Couple Buying a Condo

When you buy a Condominium you are actually buying two things:

your individual unit and a share in the condominium corporation that owns and maintains the land and all of the common elements such as elevators, outside grounds, security, parking etc. It is just as important that your condominium corporation is in good condition as your individual unit.

To find out the status of the corporation, you should request a 'Status Certificate' as part of your offer.

When looking at condominiums, you must also consider the building itself. The choice of the building has a big impact on your 'lifestyle'. The 'building lifestyle' is determined by three factors:

  1. Amenities
  2. Location
  3. Mix of Owners

Condo Maintenance Fee

Why do they differ so much between buildings/corporations? In reality operating costs are virtually the same between buildings. What creates the difference is that some buildings include some or all utilities in the maintenance fees while other buildings have the individual owners pay the utilities directly. Secondly each building pays for different amenities such as 24 hr. security guard or none; valet parking; free shuttle bus; swimming pools etc. Finally each corporation is required to set aside a portion of the condo fees for a reserve fund to pay for major repairs in the future. Some corporations may not charge sufficiently for their reserve fund. To compare expenses between buildings, you must add your condo maintenance fees plus utilities you pay direct to get an accurate comparison.

Information on the status of the corporation including current condo maintenance fees is contained in a 'Status Certificate' for that corporation/building. Remember again that you should always request a Status Certificate as a condition of making an offer on a resale condominium property.

What are the advantages of buying a condominium?

Original condominiums were developed as a cheaper form of housing. Instead of having to buy the land and the building, people could own their building/unit and share the land cost.

It then makes private ownership possible in areas where land values would ordinarily make this too expensive i.e. living downtown.

Today people buy condominiums as much for ‘Lifestyle’ as they do for price. Downtown you can buy condos for over one million dollars quite easily.

Condo ownership also eliminates some of the problems of upkeep and maintenance often associated with home ownership, since the cost of maintenance is shared and is usually the responsibility of the Condominium Corporation through its property management (Lifestyle). For older people, condominiums represent an attractive ownership alternative when they spend extended periods away from their property.

Status Certificate

When purchasing a resale condominium unit, you should ensure that your offer is conditional on receiving and reviewing a Status Certificate and the accompanying documents, as required by the Act. The certificate is the resale equivalent of a disclosure statement and you must review all the material that comes with the certificate to ensure that you are satisfied that both the condominium unit and the condominium corporation are suitable for you.

This certificate, for which there is a fee of $100 inclusive of GST, must be delivered within 10 days of the request for it. It discloses whether the owner of the unit you are buying is current in the payment of common expenses as well as a picture of the condominium corporation's financial affairs. It is to be delivered with the documents, which govern the condominium corporation but are not attached. Once the list of agreements is reviewed, you or your lawyer may also wish copies of some or all of them for review. There can be an extra charge for these documents.

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