Top 10: Condominium Buying Tips

A condominium is a form of ownership where you own your unit together with common elements that are owned and managed for the benefit of all owners within the condominium. A condominium can be an apartment suite, townhouse or in some instances vacant land. Here are our Top 10 tips for condo buyers:

  1. STATUS CERTIFICATE REVIEW We always make condo offers conditional upon review of this key document and there is a fee associated with this of about $100; it is money well spent. The status certificate is not a single document; it provides for the overall budget and reserve fund of the condo including if there are any legal proceedings or special assessments pending. In addition, it provides the Declaration, By-Laws, insurance, management contract, rules and regulations and minutes of the last annual general meeting. The real purpose of this review is to understand more than just the financial health of the condo but to provide you an outline of rules and regulations that apply to all owners (ex. are pets allowed).
  2. UNDERSTANDING EXCLUSIVE USE AND COMMON AREAS When you purchase a condominium you are purchasing the right to use common areas such as the hallways, amenities and lobby areas. In addition to these common areas, you may either own your parking space by title or have exclusive use. Some condos have a party room and guest suites, which can be booked on a per fee basis to cover any clean up associated with use. Where you park, what storage you have and where your bicycles may go is important for you to know. Who replaces the roof or windows? This question is less common in apartment condominiums where exterior maintenance items are more practically handled by the corporation; however a townhouse condo corporation may or may not take care of exterior items. The details are all outlined within the status certificate.
  3. GET THE FULL TOUR Meet the building manager and be sure you get the full tour of the building from all common areas to details of access for moving day (if it is an apartment condo you will need to pre- book the elevator for moving day).
  4. COMMON WALLS There are various forms of construction of condominiums and each have their pros and cons. With any resale condominium, you see the finished product but what you don’t see is the separation and in particular, the sound separation methods installed to mitigate sound transmission between units. This can include insulation around the pipes, wall separation and floor separation. Make an additional visit during a more active time of day for other owners and ask about sound transmission factors.
  5. RENOVATION PLANS Prudently most condominiums have guidelines with respect to changes to the interior of the condominium unit. This can impact future plans for wall removal or design modifications. If you are contemplating renovations, it is important to understand the restrictions that are in place that may limit your ability to modify your condo unit.
  6. BUILDING INSPECTIONS It is advisable to have a home inspection of the condominium you are purchasing inspected to better understand the condition of your condominium unit.
  7. BUDGETING Condo fees are designed to provide for ongoing maintenance of common areas as well as budgeting for major future expenses like window or roof replacement. A portion of the condo fees pays for insurance, while this will not eliminate the need for additional home owners insurance, it will likely reduce your insurance premium costs. It is important to add condo fees to your budget.
  8. OVERALL ASSESSMENT A condominium is managed by an appointed management company and overseen by a board of directors, whom are unit owners within the condo. The point here is the overall condition of the condominium; maintenance and state of presentation are a reflection of the make up