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- They make upgrades, but TD Canada Trust Condo Poll finds Calgarians are most cost-conscious about intended renovations to their new space -

CALGARY, May 10 /CNW/ - Calgarians are most likely to say their main motivation for buying a condo is that it involves less maintenance (68%). Further, according the 2011 TD Canada Trust Condo Poll, which surveyed Canadians who are thinking of buying or recently bought a condo, Calgarians are the most likely in the country to say that they are buying a condo to downsize in preparation for retirement (24%). For a little luxury in their smaller space, 35% of Calgarians plan to put in upgrades to their condo right away.

"Moving to a smaller, less expensive home can allow pre-retirees some financial freedom to make upgrades and enjoy a bit more luxury," says Jessy Bilodeau, Mobile Mortgage Specialist, TD Canada Trust. "However, it is important not to get carried away with these upgrades, especially for those who are selling their home and downsizing as part of their retirement strategy. You don't want to get carried away and spend all the extra money you earned with the sale of your previous home. Fortunately, our poll suggests that Calgarians understand the importance of sticking to a budget."

In fact, Calgarians are the most cost-conscious with their plans to upgrade. They are the least likely in the country to say that they will spend more than $5,000 on upgrades (61%).

Has the tightening of mortgage rules affected the condo market?

The recent amortization change to 30 years for new mortgages had less of an effect on the intentions of Calgary buyers to buy a condo over another type of home than buyers in other cities. In Calgary, seven-in-ten surveyed said the changes did not impact their decision (versus 57% nationally). However, somewhat alarmingly, the poll found that one-quarter of Calgarians who are planning to buy a condo were not aware of the recent changes to lending rules. "This was a bit surprising to me; Canadians who are planning to purchase a home should be familiar with mortgage rules," says Bilodeau. "It allows them to make informed decisions about the mortgage they choose and the size of their down payment, possibly saving a lot of money in the long run. Anyone who has questions about the rules or wants clarification about their mortgage options, should speak to an expert at the bank. They can walk them through different mortgage options to help find the right solution for them, including a variety of flexible mortgage payment features, which can give them the choice to manage their mortgage payments, which is something they may need in the future."

What about younger buyers in Calgary?

While many are planning to retire in their condo and stay put, almost half (41%) of Calgary respondents expect to live in their condo for three years or less (15%) or four to six years (26%). Nationally, the number planning for a short stay jumps even higher amongst respondents under 35. Nationally, nearly one quarter (22%) of respondents in this age group said they don't plan to spend more than three years in their condo and another 45% plan to move after four to six years.

Younger Canadians seem to view condos as a stepping stone into homeownership, with many planning to move in the not too distant future. But, is this a good strategy?

"It can be tempting to buy a property and start building equity, however if you are only planning to own a condo for a few short years, it could make more financial sense to continue to rent until you can afford a down payment on the home you really want," says Bilodeau. "Before making the decision to buy a condo and sell it in the near future, calculate the costs that you will incur, such as condo fees, parking fees and moving expenses. These costs could outweigh the equity you'll build and receive from the eventual sale."

What do Calgarians say are the most important features in a condo?

Always cost-conscious, Calgarians overwhelmingly named condo fees as the most important feature to look for in a condo (98%). Almost nine-in-ten (86%) Calgarians say they are not willing to pay more than $400 in condo fees monthly. These figures remain consistent with findings from a similar poll conducted by TD Canada Trust in 2010.

Other important features in Calgary were good building security (96%) and available parking (94%).

Nationally, those over 50 are more likely to say attractive interior design is an important consideration (88%), whereas younger respondents were more concerned about being close to public transit (85%) and near theatres, restaurants and shopping (85%).

About the 2011 TD Canada Trust Condo Poll

From March 25 to April 11, results were collected from 806 people in Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary and Montreal, through a custom online survey by Environics Research Group. 201 respondents were surveyed in Calgary. Respondents had either bought a condo in the past 24 months, intend to buy a condo in the next 24 months, or considered a condo when shopping for a home.

About TD Canada Trust

TD Canada Trust offers personal and business banking to more than 11.5 million customers. We provide a wide range of products and services from chequing and savings accounts, to credit cards, mortgages and business banking, to credit protection and travel medical insurance, as well as advice on managing everyday finances. TD Canada Trust makes banking comfortable with award-winning service and convenience through 24/7 mobile, internet, telephone and ATM banking, as well as in over 1,100 branches - most open 8 'til late and many now open Sunday. For more information, please visit: TD Canada Trust is the Canadian retail bank of TD Bank Group, the sixth largest bank in North America.

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