It pays to ask yourself the right questions before you buy. To make sure you’re making a clear, informed decision, here are some things to consider.
Analyze the condo fees and the reserve fund
Every month, condo unit owners have to pay condo fees. These fees go towards a fund that is used to cover expenses related to building maintenance and management, such as snow removal, landscaping and repairs. It’s important to know how much the monthly fees for these expenses will be, because they’ll have a significant impact on your budget.
Reserve funds are used to cover the cost of major renovations to shared spaces in the condo. By law, 5% of the condo fees must go towards this fund. It’s important to check on how the reserve fund is doing. If the building’s roof needed to be replaced shortly after you moved in, would the reserve fund be able to cover the repairs or would you have to pay thousands of dollars? Finding out the health of the reserve fund can help you avoid nasty surprises.
Look at the various fees
Various mandatory fees are added to the purchase price of your condo and the cost of potential repairs. Municipal taxes, a “welcome tax”, inspection costs and notary fees will catch up with you, so you’ll need to budget for them.
Also, if the condo is located in downtown Quebec City or Montreal and doesn’t have a parking space, you may need to find your own parking space. This will be an additional expense to take into consideration before buying the condo.
Calculate the cost of renovations
Have you found a perfect condo that’s move-in ready? Congratulations! Or have you found a diamond in the rough that needs a little love and maybe a new bathroom or a balcony renovation before you can move in? Calculate how much these renovations could cost before you put in an offer.
If major renovations are necessary, you may have to spend a lot of money. You might have to spread the work out over a few months. Do you have the money you’d need for renovations? Would you have to hire professionals or can you do the work yourself?
Asking yourself these questions will help you determine whether you’re looking at a realistic project or if you should look for a home that more closely matches your tastes and your needs.
Read the condo rules
Whether you’re allowed to have a pet, use a BBQ on the balcony or invite friends and family to the communal pool are a few examples of rules that may have a direct impact on your daily life and your lifestyle. Read the rules to make sure they meet your needs.
Check out the neighbourhood
If you don’t already live in the neighbourhood, take the time to get the lay of the land. Check out businesses that are close by and identify points of service and parks. Take a walk around during the day and the evening so you can get a good idea of what’s it’s like at different times of day.
Meet the neighbours
If you see a neighbour when visiting the condo, go over and say hi. Interacting with people in the building or who live close by will give you a good idea of what living in the neighbourhood is really like, especially if social interaction is important to you. Are they friendly or stand-offish?
By talking to them, you can learn the pros (or cons) of the neighbourhood. You can’t pick your neighbours, but it may be a good idea to test the waters and get a feel for the neighbourhood’s vibe before you buy.
Find out how the condo is managed
Reading the minutes of the last few condo board meetings will tell you a lot about how the building has been managed over the last few years and agreements among the various condo owners.
Get a home inspection
To avoid any nasty surprises, it’s important to have your condo unit inspected before you buy. Be sure to use a qualified inspector.
Make sure you have the right home insurance
Found the condo of your dreams? Now it’s time to contact your insurance company to get home insurance that meets your needs.
In addition to liability coverage, you also need insurance to protect your belongings in case of damages, as well as any improvements to your condo unit and the condo’s shared spaces. You may also want to add additional coverage for things like water damage or sewer backup. Your insurance agent will be able to advise you and offer you coverage that meets your specific situation.
We hope you’ve found this information useful and that it helps you find the condo of your dreams!