Make the most of your sales office experience!
Barbara Lawlor Sunday, May 06, 2012
As fantastic as it is to have the Internet for condominium shopping these days, nothing beats an in-person visit to the sales offices of the buildings you are considering. Realize that developers devote a great deal of energy and planning into these presentation centres with the goal of centralizing as much information as possible so that visitors can become educated, informed purchasers. Be sure that you take the time to explore fully what the sales office has to offer, and make use of all the resources you can before you decide.
You will see a rendering of the condominium online, but in the presentation centre, you will usually find a scale model of the building or buildings and the immediate surroundings. This will give you a 3D sense of what the community will look like and whether it fits in with your architectural taste. Look at how much landscaping there is and how well the condo relates to the streets below. The model is also a wonderful tool that can help you make your final decision on a suite. Once you zero in on a floorplan, look at where it is located in the building and use the model to get an idea of what your views will be.
Be sure to examine every wall in the centre and read up on the builder’s reputation and background. Find out what the developer has done in the past, and who the architect and designers are for the building you’re looking at. Most sales offices include an amenity map, so you can see exactly what shopping, schools, attractions, restaurants and entertainment venues are in the vicinity. You will also be able to access the list of features and finishes, and usually there are some tile and colour samples on display to give you an idea of the choices.
You will, of course, find a full range of floorplans available for the various designs. If there is anything at all on these floorplans you do not understand, ask the sales representative — THE most valuable resource in the centre. All floorplans conform to certain conventions and include abbreviations. The drawings assume you are looking down at the suite from above. The plan will show the square footage of the suite, and there is a key in the corner that displays where the suite is located in the actual building. It may even tell which floors the design is available on.
Nowadays, we see a lot of potential purchasers coming into the presentation centres with printouts from the web and a list of questions. These are smart shoppers, and sales representatives welcome these savvy visitors. Today’s salespeople have a vast amount of knowledge and are eager to match buyers with just the right suite to accommodate their budgets and needs. Be sure to ask about any special incentives or financial offerings that may be in effect. Many builders, for example, work with financial institutions to offer capped mortgage interest rates.
If the sales environment includes vignettes or a complete model suite, all the better. This is a fabulous way for you to experience firsthand the effect of the design and quality of the construction that will characterize the condominium. Tour the model slowly and be observant. Find out which items in it are standard and which are upgraded. Look at furniture placement and think about your own possessions and how they might fit into the plans you are considering. The most important areas to most buyers are the kitchen and bathrooms, so even vignettes can give you an excellent representation of the possibilities. Jot down decorating ideas, too. These models are appointed by professionals, and you can benefit from their skills at choosing colours and finishes.
By all means, use websites, magazines and newspapers as a source for your initial condo shopping, but remember that nothing beats speaking with a sales representative face to face. Do your homework, come prepared, and make the most of your sales office experience.
Barbara Lawlor is President of Baker Real Estate Incorporated and an in-demand columnist and speaker. A member of the Baker team since 1993, she oversees the marketing and sales of condominium developments in the GTA and overseas. Keep current with The Baker Blog at blog.bakerrealestate.com.