Condos: 5 mistakes to avoid as a buyer
Last update : 2023-03-03 15:42:57
If you want to become a homeowner, the first question you need to ask yourself is what type of property you want to invest in. A single-family home? Or would you prefer to buy a condo instead?
The latter option is particularly popular in urban centres such as Montreal because it is more affordable than a house. Nonetheless, buying a condo is a major move that should not be taken lightly. This is an important investment, which can bring many advantages, but also several disadvantages for buyers who are unfamiliar with these processes.
To prevent your experience from becoming more of a nightmare, we've put together a list of five mistakes not to make when buying a condo.
1. Falling for low condo fees
What could be more tempting than discovering a bargain when looking at the fees of the condo you want to buy? But beware of these fees. They may look attractive, but don’t be fooled. They usually cover only the minimum maintenance of the building, and when more maintenance is required, you will have to pay a surplus.
In fact, when unforeseen events arise or additional repair work has to be done (balcony replacement, roof repair, etc.), you may have to pay special contributions. These could shock you, easily amounting to several thousand dollars depending on the work required.
Before buying your condo, check the budget allocated by the condominium to the contingency fund, that is, the money set aside for major work. Condo fees of 5% are generally insufficient in meeting long-term maintenance needs or the various unforeseen events that may arise. As such, it may be more beneficial to pay higher fees each month in order to avoid having to pay unexpected contributions.
2. Not checking the building rules or declaration of co-ownership
Investing in a condo also means investing in a lifestyle. It is therefore all the more important that you get acquainted with your neighbours, as well as the various rules of cohabitation contained in the declaration of co-ownership.
Feel free to ask questions and visit the property several times in order to get a feel for the atmosphere and the behaviour of other owners. Do they live in the condo or rent it out? Are there more retirees or are there mostly families with young children? These are some factors that could make or break your decision to buy.
Also take note of the various rules of cohabitation stated in the declaration of co-ownership, as they aim to ensure the quality of the building, and they regulate its use and the way in which it operates. As a co-owner, you will need to know precisely what your responsibilities are and what you are allowed to do in the building. For example, some condominiums may prohibit barbecues on balconies, animals in apartments, etc.
By reading the regulations in place before signing, you will be able to determine if the environment is suitable for you or not.
3. Forgetting to put promises in writing when buying a condo off-plan
Buying a condo off-plan offers many advantages, such as the ability to choose from several layouts, making changes to customize your space, enjoying the best spots in the building, etc. However, be sure to put all the elements discussed with the developer in writing.
This serves as protection against any possible changes that the developer may make. A written contract with all the elements discussed has much more weight than a simple exchange of words and ensures that you get the condo of your dreams.
4. Neglecting the pre-purchase inspection of your condo
As in the case of a house, it is essential that you have your condo inspected before completing your purchase, whether it is new or pre-owned. You don’t want to invest in a home with a lot of potential problems!
A pre-purchase inspection, carried out by a building inspector, will detect construction or maintenance failures and possible risks to your safety. Don't limit this to your private unit; also inspect communal areas, windows, roofs, etc. If renovations are required in any of the communal areas, a fee may be added after the purchase. It is therefore better that you are aware of everything before signing the contract.
In the event that potential problems are discovered, you could negotiate the purchase price downwards, demand adjustments, or completely pull out from the transaction.
5. Not comparing with the market
If you do business with a real estate broker, they know the market in your region and your specific area. They will be able to advise you and tell you if the asking price for the condo you want is reasonable.
However, if you decide to go through the buying process by yourself, take the time to compare other condos for sale in your area, through websites for example. Even if you do not have access to a directory as precise as that of the real estate broker, you will still be able to get a general idea of the market. You will then be able to determine more easily if the selling price of your condo is appropriate.
Are you looking to buy a condo?
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