developer.” 

What is the Future of Downtown Vancouver? 

With the aforementioned combination of scenery, residential, and commercial spaces, Kay expects Downtown Vancouver to continue to thrive. 

“Even though it looks fully built out, I think it’s still a baby compared to what it’s going to be,” he says. “There’s a lot of development happening, and I think you’re going to see a big transformation in older properties.” 

If this is the case, those who purchase condos in the area will not only enjoy a high quality of life, but will be making a strong investment. 

Cited Sources

Personal Communications with Ben Kay

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