Condo Buyers Guide


Should I Buy a Condo? 

As single family home prices have risen, many consumers have been looking to condominiums as an alternative. First time buyers like the lower prices, which makes entry into the real estate ownership market easier. Seniors like the low maintenance aspect and the ability to be in a community catering to their lifestyle. Others like the security advantages that the building provides, especially for those who travel frequently.

 

Condo Concept

When you purchase a condominium, you purchase and have title to your individual unit in a multi-unit property, and share in the ownership of the land and other common property with all the other unit owners.  The type of common property varies depending on the type of condominium - high rise or townhouse for example - and would include hallways, elevators, heating system, parking structures, landscaped areas, recreation areas etc.

A condominium is a specific form of ownership and does not describe a type of building.

One of the great advantages to owning a condominium is that in most cases, it is owner-occupied and owner run.  Owners ensure their investment is maintained and regard improvements as an investment which increases the value of their individual unit.

 

Advantages and Disadvantages of Owning a Condo

If a winter holiday is part of your lifestyle, you can leave with your mind at ease, without the worry of a driveway to clear. In the summer the grass will be cut, you won't have any exterior painting projects or fence repairs to look after.

Condo projects are now part of most communities which means being able to stay in the same location where you were a homeowner.  Some condo projects are more successful than others in terms of capital appreciation and length of time to sell. Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of condo ownership:

Advantages 

Disadvantages

 

Common Element Fees 

As a unit owner you will be responsible for your share of expenses known as common element fees or common expenses. These are set out in the condo declaration. It describes what expenses are to be shared and in what proportion. This can be equal or unequal in cases where they are based on the comparative size of the units.

The exterior and common area maintenance of your condo is covered by your common element fee. The fees are usually paid monthly in accordance with the budgeted expenses. Of course if your condo has more amenities such as a swimming pool, on-site security personnel etc. your fees will reflect the extra services.

 

Reserve Fund 

Reserve or contingency funds are set up by the condominium corporation to cover major or unexpected expenses. The developer of a new condominium usually sets up a fund which is then turned over to the condo corp. The fund becomes an asset of the corporation and each year the unit owners decide on what the level should be. The individual owner does not have any rights to the Reserve Fund.

 

Questions You Should Ask When Buying a Condo

Pricing

 

Condo Security

Common Elements and Facilities

Parking and Storage Facilities

Quality of Construction

Design and Layout

Owner Occupied vs. Tenants

Management/Appearance

Restrictions

Ask your RE/MAX agent for the complete set of building rules and regulations. Are there any restrictions you require/don't want - pets, children, age, number of people per suite, carrying on business in a suite? Most condos have a long list of association rules and regulations by which you'll have to agree to abide if you purchase in the building. These rules may limit the number, type, and weight of pets; how many visitors you can have at any one time; how often - and for how long - you can rent out your unit (if at all); when and how you can reserve common facilities like the party room; when you can have work done in your unit; and, what day you can move.

Expenses

New Condominiums