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Don’t ignore concerns about the building, the lifestyle or the way the complex is managed
By Inst. of Chartered Accountants
There are as many reasons for choosing condominium living as there are people who buy them. For some, it’s the location. Others want the amenities condos can offer, like exercise rooms, pools or tennis courts. Then there’s convenience – home ownership without the snow-shovelling, lawn-mowing or upkeep of a private residence.
But whatever the reason – convenience, location or facilities – it’s important to know what you can and cannot expect when you buy a condo … and what constitutes value in today’s real estate market.
Chartered Accountant Alenna Morresi-Emer is chief financial officer with Morrison Financial Services Limited. It’s a Toronto firm that provides CondoCorp Term Financing to condominium corporations who, due to unforeseen expenses, require assistance in repairing or maintaining their common elements. She’s had a great deal of experience assessing the physical and financial health of condos.
Here are Emer’s top seven tips to help ensure your decision to buy that condo is one you won’t regret.
1. Purchase a property that suits your needs and goals. Those will differ, Emer says, depending on whether you plan to live there for five years, 20 years, or to rent it to someone else.
2. Location, location, location. As with any real estate, it’s only as good as the neighbourhood. Is it convenient, safe, close to schools, transportation and services? It’s no bargain if no one wants it.
3. Convenience comes at a price. Condo owners pay monthly fees to maintain common elements, like the underground garages, hallways and lobbies and exercise facilities. There can be “special assessments” too. These are often substantial extra amounts that unit owners must pay for repairs or upgrades should the corporation not have sufficient reserve funds put aside to pay for them. Condominiums are run by an elected board of directors, Emer points out, and this board has the authority to impose such assessments if deemed necessary.
4. Yours, mine and ours. Know where the condo corporation’s financial responsibility ends and yours begins. Who pays for new windows if your unit needs them? If your townhouse has a backyard patio, where does your “exclusive use” end and the community’s begin? Can you build a fence or put in a rock garden?
5. Do your homework. Before a condo can be sold, it must have a “status certificate” that your lawyer can request. It will identify any liens against the property, current legal matters or upcoming increases in condo fees. Ask to see the financial statements. These will tell you if the corporation is financially sound, and if the unit owners are likely to face an increase in monthly maintenance fees or a special assessment. A reserve-fund study, which provides a 30-year projection of estimated repairs to the complex, will also follow the financial statements. Emer suggests you tour the property and speak to actual unit owners, too. Find out what issues they’re dealing with, how they make decisions and who the key players are.
6. Know the rules, and be prepared to abide by them. Condo by-laws will tell you if you can lease out your unit, use a barbeque or install a satellite dish on the outside wall. Even the out-facing colour of your drapes or window coverings is often regulated.
7. Condo life is community life. You’ll have to deal with different types of people, often in close proximity and in many different circumstances. Know what you’re prepared to live with, and for how long.
“Condo living is not for everyone,” Emer says. Don’t ignore concerns about the building, the lifestyle or the way the complex is managed. It’s far better to walk away than invest your money, time and energy in a situation that can bring you years of unhappiness.
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Great Gulf’s newest condominium unveiled
Today, David Gerofsky, President and Chief Operating Officer of the Great Gulf Group of Companies, unveiled the details of One Bloor – Great Gulf’s flagship 65-storey condominium to be located on the southeast corner of Yonge and Bloor Streets in Toronto.
This new address situated at the gateway to Bloor-Yorkville has been designed by a world-renowned team comprised of Hariri Pontarini Architects, Cecconi Simone Inc., and Janet Rosenberg + Associates, landscape architect and urban design, with construction by Tucker Hi-Rise Construction Inc. and sales by Baker Real Estate Incorporated. One Bloor will include 690 suites and a proposed 100,000 sq. ft. of prime retail space along Yonge and Bloor and on the concourse level, plus year-round contemporary amenities that will create an environment that encompasses wellness, fitness and pampering amid the ultimate urban backdrop.
One Bloor will become the landmark for this major intersection, and residents will benefit from direct access to the two subway lines that converge here. “One Bloor will be a significant addition to Toronto’s urban landscape,” David Gerofsky said. “Great Gulf is proud to add this condominium to our portfolio, which includes a roster of multi-award-winning buildings that complement their locations with outstanding architecture. One Bloor takes our mandate for leading-edge design to the next level.”
The One Bloor design team’s shared vision is to offer something different, unique and balanced. According to David Pontarini, Founding Partner, Hariri Pontarini Architects, “Yonge and Bloor is ‘centre ice’ in terms of Canadian real estate. One Bloor respects the urban fabric of the area with its simple silhouette that is sensuously sculpted with piano curves to evoke a warm modernism that is organic and timeless. The curves carve an undulating silhouette in the window glass along the base of the podium.
From there, the residential floors terrace back to soften the impact on the streetscape, and the curves create a continuous visual flow as they rise up the tower. Balconies are configured to maximize views, and suites are infused with natural light from massive windows. Great Gulf has created some of the most striking condominiums in Toronto, and with One Bloor, they have raised the architectural bar once again.”
The organic feeling continues in the Cecconi Simone-created amenities situated on the sixth and seventh floors. Anna Simone, Founding Partner, Cecconi Simone Inc., explained, “What we have achieved is beautiful and spectacular. This one-of-a-kind facility has an intimate relationship with the architecture and landscaping. The spa-like space will engage all the senses through the sights, sounds and smells of nature, and invites residents to reach a state of true relaxation.
Every inch has been carefully thought through and designed so that the person experiencing the environment feels pampered, while reaching a relaxed state of mind. The transition from indoors to outdoors is seamless, and speaks to people’s fantasies and dreams. From the lobby to the common areas and the understated luxury of the suites themselves, this building is true to the five principles of design: scale, proportion, rhythm, harmony and balance.”
One Bloor’s landscaping creates a vibrant synergy that sings with appeal. “This is a building with real heart and soul,” said Janet Rosenberg, Founding Principal, Janet Rosenberg + Associates. “Our landscape plan took inspiration from the sculptural curves and organic lines of the architecture and amenities. On the seventh floor terrace, a body of water weaves through the interior and exterior spaces, connecting both areas physically and rhythmically.”
“We created a vibrant artificial landscape that mimics natural forms. The terrace feels lush and green, complemented with canopy structures for protection from the elements. This, coupled with a curved steel exterior fireplace makes for an environment that residents can enjoy throughout the year. There are few places in Toronto that offer this level of outdoor activity with views of the city.”
“One Bloor is one of the most anticipated residential buildings of the decade, and will offer a fabulous opportunity for the most discerning of purchasers,” said Barbara Lawlor, President, Baker Real Estate Incorporated. “The architecture is incredible, the amenities are extraordinary, the finishes are exquisite, and Great Gulf’s reputation for service and quality is impeccable. And of course, the location is superb. One Bloor is clearly one of the most prestigious addresses in Canada, and we expect an enthusiastic sales response.”
“Buyers will also reap the benefits of topnotch construction technology,” said Michael McGrath, President, Tucker Hi-Rise Construction Inc. “One example is the Building Information Modeling system that uses state-of-the-art 3D software to seamlessly bridge communication among the architectural, engineering and construction disciplines. Beyond that, Tucker Hi-Rise has added a fourth dimension of time and logistics and a fifth dimension of cost, in order to increase productivity and improve quality even more.”
The one-bedroom, one-bedroom + den, two-bedroom, two-bedroom + den designs at One Bloor range in size from 530 to 1,724 sq. ft. and will be priced from $390,000 to over $1,500,000. Monthly maintenance fees are estimated at $0.50 per square foot. First occupancy is slated for December 2014.
Great Gulf is poised to introduce One Bloor, the company’s newest flagship condominium that will raise the bar for outstanding architecture in Toronto.
- Southeast corner of Yonge and Bloor Streets; the gateway to Bloor-Yorkville
- An iconic global address steps from high-fashion boutiques and designer shops, such as Holt Renfrew, Cartier, Prada, Hermes, Gucci, Chanel, and Louis Vuitton
- Walk to the Royal Ontario Museum, hundreds of restaurants, cafés, services and more
- Direct access to both the Bloor and Yonge subway systems
- Designed by Hariri Pontarini Architects, One Bloor will rise to 65 storeys and offer 690 suites
- The neighbourhood will benefit from the proposed 100,000 sq. ft. of prime retail space
- Concourse level shopping will be below grade, and retail in the first two storeys of the podium will front along Yonge and Bloor
- The next levels of the six-storey podium will offer grand residential terraces
- The spa-inspired amenities are situated on the sixth and seventh floors, with spectacular outdoor amenity terraces on the roof of the podium
- Balconies are configured to maximize views, and suites are infused with natural light from massive windows
- 24-hour Concierge Service; Resident Superintendent for on-site maintenance
- Underground parking with security monitored from Concierge station
- Visitor parking for cars and bicycles
- Custom-designed high-speed elevators
- Over 27,000 sq. ft. of Cecconi Simone-designed resort-inspired amenities on the sixth and seventh floors, plus an additional 19,000 sq. ft of outdoor amenity space on the seventh floor by Janet Rosenberg + Associates, landscape architecture and urban design
- The sixth floor includes a large spa area with three treatment rooms, plus separate his and hers cold plunge, hot plunge, jet massage, experience showers, Laconium and Tepidarium steam suites, ice fountain and change rooms. On this level, there are also outdoor terraces, lounges (one a look-out fireplace lounge), a sculpture garden, bar, dining room, caterers’ kitchen, and a billiards room
- The seventh floor amenities area will have two pools: a year-round indoor/outdoor pool and an outdoor pool, beautifully landscaped outdoor terraces with fireplaces, spa/hot tub, foot baths, state-of-the-art fully equipped fitness cardio rooms, kinesis/Pilates room, yoga/spinning room, steam rooms, change rooms, plus carefully crafted relaxation areas
Features and finishes will be available in Silver (floors 8 to 38), Gold (floors 39 to 59) and Platinum (floors 60 to 65)
- One-bedroom, one-bedroom + den, two-bedroom, two-bedroom + den
designs from 530 to 1,727 sq. ft.
- Luxurious Silver appointments include approximately 9-foot ceilings; pre-engineered hardwood flooring throughout; gourmet kitchens with 27″ Blomberg stainless steel fridge, 30″ black ceramic glass cook-top, built-in 30″ stainless steel oven, built-in stainless steel microwave, 30″ slide-out hood fan, Cecconi Simone-designed cabinetry (all drawers with soft close drawer system), pull-out two-bin recycle system, choice of granite or Corian(R) countertop, single-bowl stainless steel under-mount sink with contemporary polished chrome faucet, porcelain tile backsplash, Cecconi Simone-designed island with display niche, prep area in granite or Corian and Corian eating table with an integrated trough for ice, candles or growing herbs; ceiling-mounted track lighting complete with pendants over island (as per plan), stacked brand-name 24″ white washer/dryer; master/main bathrooms with Cecconi Simone custom-designed cabinetry and custom-designed Corian sink with polished chrome wall-mounted faucet; and unique mirrored wall cabinet above vanity; white soaker tub (as per plan); polished chrome accessory package; frameless glass shower enclosure (as per plan); emergency voice communication system, smoke, heat and carbon monoxide detector; future technology-ready high-speed Internet access; rough-in for future suite security; and pre-wired for cable, TV and telephones (as per plan)
- Among the Gold and Platinum added features and finishes are solar screen window coverings in kitchen, dining, living areas (as per plan); blackout screens in master and second bedroom (as per plan); Sub Zero 27″ fully integrated fridge/freezer, Wolf 30″ glass cook-top; Wolf 30″ built-in stainless steel self-clean convection oven; Asko fully-integrated dishwasher with stainless steel interior; Sub Zero 24″ built-in 46-bottle wine fridge with glass door; Sub Zero 24″ built-in fully integrated under-counter bar fridge/freezer; upgraded pre-engineered hardwood flooring throughout, stone/glass backsplash; main bath porcelain floor tiles or choice of marble floor tiles; rough-in for future window covering automation; and Introductory Home Automation System
- Builder-Developer: Great Gulf
- Architects: Hariri Pontarini Architects
- Interior Design: Cecconi Simone Inc.
- Landscaping: Janet Rosenberg + Associates, landscape architecture and urban design
The sales center is scheduled to open in 3 weeks, however I have an exclusive invitation to beat the rush and reserve units for my preferred clients. The day after this pre-sale event prices will go up so if you are interested call me immediately.
I believe that this is an incredible opportunity. Whether you are interested in having a Yorkville address of your own or looking for a solid investment, this is definitely an opportunity to seize.
This is a high profile address – Bloor & Yonge is the heart of Yorkville, with access to the TTC, shopping and the best restaurants in the city.
This unique early access to pre-sale, guarantees that my clients will have advance choice of the most prime units available. I strongly urge you to contact me at your earliest convenience if you are interested, as floor plans and prices will be available soon.
Please feel free to forward this note to your family, friends or colleagues who may also be interested as this is truly a rare opportunity.
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Excerpt from an article by Melinda Mattos – Toronto Star
Condo ownership has proven quite a learning experience for elementary school teacher Naomi Pfeffer. At age 26, she’s already been through the buying process twice â€” first with a boyfriend in Calgary and, more recently, on her own in Toronto.
While dissolving the first mortgage and transferring ownership of the condo to her ex was messy â€” requiring a lawyer’s assistance and feeling suspiciously like a divorce even though they’d never traded vows â€” having bought before came in handy when she started shopping again.
She found a real estate agent online, checked out MLS postings and then took a two-day trip to the city with her mother, viewing a dozen units in 48 hours.Since Pfeffer had attended university in Toronto, she knew the downtown core, but wasn’t familiar with the Lansdowne and Dupont neighbourhood where she’d ultimately buy an 860-square-foot suite in the Chelsea Lofts.
“I had never been that far west, except for Bloor West Village,” she says. “So I thought, ‘If this is sort of in the centre of Bloor West Village and the Annex, which are two of my favourite areas, it’s a great compromise!’”
Pfeffer’s two-bedroom, two-bathroom loft is cheerful and bright, with natural light pouring in from the large windows. It was originally a show suite, so it came with upgrades like black appliances, painted walls, nicer light fixtures and window coverings.”This is the first space that’s my own, top to bottom, from end to end,” she points out. “I didn’t come with that much stuff, so I had to collect and buy â€” and buy and buy.”
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