THE CONDO BUY­ERS’ GUIDE

Ev­ery­thing you need to know to buy your first condo

StarMetro Calgary - - CREB NOW - GER­ALD VAN­DER PYL

So, you’ve de­cided a condo is right for your lifestyle and you’re pre-ap­proved for a mort­gage, but what’s the next step?

Viki Fair­bairn, a REAL­TOR® and certified con­do­minium spe­cial­ist with Royal LePage Bench­mark in Cal­gary, says buy­ing a condo dif­fers from buy­ing a house, so it’s im­por­tant to find the right Real­tor to take you through the process.

Fair­bairn says even with mort­gage pre-ap­proval, it’s im­por­tant to as­sess your ac­tual “hard bud­get,” which takes into ac­count all your spend­ing, be­fore shop­ping around.

“Go back to last year and (de­ter­mine) ab­so­lutely ev­ery­thing you spent your money on,” she said. “What about date night? Christ­mas presents and hol­i­days? Sav­ings and emer­gency funds? Things that you may not think about. What does that cost you in a year?”

The key is to be able to buy a condo and still en­joy your life, not end up “house poor.”

Fair­bairn says it’s cru­cial to un­der­stand condo fees, in­clud­ing how they re­late to the square footage of the unit, what ex­penses they in­clude and whether the re­serve fund is suf­fi­cient.

She says condo fees tend to rise as a new condo starts to age, so if the fees are high at the start, they might rise to a point where the unit is not only ex­pen­sive to own, but also dif­fi­cult to sell in the fu­ture.

Have your Real­tor look into any in­cluded park­ing spa­ces or stor­age lock­ers, as well as whether they are as­signed, ti­tled or leased, which can make a big dif­fer­ence.

Fair­bairn says prospec­tive buy­ers should also find out what an owner is re­spon­si­ble for re­pair­ing or re­plac­ing, such as win­dows or doors, and whether the condo cor­po­ra­tion ap­pears to be well man­aged. Hav­ing an out­side com­pany con­duct a doc­u­ment re­view can un­cover a lot of use­ful in­for­ma­tion.

“If your condo doc­u­ment

‘‘

IF YOUR CONDO DOC­U­MENT RE­VIEW COMES BACK AND SAYS THEY’VE BEEN HAV­ING ALL KINDS OF PROB­LEMS WITH BAL­CONIES IN THAT BUILD­ING AND ARE TALK­ING ABOUT A SPE­CIAL AS­SESS­MENT COM­ING UP, IT MIGHT BE THE BEST $500 YOU EVER SPENT.”

re­view comes back and says they’ve been hav­ing all kinds of prob­lems with bal­conies in that build­ing and are talk­ing about a spe­cial as­sess­ment com­ing up, it might be the best $500 you ever spent,” she said.

When you’ve nar­rowed down your choices, dis­cuss any con­di­tions or terms that need to go into an of­fer, such as a condo in­spec­tion or any­thing re­lated to by­laws, with your Real­tor.

For in­stance, Fair­bairn says condo by­laws might al­low pets “with ap­proval by the condo board,” so make it a con­di­tion that your pet is able to get pre-ap­proved.

“Make sure those con­di­tions and terms cover what you need,” she said.

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