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Hot Halifax Condo Market

Written by Posted On Tuesday, 31 August 1999 00:00

1999 has been a good year for condominium sales in Canada and particularly in Halifax, Nova Scotia, which is having a record year. Even in the midst of a booming market, location still reigns when it comes to getting top dollar. However, strong demand for condominiums did allow one Halifax condominium owner to compensate for a soft location and still get her price.

"One has to be careful. The units are only worth a certain amount," said Ms. C., a trust accountant with the Public Trustee of Nova Scotia who spent between CDN$7,000 and CDN$8,000 renovating her three-bedroom condominium townhome in a Halifax complex where units traditionally sell under $100,000.

Ms. C. says she decided to go beyond preparing for resale to satisfy her own tastes and enjoy her home. She upgraded everything in her three-level end unit, even changing all the doors and light fixtures, adding a built-in dishwasher, installing central vacuum and fencing the yard. "My unit was build in the 70s. I went through every room and brought everything up to the present. I probably spend more than I should have."

Similarities between condominium units, models and complexes simplify comparison shopping in most Canadian communities. Buildings and units cannot be moved so location of the complex and positioning of the unit establish a baseline value. In a condominium complex, standardization of unit size and model layout make average square-foot prices popular value measures.

Across Canada, each condominium buyer develops his or her own "What will I pay for?" checklist. Unconsciously, buyers apply a basic economic principle—the principle of substitution. Buyers will not pay more for one condominium unit when they can substitute the purchase of an equivalent but lower-priced unit. Why spend more when you don't have to?

Another Canadian trend dictates that units with neutral upgrades tend to show well and sell more quickly. They may bring a higher sale price than similar units but recouping all renovation costs, especially customized changes, is difficult. One caution for owners is true wherever they live in Canada -- condominium owners should decide, before they start spending, whether they are renovating for resale or for their personal enjoyment.

"When I bought it, I knew I had to upgrade the kitchen and the family room," said Ms. C who knows how important it is for owners to research the competition. "Anytime there was an open house around here, I looked. I knew what it needed to bring it up to date and make it pretty."

Ms. C.'s efforts brought her an anxious buyer when other units at that location were not selling. She did not recoup all her money, as she predicted, but her Realtor reports she was very pleased with the results and got top dollar for the location.

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