Condominium living can be very appealing. It is often an affordable option of home ownership, and someone else handles much of the maintenance, such as shovelling snow and lawn maintenance, which makes it great for those you prefer carefree living! Many condominiums have enhanced security features over those found in single-family houses and offer a wide range of social, entertainment and recreational activities. These are a few examples of local condominiums with different levels of amenities and recreational activities:
The word condominium refers to a form of legal ownership, as opposed to a style of construction. A condominium can be anything from a high-rise residential building, a low-rise residential building, a townhome or even single family homes.
When purchasing a condominium unit, buyers often have three choices. They can buy a new condo, a resale condo or a conversion condo:
New condominiums are just what they sound like, it is a new unit that has never been lived in before. At the time of purchase, they can be in the planning stage, under construction or recently completed, and are usually purchased directly from the developer.
Resale condominiums are units that have already been occupied and are for sale by the current owner. This option is attractive because you have the advantages of seeing the unit, building and grounds before you make your purchase, which you may not always have with a new condominium, depending on the stage of construction when you purchase.
Conversion condominiums describe current buildings that has been renovated and turned into residential, condominium units. In Hamilton, an example of this is the Residences of Royal Connaught or the Stinson School Lofts. You can purchase units as either a new condominium as above if you purchase directly from the developer/builder, or you may be able to purchase from the current owner as a resale condominium.
There are two “parts” to a condominium purchase. The first part is the private dwelling, often referred to as “the unit”, which is registered in the name(s) of the owner of the unit. The second part consists of common areas, which are referred to as common elements. The ownership of these areas is shared between all of the individual unit owners, together with the cost of maintenance, operation and any upgrades or replacements to the common elements. Common elements can include common areas such as lobbies, hallways, elevators, recreational facilities, walkways, gardens and other amenities.
Condominium Corporations have their own board of directors elected by the individual condominium owners. The board is responsible for the management of the business affairs of the Condominium. Some condominiums are self-managed, meaning that many of the residents will not only sit on the board of directors but also act as the property manager, others have a management company that takes care of the business affairs on their behalf.
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Make sure that you receive a copy of the Status Certificate for review prior to purchasing a condominium. It will contain the information about the boundary of the unit as well as the rules and regulations of the condominium. You should be familiar with both items prior to finalizing any offer on a condominium to make sure that you are comfortable with what you are purchasing, for instance, some condominiums have restrictions on pets. You will also want to have this document reviewed by your lawyer prior to purchasing the unit. Some condominium regulations may appear to be strict, but these rules are there to make sure that the community is safe and enjoyable for everyone that lives there.
When you choose to live in a condominium, you will also be required to pay monthly condominium fees, along with all of the other unit owners. This fee covers the upkeep and replacement of the common elements, it might also cover the corporation’s insurance policy, utilities and maintenance (such as snow removal). A portion of the condominium fees will be added into a reserve fund to cover future maintenance and repairs. As a condominium owner, if there are major repairs that are unexpected and there isn’t enough funds in the reserve fund to repair it, all of the owners must pay the increased condominium fees or lump-sum payments to cover repairs. These lump-sum payments are considered special assessments. Any known special assessments will be disclosed on the Status Certificate.
Like all property ownership, condominiums have their advantages and disadvantages. If you are considering condominium ownership, I am here to help you navigate whether or not a condominium fits with your family, lifestyle and financial situation.
Contact me today and let’s start the search for your perfect home together!