By Patricia-Anne Tom
If you’re in the market for a new home, the question, “Should I buy a condo?” Condos are often less costly to purchase than houses or townhouses, and they can offer conveniences you might not otherwise be able to afford. Yet there are caveats to condo ownership, too. Here are five things to think about before you take the plunge.
1. You don’t own the land
A condo is a building or complex consisting of multiple apartments that are individually owned. The entire building is owned by an individual or a property management company, but condo owners do not hold the title to the land on which the structure sits. This means the value of the property you own will consist solely of your condo.
2. Increased amenities, decreased maintenance
Condo communities may offer amenities (e.g., pools, a garage, or tennis courts) that you may not otherwise be able to afford if purchasing a townhouse or standalone house.
Additionally, condos can relieve you of the need to manage the building maintenance and any amenities. Some interior issues, such as plumbing and electricity, may be managed by the complex’s community association.
3. Should I buy a condo for the built-in social network?
Socially, condos can be great for singles, couples, and families. Your proximity to your neighbours and access to shared areas mean there will be greater opportunities for you to meet new people.
You’re likely to have less privacy, however, when you’re sharing walls and building access. Neighbours might be able to hear your conversations or see when you come and go.
Before buying, check to see that the other condo owners are friendly and seem likely to be people with whom you would get along.
4. Homeowners associations can be bureaucratic
This is obviously a case-by-case situation, but some condo HOAs can be difficult to deal with or have high monthly fees. Some associations can be politicized and hold you accountable for any perceived infringement of rules. Most associations will impose fees for building maintenance, whereas in another type of home you pay for expensive renovations or maintenance projects at a time when you can afford them.
Always take the time to be familiar with the association’s fees before you buy. You could also look at the minutes of the community association’s meetings to see if there are outstanding maintenance issues that are likely to be expensive.
Ultimately, keep these questions in mind: Do you like the condo’s size? Is it in the right neighbourhood? Is the building properly maintained and are the amenities to your liking? These considerations will point you in the right direction of a condominium that has everything you want in a home. Consult with your REALTOR® as they’ll possess the expertise to help you make an informed decision.