You’re willing to accept the inconveniences that come with living in a co-ownership property and you are now ready to start looking for units. Be careful! Buying a condominium is not the same as buying a house.
Are you looking for a divided or undivided condo unit? A new condo or an older one? These are two contrasting realities. A new condominium will be more modern. You might even be able to look at the blueprints of the unit under construction and offer a few of your own ideas. In addition, maintenance costs will be lower since the building is brand new. Keep in mind, however, that you will have to deal with a promoter. Sometimes, he or she tends to make last-minute changes without advising the future owners. Proceed with caution. Here is a question you should ask: Will you have to pay a monthly housing charge? If you are the Eco-friendly type, new housing is more likely to meet your criteria than older buildings, since the materials used are more current.
Condo units that are already on the market are appealing for several reasons. You will get to see the space where you will be living. You won’t get any unpleasant surprises. Moreover, the condominium community already exists. You will get a good sense of the quality of the surroundings. To find this out, ask the co-owners if they are aware of any structural flaws: any foul odours, loud noises, ventilation problems, etc. Plus, it will give you the opportunity to get acquainted with the others.
Now, get the answers to these questions from the condo manager: the exact size of the unit, the year of construction, the materials used, the condition of the doors and windows, the energy costs, the air quality, the public services nearby and the future projects in the neighbourhood.
Some condo associations manage the building themselves. It may cost less, but this way of operating sometimes gives way to negligence, questionable decisions and internal disputes. Consequently, it adversely affects the maintenance of the building. You will have to ask rigorous questions, like this one: Do the condo association’s lawyer and accountant specialize in condominium law?
Other associations entrust the management of the building to specialized firms. It’s up to you to make sure they are truly qualified.
Living in a condo means abiding by certain rules. Demand clear answers. What are the rules regarding the parking space? What is the policy regarding the use of the recreational space? How is the common space shared among all the co-owners? How about storage? Are the property rights limited to the private area or does it include the common space as well? Do I have the right to appoint a representative to attend the meetings in my place? Can I set up my balcony the way I want? What are the rules regarding pets and barbecues? Are some materials prohibited? What are the monthly fees?
You should find these answers in the co-ownership documents, which you must absolutely consult: financial statements, meeting minutes, maintenance log, certificate of location. Nevertheless, speaking with the condo association members will allow you to interpret the mood, which is difficult to discern on paper.
The building’s status certificate contains the declaration of co-ownership. This document lists the rights and obligations of the co-owners and information regarding the insurance, the reserve funds and even past judgments where the condo association, the board of directors or even a co-owner ever faced a lawsuit.
Does this seem complicated to you? Rest assured. Your real estate broker is there to guide you through all these steps. Some brokers have even gone through specialized training.
The notary is also a good person to refer to when buying a condo.
Additional articles on this subject will appear shortly.