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Buying a condo? Here's what you should know.

Condominium living can be an affordable and relatively carefree housing option. For instance, owning a condominium can mean fewer maintenance and repair responsibilities, more predictable monthly maintenance costs, and access to a wider range of on-site amenities that you otherwise might not be able to afford.

However, condo living can also mean less privacy, having to pay for amenities you rarely use, having less of a say in deciding when repairs get done, as well as possible restrictions on things like parking, pets or smoking.

If you have made the decision to purchase a condominium, be sure to ask the following questions when looking at your potential new home:

  • How much can you afford to comfortably spend? How large a down payment will you have? What will you need to pay each month in mortgage payments, condo fees, utilities, insurance premiums, property taxes and other expenses?

  • Is there a special assessment listed in the documents? What is this money being spent on? How will this impact your condo fees and overall expenses?

  • Is the condominium well managed and in good physical, financial and legal condition? Does it have sufficient insurance coverage?

  • Is the condominium protected by a new home warranty program? If you are buying a new condominium, what does the warranty cover? If you are purchasing a resale condominium, is there any warranty coverage remaining on the unit?

  • If you are buying a new condominium before the construction is complete, what are your unit’s exact specifications, and when will it be ready to move into?

  • If you are buying a resale condominium, can you get a copy of the corporation’s annual operating budget, financial statements and estoppel (or status) certificate? How large is the condominium’s reserve fund?

When you become a condominium owner, you are also becoming part of a community. Ask yourself if you are willing to take on the responsibility of being a member of a Condo Corporation, and whether you are comfortable living within the rules and By Laws set by your Condo Board. It’s always a good idea to obtain an up-to-date copy of the rules from the seller, the property manager or the board of directors.

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