"About Condo's" Things you really want to know before buying.

A traditional condominium corporation "Condo" consists of individual units (apartments or town-homes) and common elements.

Some examples of common elements are: Elevator(s), hallways, walkways and driveways, parking lot, party room, fitness facilities, lobby, external wall, entryways, windows. (Will vary with each corporation.)

Fees:

Obviously there are costs to maintaining the common elements. Monthly, fees are collected from each unit owner to meet the ongoing operational costs of the property and to build a Reserve Fund for future repair or replacement of the infrastructure (common elements).

Fees are typically allocated to each unit on a proportional basis, i.e. the total area of the individual units is computed and then the costs (for common elements maintenance plus Reserve Fund Contributions) are apportioned based upon each unit's size relative to the total.

Typically included in Condo Fees:
· Building insurance
· Cleaning & maintenance of common areas
· Property Management fees
· Water
· Landscaping
· Snow clearing

Sometimes included in Condo Fees:
· Heat
· Cable TV
· Electricity

Typically Excluded from Condo Fees (i.e. these are the direct responsibility of Unit Owners)
· Unit Property Taxes
· Contents insurance
· Maintenance of all aspects of the Unit's interior (e.g. plumbing, electrical, painting, renovations...)

NOTE: If a significant expense for the Common Areas arises, for which the Reserves are not properly funded, the Unit Owners are responsible for the cost - typically collected through a one-time Special Assessment.

Some examples of cause/need for a Special Assessment are: Parking Garage overhaul, roof replacement, major driveway repair, major elevator problem...

Benefits/Services:

Again, every Condo is different and so not all services/features are always provided. My experience is that the more services and the bigger the property, the higher the Condo fees.

· Concierge
· Pool
· Fitness Centre
· Party Room
· Guest Suite
· Property Management

Restrictions/Limitations:

The bylaws of the corporation specify any restrictions. As with most other aspects of all Condos every corporation is different and may or may not include the following. Again the following list is not comprehensive.

Common restrictions:
· Pets?
· BBQ?
· Internal renovations
· Exterior paint colours and finishes
· Exterior door style

Buying a Condo:

There are as many reasons for buying a Condo, as there are Condo owners. Some people like the security of a building or close community, while others savour the freedom from chores associated with maintaining their property. Whatever the reason you should understand that all Condominium Corporations are different.

In most instances a Real Estate Agent will be able to provide you with information regarding the property's annual taxes, cost of utilities and features included in the property.

In addition to the information that your Agent can provide there is also a Status Certificate that can be requested from the Property Manger (a requirement of the Provincial Condominium Act), for a fee. This report will include a set of financial statements, a report from the auditor, a copy of the By-Laws and notice of any active or pending significant changes. The Status Certificate plus the Reserve Fund Assessment are very important documents to obtain, and ideally have reviewed by your Lawyer, prior to completing a purchase.

With this information in hand you will be able to make an informed decision about the practical benefits/shortfalls of the unit.

The 'units' are owned individually, with title registered in the appropriate Registry office, whereas the common elements are equally owned by all of the unit owners of the corporation.

A Condominium is managed by an elected Board Of Directors selected from the owners. In some instances The Board will actually provide the management services although it is more common for The Board to contract and oversee a Property Management firm.