Brampton Real Estate Blog

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Monday, June 6, 2011

Condo Living

Whether you are a first time home buyer or thinking about making a move to a condo there are important things to think about when making this type of move.  Condo living certainly can be very different from other types of home ownership but in some cases it is also the only affordable alternative for some to get their foot in the door of home ownership or to maintain a certain level of independence after retirement or a change in marital status.  Perhaps in order to enjoy a pick up and go lifestyle, condo living is the best option for you.  You should note though that condos can restrict your freedoms through a set of rules and bylaws governing how you may use your unit.

Among some of the advantages for those who welcome the change in lifestyle, outdoor maintenance like lawn mowing and snow shoveling is eliminated from your chore list, along with other maintenance items like making repairs to roofs, garage doors or fences.  Those are all items that are conveniently covered by your monthly maintenance fees when you choose condo living.  Your neighbours are MUCH closer than ever before but sacrificing some privacy in exchange for some freedom from the honey-do list might be well worth it for some.

So because so many people today call their condominium home, let's look at the specific ways it differs from other types of home ownership.  Condo ownership is divided among two or more parties, each of whom owns a portion of the structure separately, and a portion of it in common.  For example, if you're an owner in a high-rise condominium where there are several other owners, you own a unit individually, and it is legally registered in your name at the land registry office.  You also own a proportionate share of the common areas in the development.  These generally include the outside grounds, recreational facilities, lobby, elevators, stairs and hallways, as well as the air conditioning, electrical and plumbing systems.  Some common areas may be reserved for the exclusive use of specific owners, such as roof gardens, backyards (in town homes, for instance), balconies, parking spaces and storage lockers.

As a unit owner, you are automatically a member of the condo corporation, which manages the owners affairs.  You are essentially a voting member of a self governing community.  Each unit is awarded one vote, regardless of how many owners, residents, bedrooms or square feet are involved.

In addition to the costs associated with owning your own unit (mortgage payments, taxes, etc.), you are also required to pay your proportionate share of owning and maintaining the common areas.  This is paid in the form of a monthly maintenance fee.  In Ontario, at least 10 per cent of this fee must be held in a reserve fund to pay for major repairs on items like heating systems, roofs, plumbing, etc.  If you are thinking about buying a unit in an older building, be sure to satisfy yourself that the reserve fund is sufficient to pay for any anticipated major repairs to areas like the roof, underground garage or mechanical equipment. 

I welcome your questions and feedback regarding this or any other posts in this blog.  I look forward to hearing from you!