Condominium ownership is a very new alternative to traditional property ownership. The ability for a group of people to each own their own units, but share common expenses, and still live in harmony has created some huge benefits for buyers. However, if you didn’t know at least some of the benefits, then you likely wouldn’t be considering purchasing a condo in the first place. We will leave the benefits aside for now…
The items that most of our clients want to know about are the red flags. What items should I look a little more into before I purchase a condo in a particular building, complex or development? What things may be the signs of existing, past or future problems?
PLEASE NOTE: These items are only red flags. They are not necessarily problems in themselves, but should trigger a little more research.
Low Condo Fees
The fees may not include very many of the items they normally would. You may be expected to pay an assessment fee more often.
High Condo Fees
A problem may exist that the condo board is trying to pay for.
Low Reserve Fund
There may not be enough money to cover necessary repairs.
This is a lump sum of money required to either top up the low reserve fund or to fix an issue the condo has.
Unresolved Issues in the Meeting Minutes
If the most recent meeting minutes say they are waiting for a quote on something, then that something is still broken.
Registered Does Not Match the Listed Size
You may not be getting all the square footage you thought you paid for.
Not All Documents Are Available
This could be a result of poor management, or non-compliance with the Condo Act.
Post Tension Cables
If not cared for under the lawful requirements, this style of construction can cost a fortune to repair (typically causes higher fees).
Age Restricted Buildings
This limits who you can re-sell your unit to (or rent). Plus, some lenders will not provide certain mortgages for these buildings.
Any Stains or Signs of Water
This one is pretty obvious.
Lots of Units for Sale
Why does everyone want to sell?
If there is more money going out than is coming in, eventually you will run out of money.
Low Owner Occupancy
Lots of units are likely rented, and tenants don’t take care of their property as well as owners (and sometimes don’t follow the by-laws).
The one person who owns most of the units has most of the voting power.
If they neglect to return calls, what else do they neglect?
Do your homework and get all the information available on a complex. This is always your best security when buying a condo.
Source: Lindsey Smith of the Entyro Service Group in Calgary AB