What a year it’s been for condo sales. As of the end of July, condo apartments in high-rise and mid-rise buildings and stacked townhomes accounted for almost 80 per cent of the year-to-date sales of new construction homes in the GTA.
Given provincial intensification policy, lack of low-rise housing supply and the resulting price growth in this market, it is not surprising that condos now account for the lion’s share of new home sales in this region, so let’s look at who is buying condos and what they are looking for.
According to a report from BILD member In2ition Realty, condo buyers typically fall into a few key groups, each with its own unique characteristics and distinct priorities for a new home purchase.
One group is first-time buyers, largely Millennials in their twenties and thirties. They are singles or young couples, with or without children. While they are educated and have good jobs, their limited savings mean that price point is an important consideration when shopping for that first home. According to the In2ition report, Millennials consider the usefulness of the amenities when evaluating a condo for purchase, and they are attracted to aesthetics and technology.
The move-up buyers tend to be people in their thirties, forties and fifties. This group includes couples, young families and mature families. They are professionals with healthy savings and built-up equity. When shopping for a new home, they are driven by location, value, size and functionality of layout, the In2ition report says. Storage and parking count, too. Move-up buyers value good design and good quality in materials, finishes and amenities.
The downsizers or empty nesters are people in their fifties, sixties and seventies. They may be professionals or retirees looking to unlock equity. Like the move-up buyers, they value great design, high quality and functionality, but they are also looking for space to entertain, according to the report.
So what features are popular with condo buyers right now? In the kitchen, it’s a full-sized fridge and a kitchen island, says the In2ition report. In the rest of the home, it’s pocket doors, walk-in closets, window coverings, engineered flooring and smooth ceilings. Technology is important, with smart wiring, wireless compatibility and multiple outlets for charging.
Design features that promote sustainability—LED lighting, low-emitting paints, carpet and finishes, and water-efficient faucets, showerheads and toilets—are increasingly popular, the report says, because consumers want to save on utilities, improve their health and comfort and reduce their ecological footprint.
When it comes to amenities, there is a trend toward quality over quantity, the In2ition report shows. Buyers are looking to minimize maintenance fees and therefore are focusing on the utility and design of amenities, rather than their number. Well-equipped gyms, hotel-style lobbies and car-sharing programs are popular amenities at the moment, as well.
With more people at all stages of life buying condos, we are seeing a growing demand for common spaces in developments. For instance, family-friendly spaces like playrooms are very important to people with kids, according to the report. Features like shared workspaces, communal gardens and social hubs that offer all residents more living space are growing in popularity.
Our industry is in the new home business and it is constantly innovating to design and build the features and amenities that home buyers want and value.