In an era where some people will watch YouTube videos of other people unboxing new products, what could be more selfie-worthy than crossing the threshold of your brand new home for the first time? But as exciting as moving in to a new house sounds, there are some downsides, particularly if the property is in a new subdivision or infill housing development in a previously commercial or industrial area.
The Pros of Buying in a Newly-Built Neighbourhood
You’re the designer
Probably the biggest positive aspect of buying a new home, condo, or townhouse for sale in Toronto is that you get to make all the decisions on fixtures and finishes. In some cases, you may even be able to move or reconfigure rooms on the floorplan to customize the space for your needs.
Related Read: Design Studio Tips for New Homes
You may get a discount
Buying in the earliest phases of a new development also usually means purchasing at a discount, and the developer may offer financing at competitive rates. New homes in Ontario are covered under the Tarion Warranty Corporation, which covers you for a variety of cosmetic and structural issues for up to seven years.
The newest building standards
New homes and condos are built to the latest building code standards, meaning they’ll be energy efficient and watertight. Many older homes have little or no insulation, may have structural issues due to water infiltration, or could contain toxic or potentially dangerous materials such as asbestos and knob-and-tube wiring.
A clean slate
Finally, when moving into a new development rather than trying to break into entrenched social networks, you have the opportunity to help start creating a community. After all, everyone else is new to the neighbourhood as well. If you are lucky enough to find yourself surrounded by a group of likeminded, sociable people, you can band together as pioneers in establishing sports leagues, clubs, and other community activities.
The Cons of Moving into a Newly-Built Neighbourhood
It can be lonely
The first time I ever moved was on the last day of school in Grade 6 into a still under construction subdivision in the northeast corner of Scarborough.
Of the occupied houses near ours, there was one kid a couple years older than me and two brothers that were three years younger than me. I spent a lot of time watching TV or biking around on my own that summer, itching for school to start so I could make some new friends. When September did roll around, the new school hadn’t been built yet, so we had to take a 20-minute bus ride to our temporary “school”: a collection of portables installed in another school’s yard.
Construction still underway
That’s a (former) kids’ perspective. For adults, there are other potentially negative considerations. Top of the list is that moving into a brand new subdivision also means you’re moving into a construction site, with all the dust, mud, hammering, and heavy machinery that goes with it. Depending on what stage of the development you move in, you could be facing months or even years before all the grass is laid, saplings are planted, and the construction crews clear out.
Infrastructure and amenities still to come
New developments can also be lacking in local services such as grocery stores and restaurants, and may not yet have a library or community centre.
With condos, the focus is usually on getting buyers into their units as soon as possible. As a result, all those amenities you’ve been dying to use – the gym, party room, and rooftop patio – may not be ready for use until long after you move in.
One caveat with buying condos on spec to save money: sometimes, the condo never gets built. The developer may not sell enough units to fund the construction, or the city may not issue a building permit due to zoning restrictions. You’ll get your deposit back, but you’re back to square one in the home hunt.
Not enough school space
Finally, if you do have kids or are planning on starting a family, you need to be aware of the local school situation. As many condo and townhouse shoppers would have likely noticed, in certain neighbourhoods the Toronto District School Board has started posting notices on construction hoarding warning that the local schools are at or over capacity, so new families may not be able to enrol. If that’s the case, your kids may have to be bussed to another school outside the neighbourhood.