Buying a Condo? Don’t Forget to Ask These Questions!

Real Estate Tips, Resources | August 11, 2021 | written by Corbin Chivers

Many people are choosing to buy condos or townhouses instead of detached homes. The lower price makes purchasing a condo as your first home a popular option for new buyers. Condos also offer many benefits for those who want the flexibility and convenience of apartment living with the security of owning their own property. However, there are some things to consider before signing on the dotted line. That’s where we can help!


What do the maintenance / strata fees cover? 

Maintenance fees are paid monthly and can cover a variety of things in and around your building including landscaping, amenities, or even a concierge. Understanding what is covered, and more importantly what is still the responsibility of the unit owners, is super important for any condo owners. Things such as gas or heating may be covered in your monthly maintenance fees, which means you have fewer bills to worry about on your own. 



How much is in the contingency reserve fund? 

Think of the contingency reserve fund (CRF) as your building’s savings account. Big building projects can be very costly, and may require payments out of pocket if the CRF cannot cover something urgent. In general, a higher CRF = a well run strata = lower likelihood of special levies to be paid by owners.


What are the strata bylaws?

Bylaws can (and do) differ from building to building. The last thing a new condo owner wants to discover after moving in is that they can’t use their brand new BBQ on their balcony, or that their dinner party guests have to leave at a certain time or that you can’t bring Rover with you to your new home. Reviewing a strata’s bylaws ahead of time may make your decision very easy when narrowing down potential buildings as a buyer. 


Do we have access to any amenities? 

Pools, games centres, weight rooms and hot tubs are great! But the maintenance required to keep these amenities running smoothly generally means higher fees to owners. If you don’t know how to swim and are a regular at the gym down the street, it may not be a benefit at all to be in a building with some of these extra amenities. 



Who manages the property?

While the strata are responsible for much of the decision making in most instances, property managers play a very important role. They guide the strata on these decisions and help manage things behind the scenes that a strata council of owners may not be able to do effectively on their own. As we mentioned before, a solid strata likely means a lowered risk for special levies, so knowing the management structure before buying a condo could save you big bucks down the road!

With a little bit of extra knowledge, the risks of shopping for a condo can be lowered. And for many new homebuyers, it can make all the difference!

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