A blog cannot deal with all aspects of a subject and is not intended to replace professional advice. It's purpose is to highlight information and identify areas of possible interest. Anyone wishing to discuss this blog or to make any comments or suggestions about this blog is invited to do so by either posting comments or emailing me directly.


Before You Buy a Condominium Property...

  • Find a LOCAL REALTOR® who has a condominium specialist designation. In Calgary, this is an optional upgrade designation for REALTORS®. Condominium real estate transactions are significantly far more complex than freehold property transactions and require additional care and attention to details.
  • In Alberta, condominiums can be apartments, townhouses, 4-plexes, 8-plexes, attached homes, detached homes or even a few acreages just outside the city. All types of property can provide the benefits of condominium ownership. A condominium specialist should be able to spot the tell-tale signs of a well-run condominium corporation and in the case of townhouses, rowhouses, multi-unit properties can easily explain why they are far, far superior to "freehold" townhouses, rowhouses or multi-unit properties.
  • If you are buying a brand new condominium, recognize that the "sales person" in the show suite is an employee of the vendor and CAN NOT represent you in your transaction – they work only for the seller to get them a great deal! Yes, they can work WITH you but they do not work FOR you. You DO have an option to bring your own REALTOR® to negotiate and advocate on your behalf, but ONLY if you bring them to the very first viewing of the property or very first communication with their sales staff.
  • Review the condominium corporation's Board of Directors' minutes for the past 12 months or more, along with the easements, encumbrances and by-laws registered on the property's title, financial statements, operating budget, Annual General Meeting minutes, engineering reports, as well as the 5 and 25-year forecasts for maintenance. Look for past problems, previous repairs, special assessments, and upcoming expenditures. A competant real estate agent will get these documents for you.
  • For the Condominium Corporation's by-laws registered on the property's title, review them for the rules that you are agreeing to abide by should you complete your purchase. Specifically, you should look for pet, age, parking, noise, barbecue or satellite antenna restrictions. In Alberta, only the by-laws registered on the property's title are enforcible and if there are none then Alberta's Condominium Act defines the complete set of by-laws.
  • For the budget and financial statements, review them for your monthly fees and exactly what they are covering. Ultra-low monthly fees should set off alarm bells!
  • Clearly identify what you are buying versus what is common area property. Oftentimes parking and storage units are titled property and must be on your Offer to Purchase – if they are to be included in the purchase price. Many times new projects have marketed the balcony space as living space. Technically it is common area so you are NOT buying that space although it will be exclusive space to the unit. When you're comparing with the resale market, know that resale condos DO NOT include balconies, terraces, storage units or parking stalls in the represented "living area" that you are buying.
  • Ensure a maintenance program is in place by talking to the condominium property manager to determine whether the building has a solid preventative maintenance program in place.
  • Check the Reserve Fund since a portion of condominium owners' monthly fees must go into a "contingency fund" to pay for extraordinary and capital repairs, such as a new roof, exterior painting or repaving the parking lot. Find out if the Reserve Fund is large enough to cover any upcoming expenses – in the short-term and well into the future.
  • Check to ensure the Condominium Corporation has adequate insurance to cover the common areas.
  • Investigate the warranty program and builder's background, whether the condo is new or resale. Your REALTOR® can find out what type of warranty the building carries, noting the limits and duration of coverage. They may also be able to help you obtain background information about the builder/developer of the project.
  • Hire a qualified home inspector with proper accreditation and one who carries errors and omissions insurance to inspect the condition of the condo unit, common areas, and the overall building structure.

    If you're looking for one of the first Certified Condominium Specialists for northwest or southwest Calgary, give me a call.


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