|Condominium Living-- Tips
for buyers and owners
If you plan to buy a condominium
It's often said that buying a condominium is buying
a lifestyle. What does that mean?
Condominium living is different from owning or
renting a single dwelling or apartment,
because condos have a dual nature. Condominium
owners hold title to their units and share
responsibility for the operating costs of the
balance of the property (common elements such as
lobbies, pools and hallways) that makes up the condominium.
There are many advantages to condominium ownership.
It may be less expensive than other types of home
ownership. It can provide an "instant" sense of
community. While someone else is shoveling the snow,
you can participate in community decision-making.
But condominiums are not everyone's cup of tea.
Condominium associations may set restrictions on
such things as owning pets, or having an outdoor
Making the fine print clear
Some new condo owners say they don't know what
they're getting when they buy a condominium.
Be sure to read the condominium documents, or better
still, have your attorney read review them. These
documents consists of the Declaration of Trust, the
Master Deed and the Rules and Regulations. Because
these documents consists of 50-100 pages or more,
normally, you won't see a set of them until after
you place a written offer. That's OK. Just make sure
you place a contingency in your offer stating that
it is subject to you and your attorney reviewing
them and being satisfied with what they say. If you
have a pet you want to make sure that they are
allowed or you might have to put Fido or Mittens up
You also want to see a copy of the condo
association's most recent financial statement and
budget to make sure that they have enough funds to
cover expenses without charging a special assessment
to the unit owners.
Purchasers will want to look closely at the types of
facilities and services that are offered. Some
condos do aim to meet the specialized needs of
families with small children, for example, by
providing playgrounds. Others may be built with
seniors in mind. top
How is the condominium run?
The condominium trust is run by a board of trustees
elected by the owners. The board's function is to
manage the condominium complex and association.
Major decisions are voted on at owners' meetings.
Annual general meetings must be held at least once a
year to ensure that unit-owners have an opportunity
to review the financial statements and discuss any
issues in a timely manner. Participation in
community decision-making is a benefit of
A condo trust must maintain a reserve fund for the
sole purpose of paying for major repairs and
replacement of the association's common elements and
assets. Trusts should conduct a reserve fund study
to determine whether the fund will can cover these
costs. Once the study is done, the trustees propose
a plan to ensure the reserve fund is adequate.