If you are looking to enter the housing market but are daunted by the higher prices, the need to maintain your property, or the potentially long commute, then have you considered buying a condo instead? While you do get to own a place of your own and it can be a great alternative to buying a home, buying a condo isn’t simply owning a smaller property. Here are six points you need to ponder before taking the condo plunge:
- Can you afford the monthly fees?: Owning a condo doesn’t mean that you just need to pay your mortgage and obvious operating costs. Owning a condo also means paying monthly fees. How much are these fees? That depends. Owners of brand new condos should expect a large increase in fees in your second year to cover the cost of amenities and to build up the condo reserve. For any condo owners, expect that fees will increase yearly also to keep up with inflation. Also, do you know what your monthly fee covers exactly? They may cover all, or none, of your utilities, landscaping, legal fees, and property management services, to name a fee. Read and understand your contract so that you can budget correctly.
- Will you enjoy being part of the community?: After buying a condo, you will be the sole owner of your unit. But at the same time, you will also belong to the condo community. What exactly does this mean? For example, you will share certain spaces, such as the parking area, elevators, concierge, gazebos and benches, and hallways with the other owners. Consequently, you are also responsible for being extra considerate due to the number of places where you can encounter your neighbors, or the proximity of your unit to shared areas.
- Are you well suited to the condo lifestyle?: Buying a condo comes with some definite advantages: less worry about general maintenance and upkeep, less of a financial burden for some, and depending on its walk-ability, the ability to leave a smaller carbon foot print. At the same time, you get less personal space in your unit plus you get less overall privacy due to the number of shared spaces in the building. Some people absolutely thrive in this type of living situation while others prefer a greater physical personal space from others – do you know which suits you better?
- When is a condo not a condo?: Many condo owners live in their units and enjoy the lifestyle. But others use their condos for investment purposes, and instead of living there themselves, rent it out to others. There is nothing wrong with this strategy, but are you willing to live with both owners and renters when you don’t know who owns and who rents? You need to determine if you simply want to own your own unit, or if the ownership of the other units will affect your enjoyment of where you live.
- The business side of things: Newer condos have lots of amenities available within a short distance, and some of those may be local businesses that are located on the main floor of your condo. On one hand, this may extremely convenient if you want a gourmet coffee or need some dry cleaning, but it also means that you will need to share your building space and parking areas with businesses and customers. How close do you want to be?
- You still have obligations: You may need to paint your walls or fix a leaking sink. But condo living also means you have additional obligations too. These can include attending owners’ meetings, voting for the condo board of directors, having your say about how the condo will be governed, and adhering to the condo corporation’s rules, which can dictate the size of front door knockers to the items you can have on your balcony. Do you mind these additional responsibilities?
Whether it is a house or condo, owning property has its share of responsibilities, and a condo has its own unique requirements. Take your time to understand your rights and responsibilities before you decide to buy a condo so that you make the best decision for your lifestyle and personality.