Looking to purchase your first condo? Congratulations! This is an incredibly exciting time in your life, but also a time when important decision-making and key investigating is both necessary and encouraged. Here are a few things to consider before buying a condo.
New build (pre-sale) or resale condo? Make sure you are aware of the benefits of both.
New condo pros
You are in charge of selecting the style of suite you are interested in, including choosing interior finishes and colour schemes.
More time to save:
Once you have put down your deposit, this option can allow you more time to build up a percentage of your downpayment in the two to three years while your condo is being built.
Word of advice:
Before you buy, ask if there will be any deferred costs and, based on this answer, make sure you can afford an increase in condo fees.
Resale condo pros
What you see is what you get:
Some people find it difficult to imagine a space from renderings or well-decorated showrooms. With a resale condo, you can walk through a unit and get a feel for the space, there are fewer unknowns. You can see the layout, the view and the shared common spaces.
Get to know the neighbours:
Speak to the neighbours to see if they are happy with the building and get a sense of the community.
Word of advice:
While less expensive, a luxury not afforded when buying a resale condo is the Condominium Act, which grants newly built condo buyers a 10-day period to cancel their purchase. For this reason (and more), it is recommended that those seeking resale condos work with an experienced real estate professional.
Once you’ve made your choice, consider the following:
Ask the necessary questions:
Without the proper questions in your arsenal, you could be faced with some unexpected surprises after you’re settled. The following are questions one should discuss with a lawyer, real estate agent or accountant prior to signing on the dotted line: What are the boundaries of my unit (rooftop, pipes behind drywall)? What are my repair and maintenance responsibilities (heating and cooling, pipe leaks)? Is there money in the condo’s reserve fund? How many rentals or mixed-use units are there? All of your questions should be answered in black and white, with 100% certainty.
Budget for monthly expenses:
With condos, come (sometimes steep) condo fees. What you should do upon expressing interest in a property, is determine how much money you’ll have to pay per month in shared maintenance costs, or monthly homeowners’ association fees. As a general rule, you’ll be paying roughly 30-45 cents per square foot. These expenses can include parking, pool, gym and locker.
Look out for upcoming assessments as well. These are added fees that associations charge to pay for unexpected costs, like emergency repairs, various improvements, and even to cover dues from existing homeowners.
Review the rules:
Are you prepared to live by someone else’s rules—again? As was custom with mom and dad, condos themselves have their own set of rules and restrictions, which are often provided once the contract is signed. These documents outline the rules on everything from how parking spaces are assigned to restrictions on remodeling, pets, décor or overnight guests. Request this document before your purchase to determine if this property suits your lifestyle.