Thinking about buying a condo?
In October, Ottawa’s condominium supply was up 15% over last year, while residential housing supply was down 46% (Ottawa Real Estate Board). This trend may indicate a buying opportunity for those interested in the condo lifestyle.
Why Choose the Condo Lifestyle?
Looking to Downsize
Wayne and Kathy are retirees in their early 60s. With their children grown, their 4-bedroom house no longer suits their needs. They’re looking to downsize but want to stay in Barrhaven.
Ideally, they’d like a townhouse or low-rise condo. Condo living appeals to them because the maintenance is taken care of and they can easily lock up and go when they want to travel.
Hassan and Anna are in their late 30s and work in Ottawa’s high-tech sector. They have two cats and don’t plan to have children. They’d like to live in a trendy neighbourhood – Westboro, the Glebe or Ottawa South – where they can walk to nearby shops.
They often work from home and like the idea of having easy access to a pool, sauna and fitness centre within the building.
Buying a Condo is An Affordable Way to Enter the Housing Market
Sheryl is a recent university graduate and has been offered a job in Ottawa. While she could rent an apartment, she wants to build equity.
Her motivation for buying a condo is that it’s an affordable way for her to live downtown close to public transit, bars, restaurants and entertainment venues. She’s looking for a bachelor unit in the downtown core for under $350,000.
What You Should Know Before Buying A Condo
Buying a condo is very different from buying your own home. With condos you own your unit but share ownership of the land, building and common areas.
Condo Association Fees
Condo fees cover your portion of the care and maintenance of common areas.
Sheryl, who’s on a tight budget, will need to make sure she accounts for condo fees and be clear on what they include. One building’s fees might include the cost of municipal services, such as snow removal and garbage collection, while another may not.
A portion of those fees will be used to create a reserve fund to cover major or unexpected costs, such as upgrading or repairing the plumbing, elevators, roof, heating systems or parking structures.
Do Your Due Diligence Before Buying A Condo
As a co-owner of the building, you can be held collectively liable. Reviewing the condo’s documentation before purchasing a condo unit is critical.
Ask to see the condo’s status certificate, which will provide information on its reserve fund, annual budget, projected expenses, and any pending lawsuits.
Knowing how much is held in the reserve fund is important because if major repairs are required and there’s not enough in the reserve fund, owners can be charged an out-of-cycle fee to cover the cost.
To learn more about fees and the legislation that governs condominiums in Ontario, please refer to this informative fact sheet from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.
Shared ownership adds a unique set of considerations. Condo rules protect you from inconsiderate neighbours, but they also apply to you.
As the unit owner, you’re free to paint the interior walls of your unit any colour you like, but there may be restrictions on what colour you can paint the exterior. On the flip side, you can rest assured that none of your neighbours can paint their front door bright purple.
Understanding the rules before you buy will help avoid unpleasant surprises once you move in.
What are the policies about noise, parking, and storage?
Since Hassan and Anna already have cats, they’ll want to know the rules on pet ownership.
Wayne and Kathy may decide to rent out their condo while they head south for the winter, so they’ll need to confirm that’s permitted by the condo association before buying.
Part of your research when looking for a condo should include finding out about the building’s ‘vibe’. Hassan and Anna will be looking for a building that caters more to young professionals than to seniors.
You might also want to ask what proportion of the units are owner-occupied. Although not always the case, renters may be less invested in the community than owners.
There are multiple factors that make buying a condo different from buying a detached home. A real estate agent experienced in condo sales can guide you through that process.
Buy and Sell with Confidence. Choose The MacDonald Property Group.
At MacDonald Property Group, we have a dedicated full-service team under one roof ready to provide the expertise you can trust. With over twenty-five years of experience in real estate, we have sold and bought over a thousand homes. We’re proud to say that we’ve helped thousands of clients in Barrhaven and across the Ottawa area close a deal with confidence and satisfaction.