The condo lifestyle: 5 things you should know before you buy
Thinking about buying a condo? Here is what you need to know about living in a condo.
You might have heard that condos are trending. According to Stats Canada, one in eight households live in condos, and it just keeps growing. Developers are moving on the trend too with new condos for sale popping everywhere. Buying a condo seems to be a popular choice in real estate.
Whether you are young or old, single or married, condos have been the choice for those that enjoy one thing: freedom from maintenance issues. No more snow shovelling in the freezing winter is worth it. But there are still a few things to know about the condo lifestyle before you jump into it.
1. You are now part of a corporation
Owning a condo is not just a commitment to your unit. You also buy a share of the common elements. A common element is anything that is not within your unit’s walls. These are parking garages, lobby, recreation centre, elevators, hallways, landscaped grounds and if you are lucky, a pool. And these need to be run and maintained by a condominium corporation.
A condominium corporation refers to the group of owners in the property. The corporation is responsible for representing the owners’ interests and managing operations. And you, as the owner, are responsible for participating in this community.
2. There will be fees to pay
Common elements need to work properly, and for that to happen a common expenses fee will be charged monthly. No fee will be the same. Yours will depend on the size of your unit, the common elements included and the annual budget of the condominium corporation. Every condo has a “savings accounts” or reserve fund that will take care of significant work.
Fees don’t stop there. You should also be aware of special assessment fees. These will be charged every now and then if the budget falls short, which hopefully it does not.
A rule of thumb is to always ask for a status certificate. This document is more than a 5-minute read, but it will give you the big picture of the corporation’s finances, operations, and efficiency. You want your money in good hands, right?
3. The board of directors runs the place
Every corporation needs proper management and governance. That is what a board of directors is for. They will oversee the common elements, maintenance, and rules. Elections take place and owners are selected to be on the board, but they can also hire a condominium manager to fulfill everyday tasks.
The board’s main responsibility is finances. The board will meet on a regular basis to make decisions. But don’t forget that you have a voice in these meetings as part of the corporation.
4. Rules are meant to be followed, not broken.
Unlike a single-family unit, you are not your own boss in a condo. There are legal documents that say what you can and can’t do.
In a condo, there are by-laws and rules to follow. By-laws detail how the board can act and manage the condo. While rules help owners get along with each other. They typically concern the three P’s (people, pets, and parking). All the by-laws and rules can be changed or eliminated by the board of directors, as long as they let you know in advance.
5. You have owner’s rights - and responsibilities
You have the right to enjoy the property you own. But because you are part of a community, responsibilities are also included in the package. The Condominium Act and your condo’s rules and by-laws outline your rights and responsibilities.
Your rights include voting in owner’s meetings and for board members, selling your unit, asking for disability accommodations and more. And let’s not forget responsibilities. Your responsibilities are to follow all the rules, to maintain your unit, pay fees and of course, to let others enjoy their condo.
The condo lifestyle is perfect for those that know what to expect. Consider your needs and finances before condos charm you into buying. The Condominium Authority of Ontario offers more information for those tempted to buy now. And who wouldn’t be?