So you are looking to buy a condo. Well, first of all, congratulations on your choice, as condos not only represent a home but also represent a self-contained and well-appointed lifestyle. However, buying a condo can be a challenging task even for those who have previously bought real estate due to its complicated nature of ownership.

So here we have put together top five things that you should know before buying a condo:

1) Condo Fees:

One of the major reasons people buy condos is for the lifestyle choice it offers. A condo complex is more often than not filled with amenities. It comes with a wide range of amenities like a gym, swimming pool and guest suites, etc. While buyers may be under the impression that lower the fees the better, this isn’t the case always. The condo fees should be compared to the facilities and the amenities that it has to offer and not against other condos. Naturally more amenities mean more fees for its upkeep. So buyers must not always keep an eye out for condos that charge low fees.

More importantly, it should also be noted that lower fees would result in poorer upkeep of facilities. This would be counterproductive, as the whole point of owning a condo comes down to the lifestyle and amenities it offers. So buyers must be wary about condo fees and how it is spent before you target which condo to buy.

2) Common Area Utility and Maintenance:

This is another aspect that must be explored by prospective condo buyers. Condo buyers must be aware that the complex will come with shared space such as hallways, lobby/concierge, guest suites, gyms and swimming pools. These utilities must be shared by all residents in the condo complex and everyone must share responsibility in preserving and maintaining them. Owners must be extra cautious when bringing over guests or family to use these amenities are they are not the sole owners. Many people also find it difficult to share such spaces as it affects their privacy. These people should not consider buying a condo in that case.

Before making an offer, buyers must also inspect the facilities and find out how they are maintained. This would give a clear picture about how active and cooperative the society is and how much they care about maintaining common shared amenities. Naturally, shoddy maintenance can indicate a lack of care or unity among residents, poor management or that a high percentage of the condos in the complex are being rented, as renters tend to be less concerned about repair and upkeep, as they don’t own the property themselves. Do proper research on how well that building is maintained to avoid future disappointments.

3) Condo Rules:

As mentioned earlier, unlike a townhouse or a villa, a condo doesn’t represent whole ownership of the property. Residents would have to share common areas and amenities. There is always the possibility of noisy neighbours and loud music. So people who value privacy must think twice before looking to buy a condo. However living in a tight unit and sharing space may also bring great unity among residents.

Buyers must also look into the rules laid out by the condo residents and management before buying it. The condo rules may have some conditions that you may find objectionable and may also end up being a deal breaker. For example there may be a no-pets policy or a curfew on loud music and parties after late night. If these might bother you then you may have to look elsewhere. Breaking condo rules after moving in can make things very uncomfortable as you may have face flak from the faces that you have to see every day. So make sure you go through the rules or have your real estate agent look them up for you.

4) Management:

Many condo complexes are run and maintained by companies, which specialize in maintaining properties. Sometimes these companies turn out to be an extended arm of the property developer. In some instances residents of the society form an association and decide against hiring a manager and take things into their own hands. However, in most cases a condo complex will have a condo manager who is fully responsible for the management of the complex. It would be a great idea to chat with the condo manager as well so that you can find out more about how management works and more about the society. Naturally you don’t want to end up in a poorly run condo complex.

Self-managed condo complexes can be great, as this means that the residents would pitch in to manage different aspects of the complex, after coming to a consensus. This would mean that the condo fees are naturally going to be lower. This can also be a bad thing as the complex is not professionally managed by someone who has had experience doing this. Moreover, if you plan to move into a self-managed society, do note that you will be expected to contribute a portion of your time as well towards maintaining the community. Do think over if you do want to take up this additional responsibility before you move in.

5) Insurance:

An important thing to check with your real estate agent is if the condo property has an Insurance Policy. If it does, what does it cover? Not only does this give you security but also lets you know about what you should be covering with your personal Insurance. Most often condos will be insured for property damage to the complex and its common areas and facilities. It can also cover any third party liability that can arise from someone entering the complex. It is extremely unlikely that the Insurance would include the properties of the residents as well. This can help you in determining what you can exclude and include in your personal homeowners Insurance Policy, so as to avoid an overlap in coverage or conflict of interest.

Condos represent a ritzy lifestyle with a close knit group of families, so always ensure that it is well-aligned with your interests in life and with your philosophies. And hiring a real-estate realtor who is well-versed with the various condos in the neighborhood and their respective amenities is the definite first step that you ought to take so that you can live in peace and harmony in your ‘dream condo’!