Our intrepid sales centre voyager found
the model suites at Studio on Richmond
most appealing.

The following is a guest post by Kerri-Lynn McAllister, the Community Manager for Ratehub.ca, a site that compares mortgage rates in Canada. Their rate comparisons are also featured alongside all of BuzzBuzzHome’s project listings. Kerri-Lynn is a self-professed condo sales centre virgin who recently went on a pre-construction mission.

Prior to a few days ago, I was a condo sales centre virgin. I had never stepped foot in one, nor did I have any idea what to expect. The Toronto pre-construction market is hot, however, and it was only a matter of time before my curiosity got the best of me.

Along with real estate expert and friend Brian Persaud, I decided to take an informative tour through the hottest of the hot market: Toronto’s Entertainment District. Eight sales centres, lots of questions and inspections, and four hours later, this is what I learned.

On model suites:

1. Make sure the model suite is standard. Although most model suites display standard finishes, it is always good to double check. Some things may have been upgraded (see: ceiling heights!) and others may not be included at all. Also keep in mind that the décor does not come with the unit and whether or not it adds to or takes away from the suite’s attractiveness, it should not affect your decision.

2. The model suite is often the first to sell. The model suite layout is carefully chosen, and as it is the only physical representation of the building to come, it understandably appeals to most buyers. On the flipside, the model suite is not always within reach of the average buyer. That is, the suite is typically a larger, corner unit with the most attractive window and space options.

3. Ceiling heights are often obscured. Since model suites are structures within a larger building (the sales centre), the suites are typically not enclosed. This means you will not get a feel for the difference between an 8 foot ceiling versus a 10 foot ceiling. It sounds like a small variance, but it makes a big impact on how big the unit feels. Kudos to Studio on Richmond for enclosing their model suite!

Studio on Richmond scale model.

4. The quality in finishes varies greatly between buildings at different price points. Of course, it is expected that you should get higher-quality finishes when you pay more for them, but some buildings have much better finishes for incremental increases in cost.

In some model suites, you can even spot worn down finishes, and if they cannot hold up in the sales centre, what does this mean for the years ahead in which you will occupy the unit? It is important that you weigh the cost savings of a less expensive project versus the value of a well-made, durable suite that may hold up better and harvest more resale value.

5. What appeals to an investor may not always appeal to an end-user. As an end-user (someone who intends to buy and live in the condo), you may look for different things than an investor.

Whereas investors can go off the history of the developer — pricing and decision factors that come with experience — a first-time end-user would likely need to see a mock-up of the place they intend to live and evaluate finishes, for instance. Furthermore, an investor would perform a cost-benefit analysis and determine the point where paying extra for upgrades will not generate a resale or rental return.

A touchscreen display at Studio on Richmond.

A few other points:

1. Ask questions. If you’re not familiar with the history of the developer, ask about past projects and even venture to see them if possible. Find out about the brands and materials of the finishes, layouts, prices, and whether parking and HST are included in the listing prices. You’ll never know unless you ask!

2. Check out the scale models. Sales centres are worth visiting if only for the scale models, which are exceptionally detailed and simply very cool. You get a visual blueprint of the floors, amenities and surrounding area, and can imagine yourself immersed with the tiny display figurines chilling by the pool.

Now I’m no expert, but undertaking eight sales centers in four hours at least makes me an informed crash test dummy. Not to mention Brian, who is definitely an expert, was there to guide me along the way. I now know what to expect and what questions to ask, and I hope this will serve to aid other sales centre virgins like me!

Curious about the sales centres Kerri visited during the “Sales Centre Odyssey”? Here’s a list:

And even though Kerri didn’t get a chance to visit these two Toronto developments, we think you should check out the seriously awesome sales centres at Cinema Tower by The Daniels Corporation and The Mercer by Beaverhall Homes and Graywood Developments.

Developments featured in this article

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