Buying a condominium combines the best of urban living with all the amenities of city living. If you’re in the market for a condo, here are some tips before you buy as there are some differences between buying a condo and a traditional home purchase:
The 10-day rule: According to the Condominium Act 1998 when you buy a condo from a builder, you can cancel the purchase within 10 days should you change your mind. However, if you're buying a resale unit, there is no such 10-day recourse.
The 10-day cooling off period for new condo buyers begins just as soon as you receive the copy of what's called the signed purchase and sale agreement, or the disclosure statement (whichever comes later). If there’s any change to the disclosure statement, you can cancel the sales agreement within 10 days too. If you do cancel, the builder must promptly return any deposit plus interest.
Rules and bylaws: Unlike home ownership, condos are self-governing communities with rules and bylaws. Not only do you own your own unit, you share in the maintenance of the common elements such as hallways, elevators, fitness facilities and grounds.
The disclosure statement is a registered description all of the details of the ownership, whether the condo is freehold or leasehold, its amenities, bylaws and budget. You should review these disclosure documents with your lawyer.
With a resale condo comes a status certificate, which shows whether the current owner is up-to-date in paying his or her monthly fees and details of the financial status of the condo corporation, including its current budget, most recent audited financial statement, reserve fund balance and any special assessments in place or planned. Consult with a lawyer when reviewing this information.
In an established condo, ask the existing tenants about the board of directors and its management. Are they responsive to issues and responsible with money?
In resale condos, it's also worth asking what percentages of the units have non-resident owners. In Toronto, for example, anywhere from 45 to 70 per cent of residents are tenants. And condos with high levels of tenancy generally experience many more problems related to noise, pets, cleanliness and parking. It may be harder to sell your own unit down the road if attentiveness isn’t given to these issues.
For more valuable information about buying a condo, log on to the dedicated Ministry of Consumer Affairs website: www.sse.gov.on.ca/mcs/en/Pages/Condos.aspx.