In many ways, buying a resale condo is similar to buying a house, but there are additional caveats to a condo purchase that buyers should be aware of.
Is condo living for you?
Before you go through with a condo purchase, consider whether condo living fits with your lifestyle. Condos often have rules regarding pets, noise and even drapes and balcony furniture.As such, condo living requires more “give and take” than a house does. Take that into consideration before you go on the hunt for a condo.
The status certificate
When you make an offer on a condo, it should be conditional on a review of the status certificate - a document that includes a lot of critical information about the condo corporation such as:
- BY-LAWS AND RULES - Make sure that you can live with the condo’s rules. If pets aren’t allowed, don’t try to sneak in your puppy. Instead, find another property that is more suitable.
- FINANCIAL RECORDS FOR THE CONDO CORPORATION - The certificate will include the corporation’s most recent budget and the balance of the corporation’s reserve fund. If costly repairs are required in the future, insufficient cash in the reserve fund could require a steep increase in your condo fees or result in a special assessment.
- UTILITIES - Utilities could be included with your condo fees or paid separately. Each unit could have its own hydro and water meters, or there could be one set of meters for the whole building, with everyone sharing the costs equally. You’ll want to know so you can budget accordingly.
- RENTAL STATUS - When owners lease out their units, they are required to notify the condo corporation. The corporation keeps a tally and includes the figure as part of the status certificate. If you want to rent your unit, it may make sense to buy in a condo development that contains many other tenants. On the other hand, if you plan to live in your unit, a place where most owners live in their condo may give you the kind of community you desire.
- PARKING DETAILS - Your unit may include a parking space but it’s important to understand whether you will own the parking space yourself, or whether it’s a common element owned by the condo corporation.
Ultimately when you buy into a condo, you are also choosing your community. It’s a big commitment, so take the time to find a place that suits your personal needs. Don’t overlook potential issues in the rush to purchase a property.
For more information about buying a condo, check out the Ministry of Consumer Services’ Condo Guide.