RULES: Close look
Other rules and restrictions often include strict guidelines regarding the altering of appearances.
You will also want to check into the parking rules. Know if your unit includes a stall, or if you have to pay additional fees for parking.
If these restrictions are documented regulations, each unit owner must follow them.
Do you understand your monthly condo fees?
Monthly condo fees, to be paid by each unit, are also set by the corporation to pay for the upkeep of the buildings and grounds.
Condo fees are determined by the corporation based upon their needs and are usually calculated from the annual operating cost of the entire condo building and divided by the percentage of your contribution.
They typically include dayto-day care and upkeep of the grounds, exterior building, property management, amenities, utilities, insurance and reserve fund contribution.
These rules, regulations and condo fees have to be provided to each buyer in a document upon sale of a unit.
What is the financial health of the condo corporation? Is all documentation for the condo accessible and in good order?
“It’s important to have a document review service take a close look at the condo documents,” says Wegerich. “One good reason to take a closer look is to find out what the condo corporation’s financial picture looks like and whether it is involved in any lawsuits.”
There a number of condominium document review services out there that your realtor can put you in touch with.
A seller and the condo corporation should provide you with governing documents (constitu- tion, declaration, condominium plan, and bylaws), reserve fund documentation, operating budget, financial statements, annual general meeting minutes and at least 12 months of board of director meeting minutes. What is a reserve fund? A reserve fund is set up by the condo corporation to provide financing for major repairs and projects over the life of the condo complex.
It ensures that all common elements are maintained and updated.
The reserve fund is funded and maintained by the condo owners. If there is not enough money in the fund, the corporation will expect the owners to provide more funding by means of a special assessment.
An estoppel certificate is a signed statement from the condominium corporation that certifies the information provided is correct, and outlines condo fees and any outstanding fees that remained unpaid
In most cases, the purchase of a condominium should be conditional to the buyer being satisfied with the condominium documents.
What is the comparable size of the unit?
It is important to understand the size of a condo unit when comparing it to others. There is currently no provincial-wide standard for condominium sizes and this can cause confusion for home buyers and sellers.
“To help address this concern, CREB requires all realtors who are listing a condo on the MLS system to include the registered size as registered through Alberta Land Titles,” says Wegerich. “The registered size has to be verified on the registered condominium plan and might include parking stalls, garages, below-grade areas, balconies and storage areas.”
Buyers should also ask their realtor to confirm the living area of the unit.
The living area typically includes only the above-grade, developed heated living area and excludes areas such as balconies, parking or storage lockers.
“We have made the registered size mandatory for every condo listing,” says Wegerich.
“To ensure the accuracy of condominium size information in the MLS system, CREB’s audit administrator checks the accuracy of registered size and registered size includes fields for every new condominium listing. “If the information is wrong, CREB immediately corrects the data and informs the realtor of this correction.”
The following is a quick checklist of things a condo buyer should consider:
Ask your realtor what their experience is buying and selling condos — and choose one you feel has the condo expertise you need.
Go over the condominium property schedule with your realtor. This form will be attached to the offer and will be a part of the contract.
Have a condominium document review specialist go over all of the condo documents and have them clearly explain to you any issues you should know about.
Make sure there is a certificate of insurance for the condo corporation.
Understand the condo fee breakdown and make sure you are satisfied with it.
Check the corporation’s bylaws to see how their rules and regulations fit with your lifestyle.
Make sure you understand what was included in determining the size of your unit.
Find out if the property manager is performing at a high level of service and to the satisfaction of the owners.
Ask questions of your realtor throughout the process.
“Despite all the questions that you need to ask, condo living can be a great fit for many buyers,” says Wegerich. “An experienced realtor can go a long way to helping you do the homework before you buy.”
A condominium development under construction. It’s important to do your research before buying a unit.