There are all sorts of factors that may have you considering condo living: freedom from ongoing maintenance, more time for an active lifestyle, better access to amenities and so on.
Whatever your driving force may be, you’ll want to find a condo builder that suits your needs, your wallet, and your lifestyle.
You've narrowed it down to a selection of properties, but how do you know which builder to buy from? We have listed a few things to consider when making your choice.
There’s no better testimonial than that of a current condo owner in the property you’re considering. They’re typically honest in their opinions, and you’ll get a good idea not only of the maintenance and handling of the property, but also the type of people your neighbours will be.
Ask questions about how repairs are handled and if there have been any unresolved issues. Inquire about what’s included in condo fees and whether the residents feel that investment is being used properly. You may get a complaint or two, but overall you should get a clear picture of how happy the current owners are with the property.
And check out online reviews as well - you can find a lot of valuable information there.
A number of problems can arise from owning a condo in a building that isn’t well managed. Do some research on the condo board’s litigation history to find out if there have been any issues in the past.
You’ll also want to look into how they manage reserve funds. These funds are set aside for major repairs to the property, such as roof repairs, structural issues, or exterior refacing. The property should have at least 25% of their gross income set aside for this purpose. Any less and you may find yourself in front of an unexpected bill, and chances are it won’t be a small amount.
Compare the property tax amount to the unit’s resale value as well. If it doesn’t seem the taxes fit the property value, there may be factors driving down the overall resale value of the property.
Investigate any “hidden” costs. Some developers commit to long-term leases to save on initial costs, and these lease amounts are often passed down to the condo owner.
And of course, ask about condo fees, what they include, and determine for yourself whether the fees are fair for what you’re buying. Consider, also, that fees can increase year-to-year and you’ll need to ensure you can afford the increases should they occur.
Many condo buildings have restrictions on the kind of renovations you can make to your unit. If you feel you want to put your own personal touch on your condo, either today or in future, be sure to familiarize yourself with the property’s rules.
It would be frustrating to buy a property and find out later on that you have to keep it as is, and live with something you may not be entirely happy with. You may have found the perfect floorplan now, but in the next few years you might want to make some adjustments.
You may be purchasing a condo that’s brand new, but most owners want to change something in time. It’s best to know in advance what you’ll be permitted to do so you can avoid regret or costly mistakes.
If you are considering buying a condo in a newer community, take a look at what surrounds the building. Is it undeveloped? Could there be potential for changes to zoning? You may buy a condo in a building that overlooks a park, but will that park always be there?
There is always the potential for the surroundings to change over time, with some exceptions like graveyards or major landmarks, but doing a bit of research on the surrounding amenities and any planned construction will help you make an informed decision.
Many homebuyers don’t think about the warranty with a condo since they assume the building is protected, but what about your specific condo unite? Will there be a warranty period in case of faulty installations? How long is the warranty period, and what does it cover?
To make things easier, the Alberta government has a public registry where you can check on the warranty status of a building.
When selecting a unit within a condo building, be sure to take note of the location of air conditioners, ventilation, water heaters, laundry rooms, etc. These utilities can generate noise and heat, which could in turn affect your comfort in your home.
Even if your condo isn’t directly adjacent to these types of equipment, you may want to ask about measures taken to reduce noise and regulate odour and temperature within the building. Energy efficiency is also something to consider if your personal utility costs will be affected by the overall building.
When deciding on the best condo building to invest in for your future, it pays to do your due diligence and ask the difficult questions. Don’t be afraid to involve a lawyer in your decision process. A bit of extra time and research today will help you to find a great new home that you’ll enjoy for years to come.