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Condo Ownership Pitfalls: 5 Traps You Might Face

Today we are going to take a look at condo ownership pitfalls that you might encounter.

We are a team of highly experienced real estate agents and we would love to share our expertise with you.

In this post we’ll be looking at the possible disadvantages of condo ownership to help you better decide if it is the best choice for you. So let’s get started.

Condo Ownership Pitfalls: find out what to look out for

Condo Ownership

When you purchase a condominium you are purchasing the space inside the interior walls of a condominium building. This includes the floors and ceilings that make up your individual unit. You also jointly own an interest in the common areas of the facility which could include areas such as:

  • The land
  • The lobby and common hallways
  • Swimming pool and gym
  • Common meeting rooms
  • Grounds and parking lot

Condominium complexes often resemble apartment buildings, however more builders are now constructing condos that are townhouses which are attached to one or more houses.

With the ever rising costs of single dwelling homes, the lower cost of purchasing a condominium make them an extremely attractive alternative to renting. For first-time buyers, condominium’s are a great choice if you are looking to enter into the housing market. They are also a great choice if you are looking to downsize or invest in a rental property.

With a condo purchase you own a joint interest in the common areas

Condo Ownership Pitfalls

There are some condo ownership pitfalls that you should be aware of before choosing to purchase.

Condo Ownership Pitfalls: #1. You Will Be Required to Pay Monthly Condo Fees

When you purchase a condo, you will be required to pay a monthly condo fee that is in addition to any mortgage payment you will be making. Each condo community is different and their fees cover different things, so it is important that you find out ahead of time what these fees include. Condo fees will often include things such as:

  • Lawn maintenance, landscaping, and snow removal
  • Water and sewer services
  • Road maintenance and garbage pickup
  • Heat and electric
  • Use and upkeep of common areas
  • A reserved parking spot – parking outside or in a covered garage
  • Additional parking for your guests 
  • Storage space

Even though some of your condo fees will go into a pool to cover larger repairs in the future such as replacing the roof on your building, you may find that you have to pay a special assessment for an unexpected repair that wasn’t calculated into your monthly fees. Special assessments are more common in older condo buildings, those built before 2001. This is because reserve fund studies were not mandatory  and therefore some condo boards did not build up enough reserve funds in their calculations to account for major repairs. Due to the new requirements laid out by the Ontario Condominium Act, special assessments are less frequent in newer condo buildings.

It is a good idea to do some research on the condo board before you purchase to see if they have a good record. You could also ask the current owners in the building to see if they are happy with the management.

Your condo fees cover the use and upkeep of facilities such as a gym

Advantages of paying monthly fees:

Some people consider condo fees as a disadvantage whereas others see it as an advantage. This is because:

  • You don’t have to worry about doing yard work or shovelling snow
  • You are paying a predictable amount that goes towards covering larger repairs in the future so you don’t have to worry about a huge unexpected maintenance bill
  • Some of your utilities may already be included in your fees
  • You have access to some great on-site facilities such as a pool, gym, or sauna that you wouldn’t have in a single dwelling home

The nice thing about your fees is that they are a set amount, this way your monthly fees will be consistent.

One of the great advantages of paying condo fees is you don't have to shovel snow

Condo Ownership Pitfalls: #2. You May Be Limited to What You Can Customize

Unlike a single dwelling home where you have a free rein with decorating or renovating, you may find that you are restricted to what you can and can’t customize in your condo. Condominiums often have rules in place that would stop you from changing the appearance of the exterior of your condo. For example, you may not be able to paint your outside door any colour your choose or there may be guidelines about the types and colours of window treatments you can install.

Customization restrictions can help maintain the value of your condo.

Customization restrictions are often in place to protect the value of your property. If one unit owner chooses to paint their door an outlandish colour, it may take away from the overall look of the property and make it a less desirable choice for buyers

Condos usually have restrictions about making changes to the exterior of your unit

Condo Ownership Pitfalls: #3. You Might Feel Like You Have a Lack of Privacy

Living in a condo means that you will be living in very close proximity to other people. You may feel like you don’t have as much privacy as you would if you were living in a house. You may also find that the noise levels are higher while having common walls with your neighbours.

Advantages of living in close proximity to many other people.

Social Opportunities: If you enjoy being around people and like to be social, then you may see this as an advantage. If you choose a condominium building that has a demographic and social structure that suits yours then it could be a great choice.

Some condos for example are geared to seniors and offer social, entertainment and recreational activities that are suited to their lifestyle. Others are located in the heart of a city and offer a lifestyle that is geared towards singles or younger individuals.

Peace of mind: Another advantage of having more people around is the extra security and peace of mind that it can give you when you are not there. If you go on vacation, for example, your neighbours will be close by in case anything happens.

If you like being social then living close to others in a condo will be a plus

Condo Ownership Pitfalls: #4. You May Find Your Condo Difficult to Sell

Because condos in the same building can be quite similar, it might be harder to sell yours. Especially if there are several others of the same quality and price as yours for sale at the same time. You may want to wait until there are few or no other condos for sale in your building before you put yours on the market.

The number of condos in your area, especially in other buildings that are similar to yours can also affect how quickly you sell. This won’t have as big of an effect as condos for sale in your own building do because your condo layout and look will be different, however it still can have some effect.

If your condo has higher monthly fees than similar condos in other buildings, it may also make it harder to sell. Having said that, condos are still a very attractive purchase for a wide variety of buyers including:

  • First-time home buyers
  • Investors
  • Empty nesters
  • People downsizing
  • Seniors who don’t want outdoor maintenance
  • Busy professionals

The relatively lower price of a condo as compared to a single family dwelling in most areas still makes it a very marketable property.

A condo is a great choice for a first time home buyer

Condo Ownership Pitfalls: #5. You May Have Limited Parking

Not all condos come with parking, especially if the condo is located in a large downtown core such a Toronto. Usually parking only comes with larger condo units with two or more bedrooms. If you can’t afford a larger unit, then you could look into renting a parking spot from another owner in the building or paying for monthly parking in a nearby public lot.

If you are buying a condo in a smaller urban area such as Kitchener and Waterloo, you will often be able to find a condo with a parking space. Some buildings also offer indoor parking and have a number of dedicated spaces for visitor parking as well.

Some condos offer indoor underground parking

Buying a Condo? Trust the Experts at Real Condo Experts to Help

Wanting to buy a condo? We’re here to help. A condo is a great way to get into home ownership. If you are looking to buy a condo, contact the experts at Real Condo Experts. 

We are a team of highly experienced real estate professionals who specialize in helping our customers buy and sell condos in Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge, Guelph, Woodstock, and Stratford. 

We can help you find your perfect home or investment property. Contact us today to start your search.

Real Condo Experts Customers Reviews
Jodi Purdie helped my parents sell our home in the tri- cities and she was knowledgeable, trustworthy and honest. She helped and supported them through the whole process and did everything in her power to make everything run smoothly. The house sold very fast! Exactly what was needed. I would recommend her to anyone who is looking to buy or sell a house. We will definitely be using her again in the future! Thanks Jodi and Darrin Bartels
I would highly recommend Jason. He isn’t pushy, gives good input and is highly knowledgeable. Jason sold our home quickly and helped us buy a great new home in an awesome location on a court by schools and park with a short close and a great price. Jason’s team is also great too and helped us sort out a few wrinkles with the information flow between the bank and lawyers.