Looking at potential homes to buy can be an exciting experience.
First, you need to figure out what you can afford and how much of a mortgage you’ll need.
Then, once you find a condominium that matches your financial and personal criteria, you’ll want to ensure that it’s well managed and in good physical, financial and legal condition.
There are significant distinctions between buying a new condominium and a previously owned, or resale, unit.
This section highlights what you need to look for, whichever route you choose.
It will also tell you how buying a condominium differs from purchasing a “fee simple” home and help you determine what you can afford and which experts to consult.
Buying a New Condominium
Developers often put new condominiums up for sale before their construction has been completed or even begun.
You may be selecting your unit from a floor plan.
This has advantages you may be able to ask for changes and risks the as-built result may differ from the plan or what you had envisioned and the completion date could be later than promised.
When considering a new condominium, you should have a close look at your unit’s specifications and the building’s plan, and other governing documents to ensure that your unit is acceptable and that you’re fully aware of regulations and the corporation’s budget.
You’ll want to find out from the developer what work must still be done on the project and check that your purchase agreement specifies a completion date and under what conditions the developer may change it. The developer should also be able to give you details about the property manager who will hold the key responsibility for the day-to-day running of the condominium.
For more information on what to look for when buying a new unit, see Tips for buying a new condominium.
Buying a Resale Condominium
When you purchase a resale unit you have the advantage of seeing what you’re buying.
It’s clear how much space you’ll have, what the layout is like, and where the common elements are.
But you’ll also want to find out about less obvious aspects, such as what steps have been taken to limit noise between units and how odors are controlled.
On the financial and legal side, you should review the corporation’s annual operating budget, financial statements, and estoppel or status certificate.
The status certificate is a package of legal documents that may include the declaration, bylaws, rules, and information about the corporation’s insurance, reserve fund, property management contract, and any outstanding judgments.
You may have to pay a fee to cover the corporation's costs of providing these documents, but it will be well worth it — so much so that you should make an offer to purchase conditional on a satisfactory review of these documents.
For more information on what to look for when buying a resale unit, see Tips for buying a resale condominium.