Early in my career as a Realtor beginning in the 1980s, condo properties were a much smaller part of the Ottawa real estate market. The popularity of condominiums both apartment style and townhome style has certainly grown and now makes up a substantial part of both the new construction and resale market. Many buyers were simply not familiar with what a condo property was, or how exactly it was different from a traditional house.

Since then, we’ve seen condominium developments spring up across the Ottawa region, ranging in style from townhouses to high-rise apartment buildings. (While many people think that “condos” are always apartments, the term “condominium” actually refers to the form of ownership rather than a style of dwelling).

In the last few years particularly, as prices of traditional residential houses in Ottawa have increased rapidly, we’ve seen more and more first-time buyers opt for a condominium purchase.

When the Ottawa Real Estate Board released sales figures for our region for April of 2022, Board President Penny Torontow noted that the condominium market may actually “be performing slightly better than residential property classes due to the fact that they are the most affordable price point to enter the market and could possibly now be considered the new entry-level property type.”

If you’re planning to buy and are wondering if condo living is right for you, I can share insights and knowledge from more than three decade of assisting condo buyers and sellers.

I have also owned and lived in a condo property and traditional freehold property, and can offer valuable first-hand tips about the pros and cons. While many people love condo living, it isn’t right for everyone, and I can help you understand what’s involved.

To give you a bit of an overview, here are a few reasons many first-time buyers in recent years are choosing a condo unit as their first home:

AFFORDABILITY

The most obvious reason many first-time buyers choose a condo unit. They are typically much more affordable than a traditional detached house.

In the first four months of 2022, the average sale price for a residential-class property in Ottawa was $830,588.

The average sale price of a condominium unit during the same period? $469,603. Keep in mind that is the average sale price. You can also find units that sell for less than that.

This price difference obviously makes it much easier for first-time buyers to put together a down payment.

While you have to add condo fees to your monthly budget (some condo projects have higher fees than others), even with fees added, they still represent savings for many buyers.

The cost difference is a reason that condo units are also a popular choice for many retired couples who have chosen to downsize. Many older buyers sell their large family house, buy a condo unit at half the price or less, and enjoy the access to the extra cash flow.

CENTRAL LOCATIONS AND WALKABILITY

While you will find condo projects across the Ottawa region, including in suburban areas, you will find a large number of them in the downtown area and in neighbourhoods close to services and amenities.

Many buyers decide to purchase in the city core, so that they can walk to work, restaurants, shops and cultural attractions. Some decide to buy something not quite so central but still within a short walk to a transit station for easy and rapid trips to downtown offices.

Many condo owners tell me they love being able to live car-free, and not facing a long commute each day, not just because of the environmental impact but for the substantial financial savings.  With the cost of gasoline, maintenance, insurance and parking fees, living car-free can save thousands of dollars a year.

TURNKEY, NO-MAINTENANCE LIVING

Many condo buyers also love the idea of not having to worry about shoveling snow, painting exteriors, fixing roofs or caring for lawns and gardens.

With condominium ownership, you pay monthly fees, and most exterior maintenance is included as part of those fees. For first-time buyers who have never done this kind of work, and for retirees who have perhaps decided they are tired of it and ready to put their feet up, maintenance-free living is one of the big appeals of condo life.

RESORT-STYLE AMENITIES and SERVICES

Condominium projects vary widely in the amenities they include. Some have swimming pools, party rooms, rooftop terraces, gyms, theatres and pet-wash or car-wash stations. Some have security staff or concierges who can assist with things like receiving packages or deliveries.

In shopping for a condo, you can tailor your search to the kinds of amenities you use. If you think you would be unlikely to use a gym or pool, for example, and don’t want to pay for the maintenance of them, you could opt for buildings that do not include those amenities.

If you are interested in possibly purchasing a condo unit, I’d be happy to meet and chat with you to tell you more. You can read more about me on my site, www.nancybenson.com Feel free to give me a call, at 613-747-4747.