If you want to buy a condo in an existing building, it is wise to do the following:
1. Find out who is on the board of directors of the condominium corporation and speak to them about the pros and cons of the building.
2. Speak to other owners to get their impressions of living there.
3. Speak with the owners of the units adjacent to, above and below the unit you are interested in buying. Ask about noise transmission between walls and floors. Are there pets that may be noisy?
4. Review the minutes of the board meetings and annual general meetings for the past three to five years to see what pressing issues or problems have been addressed recently.
5. Find out the value of the reserve fund and see what expenditures have been made from it over the past five years.
6. Find out how may "special assessments" have been made over the past five years, why they have been levied and if any are forecase for the near future. (Special assessments most often are used for large-scale re-painting efforts, roofing, parking-lot and underground garage repairs, a heating system upgrade or elevator replacement.)
7. Compare the monthly maintenance fees you will pay with those in other buildings with similar characteristics to see if they are in line and comparable.
8. Obtain a condominium certificate, which sets forth the financial status of the condo corporation and the reserve fund, outlines the financial responsibilities of the individual owner and the condo corporation and confirms that the seller of the unit you want to buy has no unresolved issues with the corporation. Your lawyer will ask for this certificate.