What to look for in a condo
So, you have decided that the condo lifestyle is for you. Where do you begin your search? How do you find the right one? There are so many options in Ottawa and the choices keep growing. My first recommendation is to find an agent that specializes in condo sales. Although there is no actual “condo specialist” designation, some agents are more active in the condo market and will have a better knowledge of buildings with their pros and cons. Most agents only sell a few condos a year so it is helpful to find one with a wider range of experience.
The first step is to determine the areas of interest and the price point. Are you looking for a specific neighbourhood or proximity to certain services? Keep in mind the condo fees when factoring a mortgage approval of budget. Condo fees vary greatly and so does the utilities that are covered in the fees. Some are all inclusive and include heat, hydro and water while others only cover management, building insurance and basic maintenance.
Next you will need to establish your criteria. The most common ones include:
- The size of the condo, number of bedrooms, number of bathrooms
- Is parking required? Garage, covered or open?
- Type of building – year of construction, high or low rise, concrete or wood construction
- Amenities- pool, storage lockers, elevators, exercise room, party room, communal garden etc. Keep in mind that the more amenities there are, the higher the maintenance costs ( pool and elevator maintenance and replacement can be quite costly) so do you want to pay for something you will not use?
- Demographics of people living in the building
- Pet restrictions
- Renovation and hardwood floor restrictions
And lastly, you will need to consider the financial and legal standing of the condo corporation. Buying a condo is becoming a part owner of a business and you will need to be aware of any financial strains of legal issues pertaining to the condo. Your lawyer will review a status certificate before you firm up on your purchase which will have detailed information about budget, reserve fund, reserve fund study and lawsuits but it is helpful to be aware of such issues at the beginning of your search so that you do not waste time and efforts only to discover these facts later in the process. Again, an experienced condo specialist is often aware of such issues and can guide you through your search.