If you’re looking to buy a home in Toronto you may have heard that there are price increases over the past few years. Real estate Toronto is becoming highly competitive. However, you can find a value and take major advantage of the market in purchasing a condominium. What are condominiums? Condos are multiple apartments in one building development. There are usually cheaper than townhouses or stand-alone homes in the same area.
Condos can usually be found in the multiple online portal for real estate. Condo developments are managed and maintained by associations that relieve you of the burden of the upkeep in the building. These associations also establish the rules for the building and are made up of the condo owners.
Buying a condo has many benefits. They offer a cheaper living space than single family houses and far less maintenance and upkeep. However, you have to understand issues to research before proceeding with purchasing a condo in Toronto or anywhere.
Type and Location
There are three general types of condos:
1. Traditional Condominium
a. The first is a traditional condo where you own everything from the walls in. In this type of condo you don’t own the land the condo is built upon.
2. Site Condominium
a. The second type is called a site condominium where you own your apartment and a share in the land the condo is built on.
3. Condominium Hotel
a. Another option is a condominium hotel, where you rent out your condo when you’re not using it.
Overall, the differences between a traditional and site condominium are negligible. But some people are hesitant to buy a condo on land that might one day revert to another ownership and thus another use.
Also decide where you ideally would like the condo to be situated, such as your preference for a particular city or neighborhood. Within the development itself, the condo’s location is also important. You might, for example, not want a condo facing a busy street. Perhaps you are looking for a condo that is near to the entrance of a building, or one that has a nice view.
The last thing you want to discover after buying a condo is that things don’t work properly, particularly if those things are what attracted you to the condo in the first place. There are, of course, the basic checks, such as making sure that the gas, water and electricity all work. Then there are the more fundamental things like whether the building is properly maintained by the condo association.
If, for example, the swimming pool is one of the things that you like best about the condo, make sure that it is cleaned regularly and open at the hours that you want access.
The associations that run condo developments set the rules for the rest of the owners to live by. You need to know what kind of building you are moving into, the atmosphere and values of the building, by reading the association rules.
There’s no point moving into a particular condo development if you find the association’s rules too difficult to live by. Loud music, the number and type of visitors you can have, use of the development’s facilities and parking are all possible things that an association may have strict rules about. Read up on these rules before buying the condo, and decide whether you will be prepared to abide by them.
Additionally, it is advisable to look at the condo association fees, and see whether you will be able to afford them. Look at the minutes of the condo association meetings to see if there are any outstanding maintenance issues that are likely to be expensive and will cause these fees to rise. Obtain a copy of the building’s certificate of insurance and see if any building development costs will be covered.
Sometimes circumstances change and you may want to rent out your condo space. This allows you to offset the amount of money you put towards your mortgage. To find out how much you’d save you can to calculate your mortgage rate and payments using an online mortgage calculator.
You should find out if renting is an option for you in the future, if you so wish. Check out the renter population in the building. If the renter population is more than 10%, there should be clear rental policies, either listed in the bylaws or tacked on as an amendment. Look for answers to these questions:
1. Does the management company find renters for you?
2. If so, do they get enough good renters?
3. What is the history of renters in the building? Do they obey the rental laws or does management ignore their issues? Renters may be less respectful of the association rules, and the state of the building and its facilities may suffer as a result.
Ask other tenants about their experiences.
In addition, ask to see the association’s rental lease, and have a real-estate lawyer look it over. Remember, though, that an association can change its bylaws to prohibit or restrict renting at any time. The more owners who rent out, the less of a chance that this will happen.
A condo can be a great lifestyle choice. Just make sure that you know what to look for before
choosing the condo community in which you are going to live.
Do Background Research On Potential Problems
The best way to find out about a buildings issues: financial, interpersonal, facilities, etc. is to look at the minutes of the condo association’s board meetings to see what owners have been complaining about.
If everyone is complaining about heating issues or so-so maintenance, you can infer that the complex is having management difficulties. Even if there aren’t complaints, reading the minutes will reveal the kinds of projects that are under way at the complex, including those that the seller may not have mentioned.
Another major part of the condo to examine are the financial records. You should find out the delinquency rates of present owners. People not paying their association dues on time can be a signal for internal discontent, a poor ability of the condo to screen out those with financial problems and might even show that the condominium might be underfunded.
Ask if the community has done a reserve-fund review recently. If the complex is less than 10 years old, the reserve fund should have 10% of the cost of replaceable items such as roofs, roads and amenities like gymnasiums and playrooms. For complexes between 10 and 20 years old, the repair fund should be at 25% to 30%. At 20 years, that amount should be 50% or more.
Be careful of maintenance that is too low. Those who don’t pay much in maintenance may be in a complex that has poor upkeep or that is living beyond its means.
If you look at nothing else, get a copy of the certificate of insurance, which is a summary of the association’s insurance policy. Take the insurance certificate to an agent whom you trust and who understands the laws. Check to see if the amount of money that the building will get is an accurate estimate of total rebuilding costs. If your condominium is severely damaged due to a storm or fire, it would be financially detrimental if the money received from the insurance wasn’t enough to cover the full costs of rebuilding.
Then ensure that the policy has a building-ordinance clause, which means that the insurance will cover the cost of bringing the building to code if rebuilding occurs. On older buildings, there may have been many code upgrades since construction. If they’re not covered than that responsibility will fall on the owner’s shoulders.
Self Management is a Big No-No
Finally, watch out for a condo whose owners manage the place themselves. Although many are operated efficiently, self-management can lead to more hassles for owners — especially those who live thousands of miles away.
Assuming the complex is professionally managed, check out the management company as thoroughly as you check out the association. Ask other owners and interview people in other buildings the agency manages. Find out if they’ve been taken to court and why. If you buy a condo with a bad manager, you’ll be in for bad times.