Before you invest in a condo of your own you've got to know the basics of being a condo owner. Having a condo is often much more affordable and takes a lot of pressure off of the house owner as someone else is responsible for the maintenance and repairs of the building, this also means you are living stress-free that bad things may happen to the place you are living in. Condos have amazing enhanced security features that are unique to the condo itself and they're thought of as units in different high-rise residential buildings but they can also be townhouses, duplexes, triplexes and single detached houses. When buying a condo for yourself you have three choices; you can buy a brand new condo, a resale condo or complete a condo conversion yourself.
When you own a condo, you have paid for a unit. The unit is yours as you share the ownership of the common elements and assets of the building but you have a limited boundary in which you own. Before you buy a condo it is best to find out units boundaries as you could be responsible for window washing or repairing the townhouse's bricks. This should be stated in the contract you are given so make sure this is read thoroughly. As well as paying for your individual unit and the portion of the shared common property there are condo monthly fees that cover the estimated cost of any future maintenance and repairs the condo may need. It is required by law that condo owners (in certain provinces and territories) pay money for a fund study, and beware that it is not common at all to get refunds to unit owners. So be careful when you are working out the common expenses that you haven't overly estimated the expenses.
Condo corporations are actually legal entities if you become a condo owner you and all the other owners can be sued for matter which all of you are liable. In addition, you and all of the other owners have the right to sue for damages to the common property if it occurs. If you are buying a condo in Vancouver you must take this into consideration as well as other pointers.
The pros and cons of condo ownership
As a potential condo owner, you need to know all the pros and cons of owning your own condo. Although there are many things that can be exciting and new when purchasing your first condo, there are many things you must consider before handing over the money it costs to buy it. After all, you want a quality home for you and everyone else you're housing and you don't want any hidden costs months down the line. You need to evaluate whether or not the condo life suits your lifestyle, financial situation and personality.
There are inevitably fewer maintenance and repair responsibilities which mean you can save a lot of money on repairing the things that need it. A con of this though is that you will then not be able to decide when maintenance and repairs get done. This could change the way you look at buying a condo as it is often better to own more and pay a little more than vice versa as you have more control over your property when complications occur.
Owning a condo means you have access to on-site amenities such as a swimming pool, or sauna which you may not have been able to afford otherwise. With this in mind, the rent or price of your condo is enhanced and you may have to then be paying for amenities you never or rarely use yourself. Before you make the big step in purchasing your own condo, think about a number of times you're going to use the amenities that condos offer.
In condos, there are enhanced security features in the condo units which mean you'll have peace of mind whilst you're away travelling or on holiday knowing that your neighbours are close by. However, there is often less privacy in some condo units and possibly more noise, dependant on the complex you choose. There is also the idea of having a regular financial situation if you are a new property owner you may never have had regular bills or money being withdrawn out of your account every month or so. You must make sure you have enough money to cover your bills, fees and the condo itself.
Luckily with condo ownership the monthly maintenance and condo fees are very predictable which means it's easy to know your budget every month. With this in mind, the downfall of owning a condo is that there is a possibility of special assessment charges for unexpected repairs.
Buying a condo
The three choices you have as a potential condo owner are simple but the differences between them are quite big. Buying a new condo may mean you have a to wait a few months before you can move in. This is because developers put new condos up for sale before their construction has been completed or even begun. This type of condo buying has its advantages as you can ask for a set floor plan if you don't like the original and you are able to make it your own by planning the layout yourself. Looking at the length of the project is always a good idea, if you want to move in, in a month (for example) you need to make sure the project will be done by then and you don't want to be disappointed. If you contact the developer they should be able to give you details about the property and its management who essentially holds the key responsibility for the day-to-day running of your newly built condo. When buying a brand new condo you've got to be prepared to pay occupancy fees to the developer, this will cover the period between the time you take occupancy of your unit to the time you take ownership of it (once it is all registered in your name etc.)
Resale condos are regularly up for sale as have many advantages over just new buys, you have the luxury of seeing what you're buying before you buy it. This makes everything a lot clearer for the buying process. There are no hidden fees and you are able to find out exactly how much space you'll have, what the layout is like and where the common elements of the condo are. Although the resale condos are often older it means you get a little character to your new home, if that's something you look for in a home than a resale condo might be more for you. In addition to this, with resale condos, you often don't have to wait for the building process to happen. You may be able to pay and move in, in a shorter amount of time rather than having to wait for anything.
Checklists, tips and FAQ's
Below is a list of things you must be able to check off the checklist whilst buying a new condo;
- Find out if there are any plans to reduce the ceiling height anywhere in the unit you are purchasing.
- Verify the boundaries of the unit, the floor area and your unit factor is reasonable.
- Ask the developer about noise and odour reduction methods such as the location of heating, air-conditioning and ventilators.
Check off these items on your checklist if you are buying a resale condo;
- Hire a home inspector to evaluate the condition of the unit you are thinking of buying, as well as the building. You don't want to be paying over price when the condo isn't worth it.
- Find out what your monthly condo fees include and when they are likely to increase as you don't want any unexpected bills.
- Investigate whether there are any hidden costs such as long term leases on building fixtures which will then be passed to the owners.
What do my condo fees cover?
Your monthly condo fees pay your portion of the cost to maintain and repair the common property. These costs may cover:
- removal of snow, garbage and recyclables;
- cleaning (carpets in common areas and outside windows, for example);
- heating and cooling systems maintenance;
- amenities (such as a swimming pool or party room);
- cable and Internet;
- insurance policies for the condominium's common areas;
- security systems maintenance and monitoring;
- salaries of employees (if there are a superintendent or security guards, for instance); and
- property management fees 
What happens if I don't pay my condo fees?
Condo fees aren't optional nor are they negotiable, if you can't afford the fees then, unfortunately, this means you can't afford the condo. If you do withhold your condo fees it may end in suspension of voting rights as a consequence and in some jurisdictions, you are not allowed to vote if you are over 30 days behind in your payments.
Can I rent out my condo?
Mostly this is allowed however, it is advised that the owners consulate this with the complex itself as they all have different terms and conditions. It is also advised to find out from the property manager what percentage of the building is owner-occupied.
Listings of condos in Vancouver
We at Dream Living offer many services as we are a Vancouver real estate company. From buying a townhouse in Kitsilano to an apartment in Yaletown. The listings on our site are endless.
802 150 E Cordova Street
Retailing at just under $750,00 this gorgeous property is a two bedroom, two bathroom condo located in Gastown. This 2016 built beauty has an interior designed by award winning Evoke International Design and is within walking distance to Yaletown, Chinatown and the Skytrain stations. See more about this property here.
302 53 W Hastings Street
Built in 2008 this 9-year-old property has one bedroom and one bathroom but includes a sleek kitchen with stainless steel backsplash and integrated appliances. It's just a stone's throw away from restaurants, cafes and boutiques in the heart of Gastown. Retailing at $575,000 this is one of the cheaper condos we offer and it is just simply beautiful to look at. Check out more about this property here.
303 1180 Homer Street
The McMaster building was completely rebuilt in 2007 and with the renovations can amazing properties such as this two bed, two bath apartment. This 1,328 square foot red brick property is perfect for those who love to live the life of luxury. It comes with one parking space and only costs around $1,660,000. Have a closer look at it here.