Buying a Condominium: Pros and Cons of Buying in Old Vs. new building

Older condominiums tend to have shared laundry – one of the things you need to be aware of when considering whether to buy old, newer or newest.

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For some homebuyers, it’s all about the laundry.

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“In-suite laundry can be a deal-breaker for some people,” said Stillhaven Real Estate Services’ Kristi Holz.

If a buyer is thinking of a condominium in a newer building, it is no problem. But older buildings probably have common laundry – one of the things to be aware of when considering whether to buy old, newer or newest.


Older condominiums are more affordable, Holz says, at least on paper. “An apartment from the 1970s would be a little bit cheaper than a decent 90s apartment compared to something newer,” she said.

But older condominiums are associated with risks. “If the buyer can afford to get a mortgage for, for example, 700,000 kroner, it can potentially be good to buy a new property; generally there will be no major maintenance costs for 10 years. Whereas, if you’re buying a unit that costs $ 550,000 in a 1970s building, you might want to look at some expensive charges over the next while. So it may depend on how much extra cash people have on hand. “

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Repairs to roofs, elevators, pipes and balconies are usually necessary every 20 years or so. Special assessments and taxes can sometimes run into the five numbers, especially for larger jobs.

Buildings from 2005 onwards will generally not be demolished any time soon. “But something built in 2000, even though it’s newer, is getting closer to needing some of that work.”

One of these projects may be the climate screen. “In the ’80s and’ 90s, we had the leaky condominium crisis,” said Matt Scalena, an agent at Oakwyn Realty Ltd and co-host of the Vancouver Real Estate Podcast.

“So everything after 1996 has been built with rain screen technology. That’s one thing we’re still dealing with. Most of the buildings that had leaks problems have been repaired, but not all. And some have only been partially rain shielded. If “two sides of the building had problems with water penetration, there is a good chance that you will have problems with water penetration in the future. You want to make sure that the exterior has been rain shielded.”

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Maintenance fees – monthly fees for caring for common areas and building a building reserve fund – are generally higher in older buildings.

For investors, brand new units and pre-sale units are often a good choice because they can be easily rented. But the buyer has to pay the five percent sales tax.


In general, older buildings lack facilities that home buyers might prefer, such as a gym or electric car charging station, which most new buildings now include.

“It’s definitely a question people have been asking,” Holz said.

It is possible to retrofit a building for EV chargers, but it is a big project. “It would require 75 percent approval. It can be difficult to get 75 percent to approve something like that if they do not have an electric car themselves.”

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Depending on the location of a building, some facilities, such as a gym, may not be a deal-breaker. “If the building is in a busy area, people can walk down the street and there’s probably a gym,” Holz said.

Older buildings often have storage cabinets for each unit, but newer buildings come with smaller storage cabinets, which are basically bicycle storage cabinets, Holz said.

And then there is laundry, if that can be considered a convenience. “Even for $ 600,000 or $ 700,000, you still can’t get laundry if you want to be in one of the more popular areas, like Mount Pleasant,” she said. “It’s an area with a wealth of older buildings, and many of them do not have laundry.”


If an open kitchen is a must, newer ones may be the way to go. Designers of condominiums before 2000 could not have foreseen the explosion in food exhibitions that have turned many people into chefs who require space for extensive meals and new appliances. Instead, planners yesterday made room for larger living rooms and bedrooms, but held back in other areas. Unless a previous owner has renovated, an older apartment is unlikely to have a spacious modern kitchen.

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A newer apartment can also offer luxury finishes, the latest in technology and appliances. But older condominiums often have larger bedrooms, character details such as beams, vaulted ceilings, fireplaces and larger balconies.


If someone is looking to live in an established neighborhood with a well-defined community identity, it is much more likely that the buyer will find an older apartment. “There are newer condominiums in well-established neighborhoods, like along Davie in the West End, but the fixtures are always sparse,” Scalena said.

“To find decent furniture for newer condominiums, a buyer will have to look to new or thoughtful communities – like the Cambie Corridor or Brentwood. In my experience, these new communities are moving from new and sterile to desirable quite quickly.”

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An example of this, he says, is the Olympic Village. The neighborhood, which has a low vacancy rate and high rental prices in the center, became housing in 2010. Since then, it has become a hub for activity with food trucks and busy terraces on weekends.

“It has a sense of community that did not exist before,” Scalena said.

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