Buying a Condo

Condominium living can be very attractive to people who enjoy convenience, security, amenities and a community where some of the obligations of home ownership are reduced. It can also be an affordable alternative to owning a single-family home.
It's important to understand that a condominium is a type of ownership, not a type of housing. An apartment in a low- or high-rise building, a townhouse or a bungalow can all be a condo.

When you buy a condo you are buying a unit and the common elements which may include driveways, landscaping, roofs, windows, heating and cooling systems, elevators and corridors in apartment buildings, and recreational facilities.

As an owner, you get a vote in the condominium association as well as a proportional share in the common expenses. Monthly condominium fees cover the cost of maintaining the common elements. Typically, a portion of the fees goes into a reserve fund for future repairs and replacement.

As a new condominium buyer, you should understand exactly what you are purchasing. Here are some helpful hints:

  • Make sure that the building is covered by a third-party new home warranty. 

  • Check previous condominium projects by the builder. Drive by to see if they are well maintained. Talk with a few owners and find out if there have been any problems.

  • Ask for a detailed description of the unit and common elements such as what is exclusively private property and what is shared? 

  • Ask about the monthly condominium fees as fees may vary from one unit to another. Find out if the utilities are covered by the fees. Ask to see the proposed budget for the condo association to ensure it is a realistic budget for the long term, or could you be facing fee increases soon?

  • Check regulations and bylaws to see if a portion of the units are designated for rental or what the rules pertaining to such things as exterior colour schemes, pets, barbecues are.

  • Keep in mind that condominium fees will be considered when you get qualified for a mortgage. 

  • Have your lawyer check all aspects of your purchase and review the Agreement of Purchase and Sale before you sign it.

  • Find out if there is a cooling-off period for buyers. If there is you can terminate the deal within that period if the statement contains information that you were not aware of before.

When you have purchased your new condo, get involved and stay informed. Consider becoming a member of the association board. This gives you an active role in the ongoing management of the development, and it provides an opportunity to get to know your neighbours.