TOP 10 EDITION: Important Things to Think About When Purchasing a Condo
The condo market is getting pretty crazy out there right now, and it’s important not to settle for something just because you’ve put three offers in on a place and lost. Here are our top 10 important things to consider when purchasing a condo:
Special Levies/Assessments –
Are there any big bills or special levies in the near future, and if so, do you have money to cover them? The Form B document you receive with the strata documents should mention whether there are any approved; however, it is important to read through the minutes and the depreciation report to see if there is anything major being discussed for the near future. If there isn’t enough money in the contingency reserve fund for maintenance and updates, then you’ll be paying personally along with all of the other owners in the building.
Not all condos in the Greater Vancouver area have parking, and we’ve seen builders in the area charge $25,000 for a stall! If you’re buying a presale unit, make sure to ask if there is parking included and if not, how much a stall will cost. If it’s a resale, check the Form B and it will tell you how many parking stalls are allocated to the unit, if any. Some other parking related things you may want to think about is if there is visitor parking underground or on the street.
Quality of Construction –
There are good condos and there are bad condos… you always want to buy a good condo of course. However, it’s not always visible to the eye, which is why it’s important to have an inspector through to assess the unit and building. You might pay more upfront for a good quality building, but in the long run you’ll save money by avoiding significantly increased maintenance fees, and special levies. A good quality building will also be better when it comes to resale values. Quality of construction can also help to reduce noise levels, especially in a low rise wood frame building.
Condos built in the late 80s and early to mid 90s are notorious for being leaky condos. Make sure you check to see if the building has already been rainscreened, and if not, when they plan on doing so and if they have the funds.
How is the strata/property management company? Are they difficult to get ahold of? Does it look like they are proactive? Are they self managed or did they hire a company for property management? Well managed buildings hold their value better, and are certainly much more pleasant to live in. Take some serious time to sit down with the minutes and get a feel for how in control and on top of things the management company is.
Location & Access to Amenities –
Location! Location! Location! How does your condo sum up when it comes to location? Does it have easy access to a highway? It is close to amenities, like restaurants, grocery stores, and shops? Are you near a bus stop or some form of transportation? Things like this will help when it comes to resale value, and will also most likely make your life a lot easier and fun!
Condos are small enough on their own (well, in comparison to town homes and detached homes) so having a lack of storage isn’t always the easiest thing for a lot of people. Walk in closets and storage lockers are always fantastic pros when it comes to condos. Check for the depth of the closets in the unit. Is there a linen closet? Is there space beside the washer and dryer for cleaning supplies, or is it a tight closed space? Is there enough cabinet space in the kitchen? Also take a hard look at whether you can purge some of your stuff (like those magazines from 4 years ago…) and assess what you really need to take with you when you move.
Building Appearance and Maintenance –
A lot can be said just by looking at the exterior or the building and the common areas. Do they appear well maintained? The strata minutes will also tell you a great deal about what has been done in the past, along with what is expected for the future.
Owner Occupiers and Tenant Ratios –
Are there rental restrictions in the building you’re thinking of purchasing? If there are, how many rentals maximum are allowed? If you’re buying a condo to live in it, you probably don’t want a mainly tenanted building because they’re typically noisier. Generally speaking, the higher amount of owner occupiers, the better maintained the building. Why? The owners are concerned about the maintenance of the building and it’s common areas as it’s their money that’s flying out the window if something major needs to be replaced. The strata documents, specifically the Form B, will usually tell you the answer to the rental restrictions in the building, and how many units are currently being rented.
Unattractive Features (Generally) –
Just like detached homes and town homes, there are some more attractive features and in turn unattractive features about condos. Typically, ground floor units have a lesser resale value than upper units, penthouse, and corner units. Something to watch out for with ground floor units as well is whether or not they can be accessed from the street or if they are fully fenced with no access. Is there a patio for the unit or not? Is there lots of natural lighting and big windows, or is it dark and have smaller windows? Is there a nice view or are you looking at a construction zone or commercial area? There are a lot of things to think about, and while you can’t always be too picky, these are some examples.
So there you have it – that’s our top 10 edition of things to consider when purchasing a condo in the Greater Vancouver area. If you are thinking of purchasing and have questions about the market, or a particular unit, building, or area then give us a call at 604-765-0736. Prefer text? 604-319-0200. Or email email@example.com. Happy house hunting !
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