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Five things first time condo buyers should be aware of

vancouver condos

Whatever the type of home you’re thinking of getting into, you’ve heard it before: it will probably be the largest single purchase of your life. Condos in particular have their own set of quirks that buyers should be aware of before taking the big plunge. Here are five common ones to look out for.

How much are you really paying?

Beyond the actual price of the unit, there will be other costs involved, namely monthly strata fees that are used by the strata corporation to pay for the common running expenses — the exact amount is determined by dividing expenses by the size of your lot (these appreciate a little every year). Don’t forget to also factor in property taxes, home insurance and any owner-responsible maintenance.

Does it fit your lifestyle?

Apartments and condos all have different sets of rules and bylaws, which definitely warrant examination beforehand. Some do not allow pets, for instance, so if you have a furry friend or plans to adopt down the line, it is a factor to consider. Do you own a car, and if so how many? Certain new developments no longer include a parking stall. How much “stuff” will you be moving in? If it’s a lot, check to see if storage and bicycle lockers are available.

What’s the plan down the road?

Not to sound like a job interview, but where do you see yourself in five years? Perhaps moving into another phase of life, and thus, a bigger place? Depending on the strata, rental units may or may not be allowed. This can affect future investment or resale potential.

Used or new?

Whether purchasing a presale or resale, both have their own set of pros and cons. The former allows a deposit to be placed and then a little breathing room to save for the eventual down payment. However, there are often delays, and the finished product may not appear exactly as the showroom. With the latter, you pretty much know exactly what you’re getting. If it’s older, though, some renovations may be needed and the building may be due for repairs.

Have you done your homework?

Just as when shopping for a used car, buying into an existing property warrants doing the research. Request and comb through copies of general and strata council meeting minutes dating back at least two years, looking for red flags like water damage. If found, note whether the damage was caused by structural or user error — you can find out by also asking for a copy of the strata insurance policy and identifying previous claims and losses.

By Benjamin Yong

November 28, 2017

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