How To Prepare for Condo Living

Moving Boxes into Condo

The transition that occurs when moving from a single family home, or even another condominium, can seem daunting, or even overwhelming. With so many rules and regulations, there is no quick and easy way to find the answers.

In the early 90’s, fewer than 4% of owner households were condo owners. Fast forward to 2006, and this number has almost tripled to 11%.

At the mid-way point of 2015, that number is approaching 15%. This translates into over one million Canadian households own a condominium.  Just in Toronto alone, this works out to six out of every ten new homes being condos.

With such a growing demand, and cranes popping up on every corner, is it the right time to buy. Where is the right place?

If you have never lived in a “vertical village”, test the waters first. Renting a condo, especially in the building you are thinking of calling home, allows you to check out the building and the neighbourhood before committing.

Hire a good lawyer. Having someone review the condo documents, status certificate, reserve fund, budget, etc., will give you a world of information before signing on the dotted line. Things like upcoming budget shortfalls, special assessments, and ongoing legal issues must be clearly defined in these documents, no surprises are possible.

Take your time and tour the entire building. If things look wrong, they will typically be the tip of the iceberg. Ask to see all the common elements of the building and ensure to come back at different times of the day, and even different days of the week.

Sit and listen. Hang out in the front lobby and catch up on your e-mail, while the residents come and go. You’ll be amazed what you will hear, as well as getting a sense of your future neighbours.

If the building is not new, be sure you are comfortable with the state of repairs. As things age, more items tend to break down and are in need of replacement. This could lead to a special assessment if the reserve fund is not adequately funded.

Lastly, know your building. Is this an investment which is being used by a home owner, or by an investor who is renting it out? You should be comfortable with who will be sharing your new home.

Get all the facts and be prepared before signing on the dotted line.