Jeff is a Certified Condominium Specialist. With plenty of knowledge of Calgary's inner city condos & their communities. Jeff is a great asset to helping you with any of your condo needs.
Forty years ago when condominiums first appeared in Calgary they were primarily purchased by people who could not afford single family dwellings. Today Condos are purchased by everyone - single - married - young - old - male - female - and condos can be purchased for as low as $100,000 and as high as in excess of $3,000,000 here in the City of Calgary.
Are you thinking about home ownership but shutter at the thought of upkeep and repairs? Does the idea of private living in a group environment appeal to you? Why not consider buying a condo?
With the rising costs of single family homes, and with changing lifestyles, more and more people are attracted to Calgary condos. But there are some issues you might want to consider before deciding which way you want to go.
What is a Condominium?
The word Condominium refers to a type of ownership, not a type of home. Many Calgary condo buyers are not aware of this. They see apartment units as condos but exclude townhomes. Even single family dwelling is a condominium if the owner is required to pay a monthly fee for the upkeep of the common elements. Calgary condominium projects include high-rise and low-rise apartments, townhouses, semi-detached and single detached homes. Even within the condominium definition there have evolved different types of ownership. You may live in a "bareland" condominium where you own and are responsible for the maintenance of the exterior of your unit. (This is usually with semi-detached of detached homes.) Apartment condominiums are different again; they most typically have a higher monthly fee because more services are covered, e.g. heating, cable TV. parking etc. With new condominiums, builders may attach their own marketing name to each of these types of dwellings such as "free dominium", "freehold condo town homes" and so on. There are many different types of condominium ownership and they are all represented in the Calgary condo for sale market.
Because with a condo you are purchasing more than the unit, (you are buying an ownership in the condominium corporation; you need to review the detail of the financial health and lifestyle rules of the corporation prior to committing to the purchase of a unit. In Calgary Alberta, usually condominium purchases are made conditional to the Buyer receiving and approving the appropriate documents. This condo document package should include copies of the bylaws, the current budget, recent financial statements, insurance certificate, copies of the reserve study, if they have one, the management agreement, etc. Spend time reviewing the material, especially the financial information and the use and occupancy restrictions of the bylaws. The minutes of meetings may disclose an upcoming special assessment or that no pets are allowed, for instance.
Make sure you ask every question you can think of. Do you have to maintain your privacy area as you must in some Calgary condo complexes? What about parking? Additional storage space? Do people get along with each other and the board of managers? Do the fees seem comparable with other similar Calgary condominiums with similar services included? If they are too low, realize that they may soon be raised, or special assessments may be imminent.
If the building being considered is older, find out all you can about the age and condition of any of the expensive components. Ask for copies of engineer's reports on post tensioning, boilers, roof conditions, etc. Do the funds in the condo reserve appear to be adequate for future expenses? How high is the insurance deductible? Make sure that you are adequately informed before removing conditions.
With Calgary condo the home you purchase is actually referred to as a unit in the Condominium Act. The boundaries of the unit are different in each project. A description of the boundaries is contained in the declaration. The boundaries in some projects may include front and rear yards while in other projects the boundaries stop at the interior walls. The description will determine the common elements and likely affect the common element fees. Be sure to investigate these issues when looking at Calgary condos for sale.
Buying a Condo: Step-By-Step Guide
The process to buy a condo is unique and sometimes complicated. Some facets of it, like the mortgage process, are similar to the process required for buying a single family home; but that's where the similarities end. The guide below will take you through the condo-buying process step-by-step. Our goal is to make your road to condo ownership a little smoother.
How to buy a Condo
So you've decided to buy. Good for you! The problem is, finding the right condo might be harder than you think. If you're unfamiliar with condos, you might think they're all alike- but that's far from the truth. Check out condos in the area where you'd like to live, and make sure to ask all of the important questions.
What condo amenities are offered?
Some of the main benefits of condo life come from the extras that are thrown in. Some condos have gyms; others have swimming pools, saunas, and rooftop party areas. The condo you buy should have amenities that you're truly likely to use. Keep in mind that regardless of whether or not you log time in the gym, you're going to be paying for the equipment.
How does the Home Owner's Association (HOA) operate?
Condos are run on a group mentality, where all condo owners in the complex meet regularly to make decisions regarding the building and its upkeep. You might not be interested in attending the condo meetings, and that's perfectly fine. However, you should look into how the current meetings are conducted and what types of developments are in store for the general area. You should also investigate how restrictive HOA rules may be- some associations have strict rules regarding everything from holiday decorations to paint colors to plastic lawn flamingos.
Investigate daily annoyances
Although condo owners have more control and responsibility over their homes than apartment dwellers do, there are still certain things that are out of your control. Check out soundproofing between units. Investigate the parking situation. Ask current tenants if they run into maintenance issues and whether they can get them fixed in a reasonable amount of time.
Check out the condo reserve funds
All condos have a reserve fund that owners contribute to each month. This fund pays for general upkeep and maintenance on the building as a whole. There should be a good-sized reserve to protect you (and your pocketbook) against any emergencies.
Buying a Condo
This is the part where buying a condo becomes an awful lot like any other home purchase. You must secure a mortgage through a lender, and the rate you get will depend on your credit history, income, and past rental history or home purchases.
There is one major difference between financing a condo and financing a single family home. You might be under the impression that buying a condo will save you the cost of maintaining a home. This isn't true. What it does save you is the actual maintenance work.
When you purchase a condo, the price you pay for it covers a laundry list of services of which you might not be aware. Make sure to look into the purchase price of your condo and see what services are included in the cost- and what ones you'll be expected to cover yourself in the future. Repairs, staff salaries, utilities, garbage collection, insurance, and lawn care are just a few examples of the kinds of things condo owners are paying for.
So the truth is that buying a condo won't necessarily be any less expensive than purchasing a home. You're still considered a property owner, and as such you're responsible for all the usual things that go with it. The benefits of a condo lie not in the costs, but in the convenience.
If you're dealing with empty nest syndrome and like the idea of living in a community atmosphere, then a condo may be for you. If you're ready to own but hate the idea of an entire house to take care of, consider a condo.
There are all sorts of reasons to buy a condo. Whatever your reason, make sure you're doing it the right way and that you find the right one. After all, it's your future home!