For busy professionals or couples without kids, buying a condo instead of a house might seem like a smart idea. Many people very much enjoy condo living. You often get a pool and fitness center, as well as a security team and the opportunity to own a home without having to worry about all the caretaking responsibilities. However, condos can carry significant hidden risks and if you don't do your research, you might end up paying a hefty price. There are important aspects to consider, and it’s important that you go in knowing the right questions to ask.
So, what should you ask your Nanaimo real estate agent, your future neighbors, and the Strata before you buy your condo? Read on for some key questions to ask before you commit to a condo or townhouse.
1. What are the biggest complaints?
What problems are people expressing at the condo board meetings? Get your hands on the minutes from the last two years worth ofmeetings . If the strataisn’t quick about fixes, you want to know about it before you begin to live there.
2. Is there storage space available?
Some condos offer residents personal storage space. Your condo will likely not have an attic or garage (unless you’re in a townhouse), so ask if you’ll be provided any extra space to store bikes, winter skis, and luggage.
3. What does the insurance cover?
Make sure you get a copy of the strata’s insurance policy. Find out exactly what is covered, including the cost to bring the building up to code (if it’s an older building). Also make sure the estimates to rebuild are accurate, and not minimized or outdated.If the policy is confusing, it might be worthwhile to bring a copy to your own insurance agent so you can go over it together.
4. How long will I stay here?
Condos usually appreciate slower than single-family homes. It could take a while for prices to make a profit if you decide to sell. While it’s impossible to predict the future, make sure that you really want to live in this community before you decide to buy.
5. Do I fully understand the monthly strata fees?
Strata fees are calculated based on how many units there are, what it costs to maintain the property (both short and long-term), whether or not the community is professionally or self-managed, and funds set aside for litigation and major repairs.
Get your hands on a breakdown of the monthly dues you’ll be responsible for. Make sure you can truly afford this extra payment, and that you understand what you’re getting for this payment.
You also need to look closely at the contingency Fund. Every strata must put a certain portion of dues aside for major repairs.
Many communities promise their residents “ultra low dues.” Be wary. Although this may seem appealing, chances are it means the community isn’t funding their Contingency Fund like they should; if the roofs end up needing a replacement, you and all the residents could be hit hard with a major bill.
Find out the delinquency rates on monthly dues as well. When other owners fail to pay their monthly dues, this often leaves everyone else holding the bag.
6. What are the rules?
Ask if there are any rules. Does this community allow pets? Can you rent out your unit if you need to? Will you have a chance to plant a bed of flowers?
Buying a condo is no small affair. There are many important aspects to consider that you don’t have to worry about with single family homes. This is why it’s important to go into the process knowing what to look for, and what to ask. Your real estate agent will have all the details about the condos in Nanaimo and can guide you in your search, research and purchase.