Millions of homeowners across Canada are happy with the low-maintenance lifestyle associated with condo ownership, and the lower overall cost to purchase their home.
If you’re thinking of buying a condo, it can certainly be a good option, but be aware that there are those who find the ‘governing documents’ of condo ownership too restrictive for their family’s needs.
1. Be sure to know exactly what you will own.
In some parts of Canada, especially in large cities, one in three new homes built is a condominium. Condo living is a popular choice for those who desire a relatively care-free housing option. Regardless of whether you use a realtor, buy direct from the developer, or are shopping on your own as a For Sale By Owner [FSBO], having a full understanding of what exactly you own when you purchase a condominium is imperative. When proceeding with any condo purchase, ensure that the seller is offering complete transparency with respect to monthly maintenance fees, estimated utilites charges (if applicable), etc.
Low maintenance, enhanced security features, and affordability are among the top reasons condos figure as a popular choice in today’s economy. Moreover, condominiums can offer complete communities within a single complex, including a wide range of social, entertainment and recreational activities.
2. But what is a condominium?
Technically, a condominium is a legal system of ownership; it is not a particular type of construction. Condo buildings vary from high-rise residential buildings to townhouse complexes, individual houses, and even low-rise residential units.
Condominiums are also known as “strata complexes” in B.C. or “syndicates of co-ownership” in Quebec.
3. What do I own if I buy a condo?
Buying a condo means you own your specific unit, as well as a share or percentage of the common elements/space outside of your living unit/property. The size of units and percentage of common elements that you can “own” will vary from condo to condo. Each condominium has a specified governing document that clearly states the exact dimensions of the unit you are buying, as well as any and all common areas that are applicable to the purchase of your new home.
There are also areas beyond the described unit known as “exclusive-use common areas”. These can include balconies, parking spaces, storage lockers, driveways, etc. It is important to know if there are any added restrictions on any of your “exclusive-use” areas. For example, you may not be allowed to park a boat or RV in your parking space. There may also be restrictions on what you can have on the balcony, such as barbecues, bicycles, and plants or flowers.
Shared common areas such as hallways, lobbies, green spaces, and recreation areas are simply that: shared common areas. Common areas are governed and maintained by the strata.
So, before you consider if the condo lifestyle is right for you, ask yourself these three questions: know what you are buying, read the documents prior to purchase, and arrive at the best choice for your personal or family’s needs.
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