Condominiums are a great housing option for a number of different reasons. Whether you are attracted to the prospective amenities, low maintenance lifestyle, or turn-key and go options, condos have steadily increased in popularity over the years. While you may be ready to make the purchase, there are some things to consider which differ from a traditional home purchase. Below is a list of the top 5 things you need to know before buying a condominium.
Condos come in many different formats, ranging from apartment style units in high rise buildings to free standing single family homes. Depending on your wants, needs and lifestyle, different condominiums styles will suit different buyers. Here is a glimpse at some of the most popular condo styles available.
Low, Mid- and High-Rise, Apartment:
These condo units are found in either low-, mid- or high-rise residential buildings. Many times, these units present much like an apartment and are single level with patios or balconies. Depending on the building, there are a wide range of floor-plans and layout options.
Attached condos are a popular style and are found within designated condominium communities. Units within attached communities will share at least one adjoining wall with another unit. Condos are varied in layout and style and many times can include garages, backyards, and patios. Homes can be one- to three-levels depending on the community.
Loft condos are generally found within old, converted industrial buildings. These styles are popular and trendy and seem to be concentrated in urban neighborhoods in large cities. Lofts are attractive for their wide open layouts, high ceilings and large windows.
A penthouse condo is most commonly found in a high-rise building and occupies the upper floors of the community. These expansive units generally span the entire floor and offer the utmost in luxury and exclusivity. Many times buyers will find many bedrooms and bathrooms along with bonus rooms, multiple balcones and outdoor gardens. Luxury buildings may also have penthouses that feature private pools, hot tubs and more.
Detached condos are often mistaken for single family detached homes, and though structurally they may be the same, the difference lies in ownership. Most commonly found in suburban neighborhoods, detached condo communities offer a variety of housing styles, though fairly common are a traditional bungalow or one-level home. These communities offer much of the same benefits of other styles which include common area, maintenance and more.
When buying a condo, you will want to take into consideration the monthly condo fees. w. Depending on your condo corporation, these fees can be rather significant and can quickly change your overall budget.
Though an additional expense, condo fees do provide a handful of perks. Some of the features included could be fitness centers, party rooms, lawn maintenance, snow removal, additional security, and more. You also will want to inquire if there are any scheduled increases, and if so, how much.
If buying a resale rather than brand new, you will want to ensure there is enough money in the reserve fund to date. This can help you determine the financial health of the corporation; the better they are financially, the lower your condo fees may be.
A reverse fund is the condo corporations money set aside for major repairs such as new roofs, heating, plumbing and electrical. Buying into a condominium that isn’t financially stable may not be the best investment for you. If a major repair is needed, you want to have the security of knowing everything will be ok. Knowing those big repairs that are sometimes needed will be taken care of can reduce a buyer’s stress level.
Condo Unit Exposure
Not everyone considers this when looking at your potentially new condo, but it is easily as important as some of the other factors you will be taking into consideration before purchasing. Knowing what direction your balcony faces can help determine how much natural sunlight your new condo might give you. Natural sunlight can help you save money on hydro and use less heat in those cold winter months.
Did you know that direct eastern exposure (sunrise) can warm a suite significantly for a period of time? This may sound great during the winter months, however, come summer the additional heat may translate into higher A/C bills.
If you are looking at a condo that offers you a northern exposure balcony, you will have almost no direct sunlight for over half the year. No natural sunlight means more lights on during the day and higher thermostat temperature to keep you warm.
However, there is an option that will make most people happy and this is the southwestern exposure. You get the best of both worlds! Plenty of natural sunlight without too much heat, meaning no need to crank the thermostat during the winter or the A/C during the summer.
Location plays an important role in any real estate purchase. Which area of the city is best suitable will depend on a few different factors such as work, schools, accessibility, and lifestyle.
Condos, especially, apartment or townhome style communities, are typically found in more urban settings as they take up less space than traditional, free standing properties. So if you are wanting to live in the suburbs, it may be more difficult to find a condo community. That being said, in smaller towns and cities, there is an increased popularity of free standing condos, which for all intents and purposes appear as single family detached homes, however ownership style is inline with condominiums.
Regardless of the style of condominium best suits your life, you will want to consider your lifestyle. Do you have children? Is there a specific school you want them to attend? Do you want to be close to work? Do you drive, or rely on public transit? All these questions are important to answer before setting your heart on a particular building.
Condo Rules and Regulations
Usually, when people buy their home, one huge benefit that comes along with it is having the freedom to do whatever you please when you move in. Buying a condo, however, doesn’t always allow for this luxury
Depending on the style of condo, there can be a handful of different rules and regulations in place. Some common rules include restrictions on animals, renovations, outdoor decorations, fencing, and pools. If you have plans for a total makeover or even a small reno, it would be prudent to thoroughly review the rules and restrictions.
Purchasing real estate is a big decision and regardless of ownership style, should be done so with considerable thought and research. Though condos are a popular real estate option, they do present a handful of unique differences. As such, a little extra time and a few extra questions will go a long way when getting ready to purchase a condo, and could potentially save you from issues or costly problems in the future!