Owning a condo offers many advantages compared to buying a traditional single-family home. But, it also presents some unique challenges that buyers need to be aware of before making the purchase.

Asking the right questions is key to avoiding surprises down the road. Read on to learn the top things you should know when buying a condo.

1. Amenities

Condos offer a less expensive way to buy into homeownership, making them ideal for first-time buyers. They also come with lower property taxes and tend to be more maintenance-free than single-family homes.

When looking for a new condo, it’s important to ask about the amenities offered by the building and HOA. These can include features such as fitness centers, pools and more. However, be aware that these amenities may come at an additional cost to you as a condo owner through higher monthly association fees.

Be sure to find out what’s included in your mortgage and what you’ll have to pay for separately, including amenities like parking, gym memberships and landscaping services. It’s also a good idea to learn about the HOA rules and regulations.

2. Location

Many people choose to live in a condo because it requires less maintenance than a single-family home. For instance, you won’t have to mow the lawn or shovel snow as often as you would if you lived in a traditional home.

The location of your condo is another important factor to consider. You want to find a neighbourhood that is convenient to your work, school or other amenities. It’s also a good idea to consider what future developments are planned for the area. This includes plans for new hospitals, schools and public transportation routes that can help increase the value of your property over time.

If you’re thinking about buying a condo, be sure to talk with a real estate professional who has experience working with these properties. They’ll be able to give you a thorough education about the pros and cons of condo living.

3. Financing

Just like purchasing a single-family home, you will need to secure financing for your condo purchase. Your Real Estate agent can help you find the best mortgage program for your financial situation and needs.

When evaluating a condo, it is important to ask about the condominium rules and restrictions. This includes pet restrictions, noise restrictions and booking guidelines for the common areas.

Also, make sure to research any lawsuits that may have been filed against the condo association or developers. This can help you determine the quality of the management and board.

4. HOA Fees

HOA fees are a common part of condo ownership. They go towards maintenance, amenities and a governing body that enforces rules like noise levels in shared areas or the size of dogs allowed within the community.

Ask for the financial reports of the association and have an accountant or attorney take a look at them. This will help you get a clearer picture of how well the association is being run.

A good, well-run condominium company should normally have a large amount of money saved up in reserve funds. That way, it can pay for major repairs without hitting unit owners with unexpected “assessments.” Ask about regulations on things like pet restrictions, booking procedures and noise levels before you buy. They can make or break your decision to purchase a specific condo.

5. Maintenance

Condos have their advantages and can be a great choice for many people. But they do require a different lifestyle than owning a home. And the hidden costs that come along with condo ownership can quickly add up.

Before you make the final decision to buy, check out the building from top to bottom. Pay special attention to the elevators. How are they able to handle the volume of residents? Try taking them at different times of the day to get a feel for how they function.

Also, be sure to look at the HOA’s books. If the reserve fund is low, you may face unexpected “assessments.” These are huge bills that demand thousands of dollars for unavoidable repairs. This can drastically increase your monthly expenses.

Looking for more real estate advice? Whether you’re looking to buy a condo, mortgage expertise, or investment consulting, contact our team today: 416-885-8345.