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CONDO CHICKS
Buzzer
reply 48 vote 3
 

Builder Reputation

As there are so many builders competing with one another in Toronto's pre construction market, as realtors do you consider the quality of the builder's product and success rates of previous condos by the builder before showing clients?
Do builder's incentives for your clients get your clients in the door even if the product may not be exactly what your client is looking for?
It just seems that there is so much competition out there, especially right now. So many projects being launched at such different price points.
26
Canada / New Home Q&A
 
 
 
MATTHEW SLUTSKY
Senior Buzzer
reply 2299 vote 171
 
 
1 BEST REPLY
FYI: We just released a new "Builder Review" feature on BuzzBuzzHome! 

Just go to a builder page, and click "review". Or, you can also click direct from a development page.

Looking forward to seeing your reviews!  
 
 
 
JEREMY SHIFTLER
Buzzer
reply 167 vote 3
 
 
I'm not a realtor but as someone who has a deep vested interest in the market I can say that I personally will always take into consideration the quality of product and success of previous condos by a builder when formulating an opinion on them.
Condos are just another product, and like anything else, will be judged partially by previous products a company has released. Think of an album that a band made - if you didn't like it, would you buy their next one? Or a movie that a director made - if it's no good, will you have reservations about their next outing?
And yes - there is so much product out there now and with more to come! Obviously something is working!
 
 
BRENT WILKER
Buzzer
reply 126 vote 4
 
 
The reputation of the builder and their past work is (IMHO) one of the most important things to consider when purchasing pre construction. If you dig deep enough through online research, there are a lot of builders out there with positive/negative reviews from past projects.
 
 
MATTHEW SLUTSKY
Senior Buzzer
reply 2299 vote 171
 
 
Without a doubt, the builder's reputation is very important. But, it is also important to take online reviews with a grain-of-salt. Very often you hear from a select few frustrated people, rather than the people who love the builders.
Often these frustrations - IMO - are ill-founded, and based on the purchasers own errors when reading their condo documents.
Of importance is also the builders building history.
 
 
BRENT WILKER
Buzzer
reply 126 vote 4
 
 
Matthew said:
Without a doubt, the builder's reputation is very important. But, it is also important to take online reviews with a grain-of-salt. Very often you hear from a select few frustrated people, rather than the people who love the builders.

Often these frustrations - IMO - are ill-founded, and based on the purchasers own errors when reading their condo documents.

Of importance is also the builders building history.


Certainly. It is similar to when you go on Travel websites; you throw out the extremes and look at everything in-between. You can usually tell very easily if the complaint is warranted if they provide details. Spotting trends or patterns in a series of reviews is usually the best way to assess the builder, look for specific things rather than a "Great/Average/Poor" overall review. The overall review is subjective to the person and where they place the most importance, this obviously varies.

Personally I look for if they start construction when they say they will, if they finish in a reasonable time frame from when they promise, how post occupancy issues were handled (less about what they were, and more about how they were dealt with), if there was clear and constant communication from the builder throughout the process, were questions/concerns dealt with in a timely manor, etc.
 
 
MATTHEW SLUTSKY
Senior Buzzer
reply 2299 vote 171
 
 
Brent said:
Certainly. It is similar to when you go on Travel websites; you throw out the extremes and look at everything in-between. You can usually tell very easily if the complaint is warranted if they provide details. Spotting trends or patterns in a series of reviews is usually the best way to assess the builder, look for specific things rather than a "Great/Average/Poor" overall review. The overall review is subjective to the person and where they place the most importance, this obviously varies.

Great point! But, I feel that some people do not know this, and reply too heavily on some of the extremes.... from my personal experience dealing with such questions from purchasers.
Brent said:
Personally I look for if they start construction when they say they will, if they finish in a reasonable time frame from when they promise, how post occupancy issues were handled (less about what they were, and more about how they were dealt with), if there was clear and constant communication from the builder throughout the process, were questions/concerns dealt with in a timely manor, etc.

I never pay too much attention to the start and complete date, as much of that is out of the builders hands when they first start sales.
However, I completely agree about the communication: it must be consistent and honest.
Also, really important, is the quality of the builder. Go to some of the builders previous projects, and take a look at the common areas and speak to some of the original purchasers. What did they think of the construction, and how were deficiencies dealt with.
Helpful tip: In Ontario, check out Tarion's website, and check if there are any infractions on the builder... http://www.tarion.com/Services/builder_search.aspx
 
 
BRENT WILKER
Buzzer
reply 126 vote 4
 
 
I never pay too much attention to the start and complete date, as much of that is out of the builders hands when they first start sales.



Yes and no... There are certainly variables that have the ability to change the start/finish dates, but seldom are these discussed by sales staff. There are times when a project goes to sales before they even have a permit to build, and usually they require X% of the project to be sold etc. These issues are what you have to deal with in this industry and there is nothing wrong with that but you can’t sweep them under the rug. Could you potentially lose a sale if you bring it up and discuss it? Yes. Will you have a happier homeowner who is more likely to recommend you or buy from you again if you set clear expectations and they still decide to move forward? Certainly.

Communication and information disclosure goes a long way.
 
 
LEONARD THE BEE
Buzzer
reply 162 vote 4
 
 
With regards to the importance of a builder reputation, I have buzz'd around our social-media circles and found the following:
Christian Ilumin said:
Huge!!!...and props to @tridel...I am a fan!

Emil Vojkollari said:
It's second next to location. There are many other variables to consider of course.

Evan Sage said:
I think this is the most important thing for the consumer to research. The legal paperwork protects their profits so all you can do is hope that they care about their reputation.

Sources:
www.twitter.com/christianilumin
www.facebook.com/buzzbuzzhome
 
 
LEONARD THE BEE
Buzzer
reply 162 vote 4
 
 
With regards to Tridel being a great builder, @DomenicCalla says:
"They deserve it! One of my favorite builders!"
Source: www.twitter.com/DomenicCalla
 
 
RATEHUB.CA
Buzzer
reply 115 vote 5
 
 
Can anyone recommend reputable builders in the GTA? I don't want to name drop here, but I am not impressed with my current condo. It just opened this year (hint: close to the Osgoode and St. Andrew stations) and it is, frankly, GHETTO! The elevators are breaking down every week, friends in the building have had leaks and problems with appliances, and the building is full of students. I didn't realize parents were paying $1500+ for luxury dorm rooms these days?!
 
 
MOO STASH
BabbleBee
reply 301 vote 21
 
BRENT WILKER
Buzzer
reply 126 vote 4
 
 
2008 JD Powers Toronto High-Rise builders:

Tridel 776
Daniels 694
Monarch 684
Minto 683
Diamante 666
Empire 634
Context 622
Cresford 566

Our company has worked with Cresford and I can personally recommend them. I have stayed in a Tridel building and it was fantastic (Ovation, Mississauga) although it was a massive project and you will get a lot of students and/or families. Sorry I can't help more with specific projects.
 
 
MATTHEW SLUTSKY
Senior Buzzer
reply 2299 vote 171
 
 
Alyssa said:
Can anyone recommend reputable builders in the GTA? I don't want to name drop here, but I am not impressed with my current condo. It just opened this year (hint: close to the Osgoode and St. Andrew stations) and it is, frankly, GHETTO! The elevators are breaking down every week, friends in the building have had leaks and problems with appliances, and the building is full of students. I didn't realize parents were paying $1500+ for luxury dorm rooms these days?!

Alyssa, give it some time! It often takes some time for the building to "settle" when it is first completed.
There are always little kinks and kooks with the building that need to get rectified, and while a lot of the issues are small... they can mount up and drive a new owner/tenant C-R-A-Z-Y.
Elevators always tend to break down. Appliances break. And, the building may feel extremely transient. With time I find that these issues settle.
The bad appliances get replaced. The elevators get fixed. And, the transient people who were testing the area move out and long time tenants move in... and, with time it becomes a home.
The area that you are living in is incredible. In fact, we are now neighbours!
 
 
MICHAEL WINESTONE
Buzzer
reply 52 vote 3
 
 
From what I've seen.....less than 10% of condos built in Toronto are actually "good" buildings. The majority seem to be slabs of brick and concrete thrown up as cheaply as possible. Perfect examples are ALL the buildings in the King/Spadina area. Most were built by Concord Adex and are literally the slums of Toronto (sorry to anyone on the forum that owns there). If you want to experience real dorm living, buy/rent a unit anywhere around there.

Minto seems to have it right for a mainstream builder. Minto Midtown, 1 St Thomas, etc. These are good buildings and made with quality materials and finishes. You pay a premium for it, but why wouldnt you want to for your home.
Tridel has some decent stuff, but still has a few issues with some cheaply put together buildings.

Just my opinion.....as usual. :-)


Michael
 
 
CAROLYN
NewBee
reply 2
 
 
Michael said:
From what I've seen.....less than 10% of condos built in Toronto are actually "good" buildings. The majority seem to be slabs of brick and concrete thrown up as cheaply as possible. Perfect examples are ALL the buildings in the King/Spadina area. Most were built by Concord Adex and are literally the slums of Toronto (sorry to anyone on the forum that owns there). If you want to experience real dorm living, buy/rent a unit anywhere around there.

Minto seems to have it right for a mainstream builder. Minto Midtown, 1 St Thomas, etc. These are good buildings and made with quality materials and finishes. You pay a premium for it, but why wouldnt you want to for your home.
Tridel has some decent stuff, but still has a few issues with some cheaply put together buildings.

Just my opinion.....as usual. :-)


Michael



Thanks for the nod Michael. Minto works very hard at creating good quality, innovative, stylish, green buildings that our residents will appreciate and live happily in. We appreciated the kind words!

Thanks,

Carolyn
Minto Marketing Coordinator
 
 
MICHAEL WINESTONE
Buzzer
reply 52 vote 3
 
 
You're very welcome Carolyn.....and keep up the good work! :-)

People will eventually realize that it's not flashy marketing that matters to a purchaser. It's quality location, quality finishings, high build quality and units that make sense to the urban dweller. Any builder can spend $250,000 (or more) on fancy websites, brochures and sales office. If the product lacks all the important details at the end of the day, the purchaser and future owners are the only ones who suffer.

Ask any owner who bought into the many poor developments (as we've seen on this forum). They'll give you the realistic perspective....

Michael
 
 
LEONARD THE BEE
Buzzer
reply 162 vote 4
 
 
Ohhhhh.... SNAP! @MarkwayNewHomes had the following to say about some downtown Toronto condos, via Twitter:

MarkwayNewHomes said:
"driving along the Gardiner... they all look the same with their green glass. They are ugly. IMO"

Source: www.twitter.com/MarkwayNewHomes
 
 
BRENT WILKER
Buzzer
reply 126 vote 4
 
 
Michael said:
You're very welcome Carolyn.....and keep up the good work! :-)

People will eventually realize that it's not flashy marketing that matters to a purchaser. It's quality location, quality finishings, high build quality and units that make sense to the urban dweller. Any builder can spend $250,000 (or more) on fancy websites, brochures and sales office. If the product lacks all the important details at the end of the day, the purchaser and future owners are the only ones who suffer.

Ask any owner who bought into the many poor developments (as we've seen on this forum). They'll give you the realistic perspective....

Michael


I couldn't agree more. I think part of the problem is that most of the time location is the determining factor, not customer service/homeowner experience. I personally believe that will change as the GenY's take over the marketplace, as we are more likely to pick up and move than previous generations. A quality builder puts as much focus and dedication into a project after it completes as it does in sales & construction.
 
 
MARCO DIFOTI
Senior Buzzer
reply 550 vote 45
 
 
That is very interesting to hear. I think that customer service is nice, but it is not at all a determining factor to me. I want to be in a place that I think will appreciate in value and is built well.
If the builder is poor with communications, then who cares? It is an annoyance, but not a determining factor.
 
 
NHINCOMPOOP
Buzzer
reply 28 vote 3
 
 
A bit off topic perhaps, but if reputation is important, why do so many owners seem opposed to builders getting elected to condo boards? It seems that's the best way for a builder to maintain their after-sales reputation by ensuring the building is run the way it was originally marketed. I understand the concern about conflicts of interest and contracts with suppliers, etc, but is there more to it?
 
 
MICHAEL WINESTONE
Buzzer
reply 52 vote 3
 
 
Marco said:
That is very interesting to hear. I think that customer service is nice, but it is not at all a determining factor to me. I want to be in a place that I think will appreciate in value and is built well.


This has been the main issue with real estate over the past 10 years. What are most condo investors/owners expecting from appreciation?

People think of it as an investment that will fund retirements or help them accumulate investment earnings at a quick pace. It's been proven many times over that an economy can only sustain real estate appreciation at a rate of 4% in order to stay consistant with income and inflation. I hear agents talking about 8-10% per year like it was nothing, and then in the next sentance they talk about Toronto not being overvalued or in a bubble. It doesn't make too much sense. The US is a prime example of not only failures of the financial system, but also a market that averaged 10-15% per year for many years in many major markets and then saw a collapse of 40-50% over a short time.

Let's put it this way....

Imagine buying a pre-construction condo for $300,000.......selling it 2 years later (after completion) for $450,000 (a 50% increase which happens a lot in Toronto with some of the better condos). Sink the profit of lets say $100,000 (factoring in commissions and your initial downpayment) into a new home for your family of $750,000. The market then shifts and has to make up for the unbalanced levels of income debt owed by homeowners, and comes down by a conservative 20% over the next 2 years. Look at that......the $750,000 house you bought is now worth $150,000 less. So, your condo investment was actually at a loss of $50,000 in the LONG term.

Expecting appreciation higher then 4% is unrealistic if we expect growth to remain consistant without major downturns in order to play catch up.

We need to look long term when it comes to real estate investments, just like our parents and grandparents did. Too much percieved "easy money" floating around in real estate these days.

Mike
 
 
LEONARD THE BEE
Buzzer
reply 162 vote 4
 
 
Thanks to Jackie Goodlet, Real Estate Broker/Sales Rep in Durham Region, who says via Twitter:
Jackie Goodlet said:
Bad customer service means the product you are buying is already broken, would you accept a new fridge that doesn't work?

Source: www.twitter.com/JackieGoodlet
 
 
MARCO DIFOTI
Senior Buzzer
reply 550 vote 45
 
 
Hi Michael, thanks for that great and informative write up. However, I think that you may have misinterpreted my comments. The fact is that I own a lot of land and suites across the Golden Horseshoe.
Real estate is not like the stock market. You do not buy and flip real-estate. It is not realistic. Hold. Hold. Hold. Real estate can generate an income, but it is not to be sold in the short term. It is a long term buy and a long term investment. Think 20 years, not 2 years.
My original point is that I prefer to buy in the upcoming areas, not the areas that are are very HOT and probably already over-valued compared to the surrounding areas (in the long term). And, I buy for location and a good building. If the builder has good customer service does not really affect me.
 
 
MICHAEL WINESTONE
Buzzer
reply 52 vote 3
 
 
Marco said:
Hi Michael, thanks for that great and informative write up. However, I think that you may have misinterpreted my comments. The fact is that I own a lot of land and suites across the Golden Horseshoe.

Real estate is not like the stock market. You do not buy and flip real-estate. It is not realistic. Hold. Hold. Hold. Real estate can generate an income, but it is not to be sold in the short term. It is a long term buy and a long term investment. Think 20 years, not 2 years.

My original point is that I prefer to buy in the upcoming areas, not the areas that are are very HOT and probably already over-valued compared to the surrounding areas (in the long term). And, I buy for location and a good building. If the builder has good customer service does not really affect me.



You're right Marco... My apologies. Long term hold is the right idea. People need to follow your lead!! :-)


Mike
 
 
MATTHEW SLUTSKY
Senior Buzzer
reply 2299 vote 171
 
 
Did you know that Tarion gives out yearly awards for "Excellence"?
The winners for 2010 were just announced:
High-Rise Builder Category
(100 High-Rise possessions or more per year)
Domicile – Ottawa (Winner)
The Daniels Corporation – Toronto
Mattamy Homes – Oakville
Options for Homes – Toronto
Tridel – Toronto
Large Volume Builder Category
(100 possessions or more per year)
Pidel Homes – Guelph (Winner)
Brookfield Homes – Markham
Fusion Homes – Guelph
Mattamy Homes – Oakville
Monarch Corporation – Toronto
Medium Volume Builder Category
(21-100 possessions or more per year)
Wrighthaven Homes Limited – Fergus (Winner)
Doug Tarry Ltd. – St. Thomas
Habitat for Humanity Toronto Inc. – Toronto
Morra Homes. – Barrie
Neilcorp Homes. – Almonte
Small Volume Builder Category
(5-20 possessions or more per year)
Cara Custom Homes – Ancaster (Winner)
Fernando Homes Incorporated – Welland
Gordon Tobey Developments – Brighton
Ken Seigel & Sons – Pembroke
Wasko Developments Inc. – London
 
 
BRENT WILKER
Buzzer
reply 126 vote 4
 
 
RateHub said:
Can anyone recommend reputable builders in the GTA? I don't want to name drop here, but I am not impressed with my current condo. It just opened this year (hint: close to the Osgoode and St. Andrew stations) and it is, frankly, GHETTO! The elevators are breaking down every week, friends in the building have had leaks and problems with appliances, and the building is full of students. I didn't realize parents were paying $1500+ for luxury dorm rooms these days?!


I can personally recommend Tricar (London area), Vandyk (Mississauga), Heathwood Homes, and Cresford. I've had the pleasure of working with all of them.
 
 
 
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