Condos offer first-time buyers an affordable entry into home ownership but buying a condo isn’t the same as buying a house. One major difference is that, on top of your mortgage payments, you’ll be responsible for maintenance fees for the building. And there are other things to think about. Consider these four “R’s” before committing to buying a condo.
Condo corporations have rules and it’s important to understand them before you sign an offer to purchase. When you buy a condo, you are entering into a shared ownership arrangement and that means you’ll have to get along with everyone else who lives in the complex. Thus, there are rules.
Condo rules cover everything from pet policies to whether or not you can rent your unit to someone else. The rules are spelled out in the official documents you’ll receive and should be carefully reviewed with your lawyer.
There will likely be restrictions on any renovation plans you may have for your unit. For example, you will probably need to have the approval of the condo’s board of directors before you can move an interior wall.
Other restrictions may include things like what colour you can paint exterior features such as the door, what you can and can’t have on your balcony, what you can do on the balcony, noise restrictions and what can and can’t be stored in your locker.
With regards to noise restrictions, one would hope that, as you’ll be living in close proximity to others, late-night parties can be avoided and TV volume levels can be kept to acceptable levels.
The documents you’ll receive will also make clear what repairs and maintenance you are responsible for and what is covered by your maintenance fees.
In general, the association will take care of all of the exterior upkeep of the buildings, grounds and common areas such as the pool, tennis courts and play areas. These areas are called the Common Elements. This can vary somewhat from association to association, so be clear about what exactly will and won’t be covered.
As the owner of a unit, you will be responsible for any maintenance and repairs inside your unit, such things as interior partitions, fixtures and improvements, paint, tiles, wallpaper, etc. In other words, it’s pretty much the same as it would be if you owned a house.