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Moving on up into Condo Ownership

So, you’re about to enter the vast, wondrous world of condo ownership. Congratulations! There’s nothing like owning your own home: knowing you can paint the walls, hang things wherever, and do just about anything you want – and the only person you’ll have to answer to is yourself. There’s no feeling quite like it. 

Similarly, there’s no experience quite so daunting, intimidating, and downright stressful as going through the process of buying your first home. The magnitude of the decision and the incredible amount of money being discussed is enough to make even the most level-headed renters shake their heads. we’ve got some helpful tips and pointers that should go a long way toward putting the fun back into “initial down payment fund” – read on for more!

Five Things to Keep in Mind While Condo Hunting

1. Get Your Financial Ducks in a Row 

Condo ownership is a costly endeavour – but then, so is all real estate ownership! There’s nothing worse than touring a bunch of locations, setting your heart on a particular condo, and then having to let it go only because of a lack of financial preparedness. 

Before you start seriously shopping around, be sure your finances are in place and ready to rock. This includes: Decreasing your debt load – through payments, consolidation, or other means.

Keep your credit score healthy by ensuring bills are paid on time and practicing good credit utilization. 

2. Learn Everything About Your Prospective Unit – Inside and Out 

This goes beyond just taking a peek in the bathroom to see if there’s a single- or double-vanity setup. Instead, learn more about what your condo ownership entitles you to. For example, does your unit come with additional onsite storage? Does it come with a reserved parking spot (a genuine consideration for condos located in the downtown core)? 

Does ownership grant you access to amenities like a pool, a fitness center, or a rec room? These are all huge value-adds and can make a higher monthly condo fee feel much more worthwhile. conversely, their absence could make a reasonable fee seem suddenly much less so. 

And hey, while we’re on the subject of condo fees…

3. Dig Deep into Those Fees

In addition to establishing an in-depth understanding of any amenities, your future condo fees might cover. It’s critical to have a clear sense of how the annual, bi-annual, quarterly, or monthly fees are being handled. Condo fees can range dramatically in cost: some units won’t have any fees at all, while others could come part and parcel with hundreds or even thousands of dollars in required fees each month. Yikes! 

It’s clear that condo fees have the potential to have a very real impact on the feasibility of any particular unit. The attractive mortgage payment may be made unmanageable month-to-month thanks to fees that might sit at an exorbitantly high comparative cost. If you have to let a unit go because of too-high fees, don’t worry – it might sting for a bit, but there’s always another awesome condo waiting just around the corner!

On a quick side note – it is vitally important to ensure that an estoppel certificate has been part of your real estate transaction. This is your assurance that you are not buying a property with an existing claim against the title. like unpaid condo fees, special levies, or chargebacks the previous owner has not dealt with.

4. Review the Rules

This is another sometimes-costly mistake that new condo owners make during the purchase process. Before signing on the dotted line, go through your future condo’s rules and bylaws! You might find something in those bylaws that could change your mind about buying. Many condos, for example, have set-in-stone restrictions regarding pet ownership, including approved dog sizes and accepted canine breeds. The last thing you want to do is find yourself forced to decide between walking away from your down payment or your furry best friend! So take the time and read those bylaws – we guarantee you’ll be grateful you did. 

5. Get a Grasp on the Condo Corporation’s Management History

Last but certainly not least, you’ll want to spend some time looking into the operational history of your prospective condo community, both from the condo corporation side of things and insofar as any condo management company might be concerned. 

This is where you’ll start to get a sense of the upkeep that’s been done to your condo community – or the maintenance that needs to be done. For example, when was the last time the roofing was replaced? How new are the major mechanical elements of the building? How often do inspections happen? What’s the state of the corporation’s reserve fund? When was the last reserve fund study conducted? Are there any upcoming special assessments on the horizon? Are special assessments a common occurrence? 

By asking these sorts of questions, you’ll be setting yourself up for success as a new condo owner – and hopefully avoiding any unexpected condo fee hikes or out-of-the-blue repair costs in the near- to mid-future!  

Leaping into condo ownership is an exciting prospect – but there are lots to plan and think about to ensure success! Want to learn more about setting yourself up for long-term happiness in your new condo community? Get in touch with us at Catalyst Condo Management today!

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