Trying to decide between a house (freehold) and a condo (condominium)? Before you make a final decision and sign anything, consider these seven factors first to determine if condo ownership is right for you.
There are two questions you should be asking yourself before deciding to purchase a condo: Do you need a yard and how much space do you need to feel comfortable? If you’re single or don’t plan on having a large family, a condo might be the right decision for you. But if you love to garden or need ample space for the kids to run around, then a home might be the better option.
Do you hate mowing the lawn, planting flowers, cleaning out the gutters, or doing home repairs? If you answered yes, then condo ownership is probably the way to go. Condo owner’s pay common elements fees (aka condo fees), which typically cover the cost of items such as insurance, water, heating (gas), landscaping, gym/pool maintenance, structural repairs, security and administration costs. Some older condominiums also include TV packages within the condo fee. Whereas, almost all newer condos do not, and also do not include electricity costs within the fee.
Condos also come with many luxury amenities that are incorporated into the price. Such services can include fitness centres, tennis courts, game rooms, rock climbing, and even bowling alleys! When you purchase a condo, you get to enjoy all the on-site amenities that are offered, without having to pay any extra membership costs, beyond your monthly fee.
However, keep in mind that condos that have many high maintenance amenities, such as pools, often have condo fees that are higher than condos that do not have such amenities. There is also a risk that as the condominium ages, the cost of maintaining those appealing amenities, begins to become a burden on the condo corporation, which can lead to yearly increases in the condo fees, or special assessments (a one-time payment required from all owners) to cover the cost of maintenance and repairs.
Rules and Requirements
Each condo is run by a Board of Directors, in collaboration with a management company (in most cases), which makes decisions regarding the rules and regulations of the building. Upon the creation of the condo corporation, a set of documents called the Condo Declaration and Condo Rules / By-laws are approved. These documents, unless the board of directors amends them, will determine issues such as if pets are allowed in the building, if smoking is allowed in the common areas, if BBQ’s are allowed on balconies, etc. If you disagree with the rules of your property, then that condo might not be right for you. This is why it is particularly important, if you are placing an offer to purchase a Condo, to have your lawyer review the Status Certificate of the Condo and Unit, to ensure the property is financially and legally sound, and the rules of the condominium are suitable to your lifestyle.
Urban vs. Suburban Lifestyle
If you love the excitement of the city and would love to live in an urban setting, then a condo can help you achieve that dream. Most condos are located in and around city centres and provide easy access to restaurants, grocery stores, parks, employers, and entertainment. So consider your lifestyle wants and needs before jumping into the decision.
If you’re looking to keep your costs low, then a condo can be a great option. The hot real estate market in the Greater Toronto Area, has pushed many buyers out of the housing market, or has left them with a budget that only allows them to afford condo living.
The cost savings associated with Condo living can be significant. Not only will you save on the cost of traditional household repairs such as roofing, windows, furnace, etc., but your utility bills and mortgage payments will likely be lower too.
When it comes to deciding between buying a home or condo, it all comes down to your lifestyle and budget. When you need help making a decision or are ready to make an offer, contact us first at Accord Law. We will ensure that your Agreement of Purchase and Sale is written to protect your interests and that the Status Certificate for the condominium is thoroughly reviewed.