Before Buying a Condo or Townhome...
Buying a condominium or any home for that matter may be the biggest invesment of your life, so you want to get it right.
Condominium apartments are a good choice for first time buyers, singles or empty nesters who don't want to worry about mowing a lawn or shovelling snow. They can also offer amenities such as pools and excercise rooms and want added features such as extra security.
Townhome condominiums are for those who want the best of both worlds - private outdoor space within a "community". The community shares in common expenses for things such as grass cutting, snow shoveling and exterior maintenace of each unit.
Freehold townhomes give you complete ownership of your unit and land along with all the responsibility. Usually in this situation, there are no restrictions on what you can and can't do and no "common element" fees - but not always, so make sure you know what you are buying.
Know What You Are Buying...
Something you should know about condominiums and how they differ from other forms of real estate. In "freehold" real estate, you own both the building and the land. In "condominiums" you own your suite or townhome and your "share" of the "common elements".
Owning "common elements" means that you have to pay for maintenance and upkeep of them, and these are known as "common area expenses" or maintenance fees. Before you buy, check how much these fees are on a monthly basis and what they include. Also make sure there aren't any expected increases on the horizon. A qualified Real Estate Agent can help you determine this.
There may also be restrictions on what you can and can't do in your condominium - so make sure you ask for the rules and regulations in the Status Certificate to make sure you can live with what you are buying. It's a good idea to also have your lawyer review this information. Knowledgable Real Estate Agents will be aware of these restrictions, but that last word is always in the Status Certificate.
Remember, you are not just buying a home, but also into a community.
Know What To Look For...
Important considerations when buying a condo:
- Recreation facilities
- Pet policies
- Outdoor space
- Noise levels
- Condo Management
- Condo Financial status
Selecting An Agent...
Be sure to select an Agent that understands and knows condominiums and townhomes because they are different than freehold homes. Also Agents that specialize in condominiums and townhomes generally have a good database of potential Sellers which can allow them to make a quick match for you - sometimes even before a property is listed.
Working With One Agent...
Some people think they can increase their chances of finding the best property if they get several Agents looking for them. Actually, you will probably not get as good service if you decide to work with more than one Agent. No Agent will be prepared to dedicate the time required to find you the best property if you are not prepared to be loyal in return. Find an Agent that you like and are comfortable with and stay with them - that's the Agent that will work the hardest to find you the best property.