Investing in Condominiums: Strategies, Tips and Expert Advice for the Canadian Real Estate Investor by Brian Persaud and Randy Ramadhin

Investing in Condominiums fills a niche as a source of exhaustively detailed information for investors interested in buying pre-construction condos in Canada. It’s also a good book for the condo nerd, and gives an insider’s view on the industry and the different players who buy, assign, and sell condos as the building moves toward completion.

Investing in Condos book by Brian Persaud and Randy Ramadhin

Where the book shines is in the detailed information on what to look for in a pre-construction condo, and the pitfalls that you need to avoid. There are lists and lists of things to watch for, as well as war stories from condo buyers and agents about the many things that can go wrong, and how to avoid them. The book also gives you an insider’s look at the industry, and explains how deals are actually done in the pre-construction stage (not always as advertised).

The information is most helpful for those who are interested in flipping a condo before it’s completed (or soon afterwards), and less so for those who are interested in buying and holding the condo as a long-term rental (there’s some information on buying for the long term, but it’s weaker). That’s not necessarily a shortcoming, insofar as there are many other books that show you how to run the numbers for a rental (like Don Campbell’s books, for example). It does mean, however, that if you’re not looking to simply flip a property, you’ll want to look elsewhere for information on what to look for in a longer-term rental property.

In addition to the more practical information about condos, the book also includes little nuggets of information by thinkers like Jane Jacobs who’ve written extensively about what makes cities livable and vibrant. These nuggets are particularly helpful if you’re trying to buy into an “up-and-coming" neighbourhood, where it’s important to know what factors make a neighbourhood ripe for gentrification, as opposed to what factors keep neighbourhoods down (things like walkability, types of businesses, or even the length of the streets and the resultant number of corner lots in a neighbourhood).

The sheer volume of information, however, can be exhausting if you’re reading the book cover to cover. To their credit, the writers acknowledge this. They end the book with the caveat that while they want to give their readers enough information to know the in’s and out’s of condo developments, they also realize that it’s not possible to learn everything you need to know simply from reading a book — no matter how good or exhaustive the book is.

A better use of the book, they suggest, is not simply to learn about all the different things you need to know in order to be a successful condo investor, but also how to hire the right experts to provide that information to you. I heartily agree. Because in the world of condos, what you don’t know (and especially what you don’t know you don’t know) can mean the difference between a good return on investment and years of costly litigation.

Caroline Sin is a real estate investor and financial planner with Investors Group Financial Services Inc. You can reach her at caroline.sin@investorsgroup.com