Did you ever think you would grow up and buy a condominium unit? I am sure there are people who never thought of this. Your condominium is your home. Condominium living has pros and cons. On the positive side, it generally provides maintenance-free living and security. This comes with the price of maintenance fees. On the less positive side, you need to understand that you have close neighbours, you will have to deal with some noise, and you have limitations on what you can change.
The condominium community is its own municipal-type environment. You have a declaration which comes with rules. You have elected officials as your board of directors. You are living in a community within a community. When everyone gets along, it can be utopia. When conflict occurs, it can be a tiresome way to live.
I think it is important that you are informed before you purchase a condominium unit. The following is a list of tips and questions you can use before you purchase:
- Work with a real estate agent who specializes in condominium properties.
- Once you have seen a unit you like, make sure you walk and look around the entire building or property. You are buying into the entire package.
- Ask yourself, “Does the building, buildings, townhouse, and/or property look maintained?” If the grass is not cut, the paint is flaking off, and the general appearance is not great, then this is a clue that maybe the community is struggling with money or not charging enough for maintenance fees.
- Is the condominium professionally managed or self-managed?
- If professionally managed, then talk to the property manager. Ask if there are any planned special assessments or major projects in the upcoming years. If yes, then ask how these will be funded. You do not want to have a surprise with increased maintenance fees.
- If self-managed, talk to one of the board members. Ask the same questions above. Also, ask how the board members get along. In a self-managed situation, you want a board that cooperates and gets things done.
- Order a status certificate (with the help of your real estate agent) and review it with your lawyer who is familiar with purchasing condominium units. The status certificate is your insight into the health and status of the condominium as a whole.
- Make sure you understand what common elements are. As a unit owner you will be responsible for the upkeep of what you own, and the common elements will be the responsibility of the condominium corporation.
- Complete an inspection. Whether you use an engineer or home inspector, make sure they have experience with condominiums. There is more to inspect and understand in terms of the overall community than just your particular unit.
- Get educated! CCI-GR is the place to start. Get informed about condominium life either before you purchase or once you move in.
To new and first-time buyers, the thought of joining a condominium community can sound overwhelming. However, with more exposure and education, many learn and can experience the perks of being a part of a community that takes care of each other and looks out for the best interest of the group.
Once you have found a condominium corporation you are interested in investing in, do your research. Be candid with your real estate agent. Talk to the condominium management company. You may even want to look into attending a few CCI Grand River Chapter events as a non-member to get an inside scoop of what the community really looks like and the resources available to the community.
Follow CCI Grand River Chapter on social media to stay up to date on any event or course that you may be interested in. You never know, you could be a condominium owner someday.
Henry Jansen, P.Eng., ACCI
President, Criterium – Jansen Engineers