BY MARILYN WILSON, THE OTTAWA CITIZEN June 9, 2014Strictly speaking, curb appeal refers to the impression imparted to a passerby by a property’s exterior. That’s just as true for a house as it is for a condo.
When looking at a new condo, it’s important to assess the impression created by the building’s exterior, which is certain to be an important factor if you eventually sell. If the building’s exterior is completed, the task is relatively easy: Evaluate how its appearance affects you and ask friends for their opinions.
For a yet-to-be-finished building, the task is more difficult. Visit the sales centre and look at the 3D model of the building and the architect’s rendering of the surroundings, keeping in mind that some of what you see may bear only superficial resemblance to the final product.
There’s more to it, though.
What kind of impression is important to you — understated elegance, “wow”, stately, upscale, imposing, modern, the list goes on and on. You want to ensure that the curb appeal of the buildings you’re considering coincides with the impression you want your new condo to create.
Of course, no discussion of curb appeal would be complete without considering location, which may be more critical to a condominium than other types of real estate. Why? Most condos are built in densely populated locations where the first condo development may well attract others.
How will further development affect your curb appeal? Will the addition of newer condo developments diminish the status of your building because they are bigger or more modern, or will they make your building look less important because it’s just one of a crowd? Of course, some locations are simply considered to be “better” than others.
Expanding the definition
Accessibility for you and your guests may also be part of curb appeal.
How convenient is it for your guests to get to and into your condo? Does traffic make access difficult? Is there guest parking? And if there is, is it usually full? Evaluate whether or not the situation is likely to be worse by the time you want to sell because of new construction in the neighbourhood.
A grand entrance
The next most important curb appeal factor is the entry and foyer. If you have only one chance to make a first impression, this is where it’s going to happen.
The main door is an important feature and needs to make a statement. Is there a concierge to create a sense of security? Is the foyer spacious and welcoming? Does the decor create the kind of impression you want to make?
From a resale perspective, is the foyer likely to appear dated when you think of selling? Although most condos have their common areas updated, condo boards often have trouble agreeing on changes. It’s much better if the developer has used a top designer who has created a timeless decor that is less likely to be degraded by a board committee.
It’s pretty common
Common garden areas are an important component of curb appeal. In fact, they may make a major contribution in developments that are built to showcase outdoor views.
Ensure that these areas are consistent with the impression you want your condo to have. If possible, assess the level of upkeep the gardens may require. Are they designed to become more beautiful as the years go by and are they low maintenance?
Other common areas also contribute to our broadly defined curb appeal such as exercise, spa and swimming pool areas. There is a trend to making such areas visible from the exterior, in which case they may have significant impact on true curb appeal.
For resale, consider whether or not these facilities will appear dated to a potential purchaser. State-of-the-art exercise equipment today begins to look dated after a few years and buildings with dated common areas can be much harder to sell.
Common entertainment spaces and even the building’s halls and corridors also combine to create an impression of the building. Remember, you are trying to create a certain impression and that is different for everyone. The impression has implications not only for the time you occupy your condo but also for its resale.
Marilyn Wilson has been selling real estate for more than 24 years and owns Marilyn Wilson Dream Properties Inc. Brokerage, an Exclusive Affiliate of Christie’s International Real Estate. She can be reached through dreamproperties.com.