5 Things to Consider Before Buying a Condo

You’ve finally found your dream condo. You’re ready to sit back, relax, and take in the new ambiance of your new home. Suddenly, you begin running facts, numbers, and risks through your head. Will you be able to afford the condo? How long will it take you to pay off a loan? Are you responsible for fees, rules, and costly repairs?

Before you spend all of your well-earned money on a condo, here are five major things to consider:

The Budget

Can you afford it? Although condos are more affordable than houses and more practical for first time buyers, that doesn’t necessarily mean a condo is in your budget. Before you settle down and sign the lease, be aware of property and management fees: how much will you be charged for regular maintenance and repair?

Another thing to consider when budgeting is the amenities you’ll get. Will your monthly fees, if you have any, cover window washing, a health centre, a doorman, or a pool? Be sure to ask the about fees and benefits before you sign a lease.

Before making a final decision, contact the property manager to ask whether the condo is willing to negotiate certain fees. If you think you are in a good financial position to make loan payments, contact your insurance agent to discuss affordable rates and other insurance options. Knowing all of these issues in depth helps determine whether purchasing a condo is a sound financial decision.

The Rules & Regulations

Most condominium communities come with a set of rules and regulations. While some condos allow pets, others don’t. Some condos even go so far as to dictate what type of mailbox, doormat, shutters, and flowers you can have. Knowing the rules beforehand can save you a lot of time, hassle, and frustration with property management.

Another issue people don’t often think about before moving into a condo is parking. Is it reserved? Is it covered parking? Are you allowed to have visitors park in free spaces? It may seem like a small dilemma, but neighbourly tension due to parking isn’t something you want to worry about.

One of the most difficult to manage rules for condo owners is quiet hours. If you are a party animal, your neighbours will complain. On the flip side, if you are an “early to bed early to rise” type of person, you won’t be happy when your neighbours create a late-night ruckus. Be familiar with quiet hours and know how strict your complex is with regulations.

The Minutes

Most condo boards keep minutes during meetings. With their notes, you can find out what your neighbours are complaining about, what is important to your community, and how good management is at upkeep and repairs. Minutes allow you to get the inside scoop on what is happening in your new community.

Although keeping board meeting minutes is required at some condominium board meetings, it’s not always required to release minutes to the public. If you can’t gain access to the minutes, contact neighbours and residents to get the inside scoop. If they are upset, you might want to avoid moving into that community.

The Inspections

Some condominium managers perform condo inspections every three to five years. Before buying your condo, request a copy of any previous inspection to see what went wrong and how it was dealt with. Were the previous owners smokers? Did they have pets? How often were repairs needed? Past condo inspections will help you gauge just how much work your condo may require and whether or not you want to deal with it.

The Feel

If there’s no place like home, you better make sure your condo fits your criteria. Oftentimes, one of the hardest things about living in a condo is the neighbours. Are they friendly? While it’s hard to determine what type of neighbours you’ll have, it would be wise to attend a social condo gathering, board meeting, or neighbourhood get-together before making a decision.

Does your condo offer you the privacy a home would? How close are your neighbours? Can they see in through every window and open door? If you’re moving in with family or friends, how much privacy will you have within the comfort of your own home? If your space is too crammed, settling in and finding the perfect place to relax might be a challenge.

Do you have a yard where you can entertain? If you like to invite friends over and have parties pretty often, limited outdoor space might be a major issue when making the final purchasing decision.

Sometimes the smallest touches transform a house into a home—if a garden is allowed in your complex, will you have the space to grow one? Will you be allowed to redo the flooring to add your own personal taste and charm? Knowing beforehand how much leeway you’ll have to create the right feel and ambiance in your new condo is essential.

Good Luck!

We know how important finding the right condo for you and your family is. For more financial and lifestyle advice, check back on our site for regular blog updates.

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