Buying a Condo in Calgary
What quetions do you need to ask before buying a condo in Calgary?
Condominiums can be very confusing. Since I have been a realtor in Calgary over the past decade, I am amazed at how many people actually don’t trully understand what a condominium is. I hear all sorts of things. It’s a highrise, it’s an apartment, it’s a townhouse, it’s a one bedroom apartment. Well in fact it can be all of these and more. What is a condominium? Well it’s form of ownership. A single family home could be a condominium. The word condominium comes from the latin “con” meaning jointlyand “dominium” meaning ownership.
Condominiums are managed by a management company or they can be privatly managed by the owners themselves. The owners are charged a monthly fee for any services or amenities associated with the condo. The services are generally snow removal, grass cutting, some have window cleaning and outside maintenance. Some condo fees even include heat and electricity. Also included in these fees are reserve fund contributions.
The owner of the condominium owns the inside of the condo, and the outside is the common land owned by the corporation and enjoyed by everyone. Unless you own a bareland condo, in this case the land itself is the condo. A bareland condo can be just like a regular home, it can be single family detached home, or it can be a townhouse, a half duplex. You still pay a condo fee. You do get your snow removal and grass cuttig, but with some bareland condos the owner is reposnsible for the outside maintenance.
A very important factor for the condo owner is the Reserve Fund. What is a Reserve Fund? The Reserve Fund is a fund that is there to cover any expenses due to maintance of your condo, or in fact any other condo in the complex. If the roof is leaking, or the fence is falling down, whatever doesn’t matter whose apartment, or home is having the problem the Reserve Fund pays.
What happens if there is not enough money in the reseve fund? Well then the owners all have to vote on what to do. Unsually a special assessment is needed. What is a Special Assessment? It’s an additional fund paid by each individual owner of the complex when there isn’t enough money in the Reserve Fund. The fee is paid either annually or monthly, or sometimes twice yearly. It all depends on what money the condo board needs as to how high the fee will be.
Condos can be great. But they can be a minefield. You need to do your homework. When you put an offer in to buy a condo, you make sure to check out the condo documents, to make sure that everything is how it should be. Never sign off on a condo before you do this.
My advice to anyone buying a condo. Is never buy a condo without having your real estate professsional by your side.