I’ve been listing and selling condominiums since I started my real estate career. After several years of dealing with buyers who are considering a condominium as their next real estate purchase I’ve compiled my 10 Tips Before Buying A Condominium.
- Demographics: The demographics of the condominium development should be one of your primary considerations when purchasing a condominium. The average age of the owners can sometimes set the tone of a building or development. Are they all seniors and are you a young urban professional? If you are looking for a quiet place to retire and the building is full of young professionals and families will you be happy? A condominium is not only your home but your immediate community. Make sure you choose the perfect fit for you where you can be social with your neighbours and enjoy life in your new residence.
- Space: Square footage is important. Generally condominiums use great rooms or open space so that they maximize living space. When you are viewing condominiums be sure to look at wasted square footage that may be consumed in long hallways, extra large laundry rooms and storage rooms. Your total square footage of actual living space may be smaller than you think. Remember to bring a measuring tape and verify measurements to ensure accuracy and that your furniture will fit. And be flexible, sometimes you have to make concessions and maybe your formal dining room set will not be moving into your condominium with you afterall.
- Condo Fees: Buyers are always concerned about the cost of the condo fees and will sometimes make their buying decision based on the monthly condo fee rate. Keep in mind that no two buildings are identical and that the condo fees may include different utilities and services. For example a 900 sq condo may have condo fees of $210/month but not include heat, hot water, or include parking whereas a similar sized condo in the area may have condo fees of $300/month but include heat, hot water, parking and feature a pool and hot tub. Is the extra $90/month worth it to you?
- Parking: Some parking is ‘exclusive use common element’ and some parking is ‘deeded’. If parking and storage is included in your condo you’ll want to know if it is indoor, outdoor, heated, and where it is common element (assigned) or deeded (owned separate). Regardless as to the status of your parking space you’ll want to ensure that you view it prior to writing an offer as the parking space may not be suitable for your vehicle.
- Heating & Air Conditioning: Condominiums in low-mid-high rises generally have gas or oil fired hot water heating which may be included in your condo fees and newer buildings may offer forced hot air heat and air conditioning. Electric heat is generally not included in condo fees and so you’ll need to ensure you budget for it accordingly. Be sure to ask if you have a heat pump or forced hot air heat and air conditioning who pays for the electricity to run the heat pump.
- Construction: I’ve sold wood framed constructed condos, wood framed with concrete over pour and concrete constructed condominiums. While concrete is long lasting and usually quieter than framed construction your condo corporation will have ongoing maintenance to consider. Be sure to ask how the building is constructed and if there are any noise issues.
- Warranty: If you are considering purchasing a pre-built or newly built condominium ask if they offer an in-home warranty and/or a structural warranty. This will give you peace of mind as you reside in the condo should there be a minor issue within your condo, such as a nail pop or sticking door, right up to a major issue such as water penetration. Most reputable builders will be part of a warranty program. If the builder doesn’t warrant what they are selling then you may want to consider that as part of your purchase.
- Occupancy: You will likely find renters in any condominium building throughout the city. Some buildings are heavily rented and owned by investor landlords while others are predominantly owner occupied. In buildings that have a high percentage of investors you may even encounter short term rentals or furnished rentals as part of the mix in your building. Consider the type of building you wish to live in and at minimum inquire as to the mix of owner occupied versus investment ownership. Tenants in a condo building generally treat the property more like owners so you may not notice any difference.
- Documentation: They say the devil is in the details. As part of your offer process in a condominium building be sure to review the by-laws, declaration, condo residents guides/manuals, financial plan or budget, the reserve fund study, minutes of the recent annual general meeting and even board meeting minutes, so you are informed as to how the condo corporation is being operated. If you purchase, your lawyer will obtain an estoppel certificate before closing, which will guarantee no surprises in the monthly condo fee or charges owed by the seller.
- Representation: A licensed real estate agent can sell houses as well as condominiums. However, be sure to ask how familiar they are with buying and selling condominiums. If you are considering purchasing a pre-built condominium or a newly constructed condominium be sure your real estate agent is comfortable negotiating with a developer, understands the agreement of purchase and sale (which is generally provided by the developer and not a standard agreement) and that they will stay with you throughout the construction process which could be months or years.
I’ve been fortunate to work on several condominium projects in Dartmouth, Halifax and Bedford that have included; new construction townhouses, resale townhouse complex, new construction low and mid-rise condominiums. All of the developers I’ve worked with have offered buyers a warranty as part of the purchase and have worked hard to meet construction and closing deadlines to ensure they have happy residents in their development.
If you are considering purchasing a new or existing condominium and would like to learn more please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out my website at www.century21.ca/dale.cameron for more information.
Century 21 Trident Realty Ltd.