Top 5 Things You Need To Know Before You Buy a Condo

John Manneh February 13, 2014

When buying a condo, there are often a great deal of factors and cost that seem to pop up out of nowhere, especially for first time buyers. For areas such as Toronto where the condo market is overwhelming, this can make the process even more difficult. Hopefully this will give you some things to think about during your search to buy a condo, and remember that we are here if you have any questions.
1. Projected Increases In Maintenance Fees
How much are maintenance fees projected to rise over the next few years? The condo board does give you a schedule which will show what maintenance fees are expected to rise over the next 3-5 years. You should expect about a 3 % to 6% increase once a year at the start of the fiscal year.
2.  The Condo’s Reserve Fund. 
Make sure you know if the condo’s reserve fund has a sufficient amount of money ready and available for any upcoming repairs or replacements. When a building gets older (7-10 years old) there are major repairs that take place such as:
– Parking garage repairs,
– Balcony restoration
– Pool repairs
– Elevator fixes
You need to know that theres been enough money budgeted for these items. Otherwise, you are likely to face special assessments, or maintenance fees might increase at a higher rate than what you would hope for.
3. Condo Management
Make sure you know how well managed the building is and who the property manager is. The management of a building comes down to the board which is made up of owners of the building.  It is always good to have some insights into how well run that is. The property manager is also very important. We know most of the property managers around the city and can tell you if a condo has a good one or not.
4. What Is Included In The Maintenance Fees?
This can make a big difference in your monthly/annual costs. You need to know what is included in the maintenance fees, what utilities are / are not included, what additional rents are included (your heat pump often has a separate rental fee). Some condos also require you to rent the parking space if you have a vehicle.
You should also know what you are expected to repair on your own vs. what the condo is willing to repair. For example, if the heat pump in your condo unit breaks down is that your responsibility or is that the condos responsibility? If a window gets cracked is that your responsibility or the condos responsibility?
5. Condo Rules. 
You need to find out what rules the condo has that might effect you personally. For example, if you have pets, it is common for a condo to have one of the following restrictions:
– No Pets allowed.
– Pets under 25 pounds 35 pounds, or 50 pounds allowed.
– Only a certain number of pets allowed. 
Another thing you might want to know is the barbecue policy and what you are allowed to do with your balcony.
Renovations should also be considered. For example, if you would like to open up a kitchen wall in a unit you would want to make sure that the board rules would allow that.
If you are interested in a building that is highly owner occupied, you might want to find out what percentage of the units have tenants in them.
Also make sure to look into pending law suits. Are there any pending law suites against the condo board that might effect fees and the enjoyment of your condo?
There is a great deal  to look for before buying a condo, but we can guide you as to what you need to know and make sure you are protected by a great investment.

Join The Conversation