4 tips for buying a condo site unseen

By Estelle on January 14th, 2019

There are a few situations that prospective condo buyers might find themselves in if they’re on the hunt for a new unit. Whether it’s for investment or residential purposes, you might come across a purchase opportunity where you want to put down an offer, but you’re unable to view the unit beforehand. 

Why put in an offer?

Prospective condo buyers might be interested in purchasing an unseen pre-construction unit that is in the process of being built, or a foreign buyer may only have a few photos and concepts to consider before moving cities.

Further, waves of international students are always scoping out online rental sites in hopes of securing housing before they land for the start of each new semester.

Below, we’ll provide four tips to make an unseen condo purchase a bit easier in case you don’t know where to start.

Remember why you’re purchasing the unit

To start and end, you should always be thinking about why you need this unit in the first place, and if that reasoning justifies placing an offer without viewing the unit first.

If you’re a seasoned real estate investor, you probably have the experience necessary to buy into a promising project or condo site blindfolded, but newcomers may be a bit more cautious. A new investor might not see the resale potential of a balcony, but a seasoned pro would know that a balcony makes a unit more attractive and easier to rent at a premium price point

Proximity to your needs

If you’re purchasing the unit for yourself or members of your family, you’re going to want to focus on the condo’s location. Is it close to everyone’s workplace? How far are the transit lines and/or schools?

Picking a desirable unit means you’ll be able to sell it quickly should you want to move out later, and its value will appreciate faster.

The location will also likely determine what kind of tenants you attract to a rental property. You can be sure a condo near a university campus will see nearly exclusive student interest, and thus a high turnover and demand, while a sleepier location off the beaten path might attract mature, long-term tenants with cars.

Location in building

If you can’t see the unit you’re interested in, visualize it. Understand which direction your unit faces, what floor it’s on, the surrounding neighbourhood and how close you may be to noise.

These are important details that can impact how light shines through your unit, how loud your unit might be, and how easy or hard it will be to access amenities.

Décor and layout description

Finally, you’re going to want to look over unit mock-ups or any available pictures if you’re unable to physically view the space. Get a feel for the décor and interior design by looking at the lobby and other comparable units.

Look for any upgrades made by previous owners as they will likely inflate the price and/or be costly to remove or replace. Note square footage and try to visualize how much bigger or smaller the unit may be compared to where you’re living now.

If it’s a resale unit, photos will be essential, helping you decide whether to make and offer on the place or wait for another opportunity. Pre-construction units tend to have lengthy descriptions of floorplans, finishes, structural details, amenities and the like. You may also be able to customize the unit to your own taste if you begin the purchasing process on time.