Here are a few things to keep in mind if this is your first time buying a condominium.
So it’s your first time buying a condo, and you’re wondering where to start. Before you even begin, possibly the most important thing is understanding how buying a condo is different from buying a house. While several aspects of the process may seem very familiar, living in a condominium differs in several ways. And if you haven’t done this before, we’re here to help prepare you for what to expect.
The primary distinction that sets condominiums apart from single-family houses is in ownership. Whereas if you own a house, the entire property is yours to live in and alter, condos are partially shared spaces. Several condo units exist in one building, and while you will have exclusive ownership of the interior space of your dwelling unit, you will be sharing the rest of the building with other condo owners in it. This space includes common facilities like the central lobby, any outer areas, and even the walls, fences, or other building parts.
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While some people may have mixed feelings about this shared experience, it has several advantages. Any repairs required in the shared building or the grounds are catered to by the Association. This means that the Association handles expenses that you would typically have to bear yourself if you were in a single-family house on behalf of the condo owners.
This shared experience also provides a sense of community and neighbourhood within the building that many people prefer over house living. While you can remodel a single-family house at will, condo owners have to abide by what is known as the "Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions" (CCRs). The CCRs spell out the extent to which condo owners have control and which restrictions they have to abide by.
This is not to say that single-family houses or the neighbourhoods within which they exist do not have any Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions, but those tend to be much more lenient. For this reason, it is essential to review the CCRs, and any other bylaws and rules, carefully when buying the condo. Apart from this, make sure to go over the minutes of the last few meetings regarding the condo so you're aware of any issues that may be under discussion. Also, double-check to ensure that the Association is not involved in any litigation or legal battle as this can put things into perspective and give you a better view of the conditions of the building and the Association. Your agent will help you in getting all of these documents for review if you request them. Keep in mind that these documents often tend to be quite complicated, so if need be, ask your real estate attorney or a board member of the Association to help you understand.
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In a condo complex, the maintenance of the building is also shared by the owners of the condos. Buying a new condo gives you membership of the Association, and you are required to pay a fee for maintenance, management, and any insurance that may be in place. Some complexes include utilities like hydro, water, heating, cooling, and garbage disposal in your monthly fee as well, but the specifics of these payments typically vary in each complex. In contrast to this, maintenance of a single-family house is solely up to the owner.
All things considered, while buying a condo for the first time may be a new and unusual experience for some, condo living has so much to offer, and the shared space makes many aspects of busy urban life so much easier and manageable.