Ask a condo owner why they chose condominium ownership and you will likely hear about the advantages of the "condominium lifestyle". Let's take a closer look at this lifestyle to see why it works well for some people and not so well for others.
Many associate the word condominium with apartment style buildings that usually include some extra ammenities like a pool, games room, fitness areas and more.
In reality, a condominium is a form of property ownership that is based on the principle of shared ownership and shared responsibility. When you purchase a condominium you are purchasing ownership in a unit or suite, and a shared right to the building and walls that surround all the units in the development. You are also purchasing a shared ownership and responsibility in the common grounds and amenities that make up the development. The areas of a condominium that each unit owner shares ownership and responsibility of are known as common elements.
The condominium ownership model can be applied to many different building types. In Oakville there are condominium apartments, townhomes, bungalows and even semi-detached homes!
The common elements would typically include everything in the complex except the units themselves. These items would include: common walls, building structural components, land and surrounding grounds, landscaping, elevators, pool, clubhouse etc.
The importance of understanding if something is part of a unit or common elements resides with who has responsibility over the item. Items that are part of the common elements are the responsibility of the condominium corporation. If a pool malfunctions that the condominium corporation has jurisdiction over, the repair would be an corporation expense.
The monthly condominium fee (sometimes referred to as the maintenance fee) covers the upkeep of the common elements and is used to build up a reserve fund. The condominium act requires condo corporations to establish a reserve fund to cover the major repair and replacement of the common elements and assets of the condominium. Sometimes, the condo fee will also include utilities such as water, heat and hydro. When comparing the condo fees between different developments, it is important to understand what is included in that fee.
Affordability: While condominiums have a wide price range, the lower range is often within the budget of first-time buyers and singles who may find single-family houses unaffordable.
Amenities: Many condo properties offer a range of amenities such as swimming pools, fitness centres, and other facilities that would be very expensive in a single-family home.
Equity: As opposed to renting, condo ownership allows owner to build equity.
Security: Having neighbors around makes it a lot easier to lock up and leave for a vacation or an extended period of time. Also, condominium buildings often have security features, such as controlled or a guard service. This is particularly helpful if this is your second home, and you are only there for part of the year.
Low Maintenance: No more backaches from mowing the lawn or shoveling snow. Condo living means someone else takes care of the plumbing problems or roof maintenance for you. There may be some cases - if it's your fault - where you will have to pay.
Location: There is often a high concentration of condominiums in downtown locations where land is at a premium. If you want to be in the heart of the city, a condominium may be a good choice.
Condominium Association: Every unit owner is a member of the condo association, which also has an elected board. The association serves to enforce bylaws, handles maintenance and repair issues, and deals with disputes with developers or between unit owners.
Condominium Community: Many condominiums have a built-in community feel with planned social events.
Fees: Monthly condo fees go toward maintenance and repair of the common areas. There are occasionally additional assessment fees to handle larger repair jobs. Your fees may also be paying for amenities, such as a swimming pool, that you may not use.
Rules: Condos are governed by a set of rules called By-Laws. This can include restrictions on noise levels, pet ownership, renovations, and even what kind of curtains you can put in your windows.
No Room to Grow: You cannot add additional space to your condo unit (unless you purchase a unit beside, above or below your unit)
Community Living: Shared walls and common areas mean that you are more likely to hear your neighbors or run into them more often. Also, as part of the homeowner's association, you will have to coordinate with neighbors to come to decisions regarding the common areas.
Condominium Association: Because the condo association is made up of homeowners rather than property-management professionals, the association may be weak and inefficient. When the condo association or the management company does not do a good job of managing the building, it is reflected in higher condo fees that you will be required to pay Also, if you want to make renovations to your unit or rent your unit out, you may have to get approval from the condo association.
Condominium Community: You're much closer to your neighbors in a condo apartment or town home. Look at profile of other owners be sure you'll be comfortable. If possible, try to meet your closest prospective neighbors.
Repairs: You have less control over when building items need to be repaired (for example: the roof, windows, elevator, etc.)
There are many things to consider when deciding if the condo lifestyle will suit your needs. If you have any questions about condo living please do not hesitate to contact me.