If you’re thinking of buying a home, condos offer an array of benefits that can be extremely appealing depending on your circumstances and needs. They typically provide a more affordable opportunity to live in popular downtown spots, often come with attractive amenities, and many of the major costs are shared among the residents.
However, as with any shared space, condos are subject to more rules and regulations than a typical freehold property or apartment building. It’s well worth doing your research before buying a condo, and since each is subject to different rules and terms, it’s a good idea to ask a few questions first. Avoid nasty surprises further down the line with these 14 questions.
Where Are the Boundaries of My Unit?
Whether you’re looking for a house or a condo, there are some mistakes that you should definitely try to avoid. But condos do come with an extra set of particularities. It’s important to know exactly where the boundaries for your unit lie, as this generally differs from condo to condo. In some, the boundaries are just the interior areas, others may include exterior walls and the rooftop, while others may also cover the pipes behind the drywall. It’s useful to know your boundaries in order to know whether you’ll need to take care of things like window cleaning and exterior decor or not.
What’s the Difference between a Freehold and a Regular Condo?
It’s good to know the difference, though the exact definition differs from province to province. Generally speaking, when you buy a freehold condo, you own the plot of land and the entire property. With regular condos, you typically own only the interior, with exterior surfaces and plots of land being common elements.
What Do My Condo Fees Cover?
Knowing what your condo fees cover helps you determine whether you’ll need to pay extra for certain services that aren’t covered. Each unit owner is required to pay monthly condo fees, which typically cover maintenance and repairs to the common areas.
What Are My Repair and Maintenance Responsibilities?
You can often determine this by looking at what your condo fees cover, but it’s best to check with the board of directors.
Can I Start a Home Business from My Unit?
Thinking about working from home? Be sure that it’s allowed—certain business practices are sometimes forbidden, often due to noise complaints, so don’t expect to be able to open an engineering workshop! Such limits may also prevent you from using your unit’s address for quieter practices such as consultancy.
How Much Money Is in the Reserve Fund & How Is It Used?
It’s important to ensure that the condo has enough funds to cover major repairs and renewal projects should they come up. Find out what’s in the kitty, what it’s typically used for, and how often it’s dipped into. This can also give you an insight into the state of the building, and whether it needs regular repairs.
What Type of Property Insurance Do I Need?
Insurance for a condo can be tricky to understand, and it’s often best to talk to a specialist. It’s important to ensure that both your private unit and the condo corporation as a whole are insured. Coverage differs from case to case, but in addition to the usual home insurance, you’ll need to make sure you’re covered for shared spaces as well.
Can I Rent Out My Unit?
Many people buy condo units as an investment and rent them out. Normally this is okay, but it’s always best to check in advance that there are no restrictions on renting out your unit. You may also want to check that it’s okay to rent it out short-term, on platforms such as Airbnb.
Are There Any Limitations for Guests?
Check also whether there are limits on how long guests can stay. It depends on your circumstances, and sometimes limits can be useful for avoiding long-term, unwanted guests. However, they can also put a spanner in the works if you do plan on hosting friends and family.
Are Pets Allowed?
Pet owners current and future should make sure that there are no limits on pets. Restrictions may limit certain breeds, sizes and species, so be sure to check that your Irish wolfhound is welcome in advance.
Do I Need to Attend Condo Meetings?
Yep, they’re boring and yes, Gerald from across the way will typically take over with complaints, but it’s generally in your best interest to attend, at least semi-regularly. It’s a chance to have your say. But, if you won’t be able to make them on a regular basis, perhaps because you’re renting out and live elsewhere or you work a conflicting schedule, it’s good to be sure that it isn’t going to be a problem.
What’s the Demographic of the Condo?
Like moving into any property, it’s good to know who your neighbours are. Find out what the demographic is, and whether you will feel comfortable within it.
What Are the Parking Arrangements?
If you’re a car owner, it’s important to know that you’ll have a parking space. It’s also wise to find out about visitor parking.
What Are the Restrictions on My Outdoor Space?
Most condos feature some kind of outdoor space—a yard, a deck or a balcony, for example. Sometimes, however, you’re limited to what you’re allowed to do there. Smoking and even barbecuing can be forbidden. Check also about any noise restrictions and quiet times.