Top Ten Overlooked Details


4 minute read

January 9, 2008

The New Year brings about a flurry of “Top Ten” lists in the media as we look back upon the year that was.

I’ve been told that there are so many of these lists, that people’s brains have been unable to digest any new information that is not in short, choppy, easy-to-digest, list form.

So here is a Top Ten List outlining a few small things that people never consider when shopping for a condo…


With each passing day in this business of real estate, I find the consumer to be more informed, and more discerning.

People know what they want and what to look for before they ever step foot in their first condo.

But what about the subtleties that they don’t think about—those little things?  Those seemingly insignificant details that would never enter your mind, until it’s too late?

Thankfully, that is why consumers have Realtors such as myself at their disposal to point out the things they might overlook…

#10: Age of Appliances
It’s just not enough anymore to say “Wow, this condo comes with fridge, stove, dishwasher, washer/dryer!”  This has become par for the course, and as such, consumers need to inspect the appliances in advance, not because they would abort a potential deal, but because it’s better to replace a major appliance before you move in than once you’ve situated yourself in the unit.

#9: Proximity to Garbage Chute
Some might suggest that this is too small a detail to consider, but imagine laying in bed at 11PM or 4AM and hearing the “CRAAAASH” of some inconsiderate neighbor dumping their garbage down the chute at all hours of the night.  It’s loud, trust me!  And when the bins are full, and the garbage backs up, the smell can travel all the way through your front door….if you happen to live in the unit next to the chute, which is a no-no in my mind.

#8: Elevators
Living right NEXT to the elevator is horrible.  Most elevators beep with each passing floor.  And from the unit next to the elevator, you can here these beeps and chimes all day, and all night.  I would surely go mad within a month.  In addition, living next to the elevator means you hear every single person that gets on or off.  Sure, a door separates you and them, but it just doesn’t feel “private.”

#7: Lockers
Most buildings in Toronto have storage lockers in various locations throughout the building, be it in the parking levels, the top floor, or on the living levels themselves.  Think of the convenience of having a storage locker on the 4th floor, when you happen to live on the 4th floor, compared with a locker located in the parking garage.  On the one hand, you can walk to your locker in your slippers and Maple Leaf pajamas, while on the other hand, you have to put on your parka during winter.

#6: Utilities
When renting a condominium, people are always concerned with the utilities and whether or not they are included.  But why do they stop at renting?  I always advise my buyer clients to look first at buildings where the Heat, Hydro, and Central Air are included in monthly maintenance fees.  It’s been argued that “the cost is the same in the end,” but not only do I think it’s always cheaper to have the utilities included, but the peace of mind that comes with not having to worry about water/gas/electricity usage, and not having to pay monthly bills is priceless.

#5: Pets
Most buildings have “pet restrictions,” which is really just legal semantics to allow a building to “no” at any time to any pet, if they were so inclined.  If the guy living next to you decides to breed King Cobras in his living room, you’ll be happy about the restrictions.  But there are, however, buildings where NO pets are allowed.  Quite often, these are for older buildings with older residents, but there are a few buildings in Toronto that just don’t like anything with fur.  Whether you have a pet or not, it’s best to get the straight story on pets beforehand.

#4: Windows
Floor-to-ceiling windows are great, but what if they don’t open?  There are units at Tip Top Lofts where the entire wall is one giant window, but only two square feet contain windows you can actually open.  Fresh air is a right, not a privilege!  Balconies, terraces, and walk-outs are added features, but you should always be able to open a freakin’ window!  As crazy as it sounds, there are buildings where this is made extremely difficult.

#3: Public Parking
As somebody that has a parking space on P3, not a day goes by that I don’t wish I was on P1.  What about those buildings that offer public parking in addition to the private parking for residents?  There are buildings in Toronto where P1, P2, P3 are all for public use, and P4 and below are for the residents.  This just doesn’t seem fair to me.  And it gets tiresome driving around and around and around on your way to what feels like the core of the earth…

#2: Concierge
I can’t believe that in this day and age, some buildings don’t have ANY concierge, let alone a 24-hour concierge.  Consider the words “concierge” and “security guard” to have the same meaning.  Two weeks ago when I arrived at the Toronto airport at 2AM and then arrived at my condo, I realized I didn’t have my key-fob/scan-card to get into the building.  Luckily, I have a 24-hour concierge, and he let me in.  What would I have done without the concierge?  The sidewalk sure was cold that night…

#1: Barbecue’s
As Torontonians, summer BBQ’s are our reward for enduring such harsh winters.  The problem is that so many Toronto condominiums have outlawed barbecue’s!  My brother has an open-air patio of 400 square feet and his condo board still deems it illegal for him to have a BBQ.  But as I told my brother: he should just do what he wants.  That’s the truth of it, as hundreds and thousands of condo owners sneak BBQ’s onto their tiny, covered balconies.  I’m not advocating any illegal actions, I’m just suggesting that you: (a) find out the condo board’s policy on BBQ’s for all the units in the building, (b) investigate how many people are playing by the rules.

Many of these issues may seem minute and insignificant, and in a respect, they are.

I’m not assuming somebody will base their purchase decision on which end of the hall the garbage chute is located, but if you put a bunch of small things together, they add up to something bigger.

When contemplating such a large decision, and overwhelmed with so much to consider, I find that many things fly under the radar, and are never addressed until it’s too late.

Written By David Fleming

David Fleming is the author of Toronto Realty Blog, founded in 2007. He combined his passion for writing and real estate to create a space for honest information and two-way communication in a complex and dynamic market. David is a licensed Broker and the Broker of Record for Bosley – Toronto Realty Group

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