Buying a condo in Calgary can be a great way to get out of renting and start building equity or a good option for those who are looking to downsize their home. Like any home, there are pros and cons to condo living but the process does differ from buying a house. So if you’re considering condo living here are six questions you should always ask before buying a condo.
Does condo living fit your lifestyle?
Condos are great for people who love to get out and about and don’t spend a lot of time at home or those who want to spend less time and money on maintenance. If you’re looking for a private yard to host large get-togethers or love a good renovation a condo might not be ideal. This is also a good time to consider the area and nearby amenities in the neighbourhood. Think about your lifestyle—both now and in a few years—and make sure a condo is the right fit.
Are the condo finances in order?
One cost that comes with condos that you won’t get with a house is condo fees. Condo associations fees are calculated based on how many units there are, what it costs to maintain the property, both short and long-term, whether or not the community is professionally or self-managed, and funds set aside for litigation and major repairs.
Newer condos require less maintenance and may have lower fees but those fees will go up with the age of the unit. Another consideration is to find out the delinquency rates on monthly dues. When other owners fail to pay their monthly dues this often leaves everyone else responsible. A good community will have a delinquency rate of 15% or less.
Is there a good/healthy reserve fund?
A reserve fund is built from a portion of the condo fees that are set aside to help cover major repairs when they come up. The older the condo complex, the greater the amount that should be in the reserve.
If a condo association doesn't have enough money in its reserves when a big repair comes up, such as the replacement of an ageing roof, there will most likely be a hike in monthly fees or a one-time special assessment to cover the costs. This is also a good time to find out if the unit has any current special assessments or major repairs needed in the near future.
Are the condo fees worth it?
So you’ve reviewed the condo associations finances and everything looks good on that end but are the things included in the fees things that you want or need? Not only should you make sure you can truly afford this extra payment but that you understand what you’re getting for this payment.
Can you live by the rules?
Does this community allow pets? Can you rent out your unit if you need to? Every condo association has rules. While some associations’ rules may provide most of the liberties of owning a stand-alone residence, others can be restrictive or even downright bizarre. Every association has a different set of rules, but examples of common ones you might find include no dogs, no window air conditioners, no kids, or outdoor decorations. Make sure you go over the community rules line by line and ensure the condo doesn’t have any rules that you simply can’t live with.
What are the biggest complaints?
Get your hands on the minutes from the last few meetings, the annual general meeting (AGM) or talk to current owners. This will give you an idea of the complaints people are airing and give you some insight into how quickly and effectively the condo is maintained, how the condo board and residents interact and even the people who live within the community.
Like any property purchase, there are many things to take into consideration when buying a condo. That’s why it’s important to go in knowing what to look for and what questions to ask. If you’d like more hands-on help with your condo search or purchase the Elite Home team is happy to help. Get in touch with one of our experienced and reliable Calgary realtors today.