Buying a condo can be an exciting adventure, but it’s important to make sure you’re getting what you want. Here are some questions you should ask yourself and the owner before signing a contract.
28 Questions You Should Ask Before Buying a Condo:
1. What is your total monthly condo fee?
Condos typically charge fees that cover building maintenance, utilities, and amenities such as swimming pools and gyms. Get an idea of what those numbers will be each month to ensure there won’t be any surprises. It’s good to know if the fees include or exclude common areas, as those can increase significantly in size for high-rises with many units. Knowing the exact number also gives you an idea of how much money you’ll have after paying rent each month.
2. Is parking included with the condo?
If not, how much extra do I need to pay per month or day for it?
Locating safe, convenient parking is always important. Parking fees can range from $30-60 per month for covered spots, or, in underground lots to $100 per month or more if you need to rent outdoor space with a fob access code.
3. Is the building close to amenities in Ottawa like shops and public transportation?
Having day-to-day needs within walking distance can save time (and money) that would be spent on fuel.
4. Who pays for water, electricity, and heating/cooling costs?
Check whether utility expenses are paid out of condo fees or if they come off your bill each month, as rules vary depending on the building’s bylaws. If they aren’t included in condo fees, consider how much you will spend on water, electricity, and heating/cooling.
5. What projects are planned for the condo in the next few years?
Many condos do routine maintenance to their buildings well before it is noticeable (such as repainting exterior walls every 5-10 years), but other repairs can be more costly (old windows may need replacement after 10+ years). Ask about what future projects might need to be paid out of the condo fee or if they’ll affect your bottom line.
6. Can you show me a sample monthly statement with past expenses broken down by category?
Ideally, you’ll want a statement that includes breakdowns of previous utility bills, along with any other service fees that have been charged over the last year or two. This helps you understand what your costs in total will be and how it could affect your bottom line.
7. Does the building have a good reputation for repairs and customer service?
If there’s been a history of long wait times for contractors to arrive or considerable time spent on each repair, that can add up to significantly more money from condo fees over the years. It’s better to get an idea of what kind of track record there is before signing on the dotted line.
8. Are there any major issues with the exterior or structure of the building?
Most problems don’t cost much money to fix, but it’s still important to know about them if you plan on living in a place for a long time. So always ask about anything that might affect your enjoyment of the unit or its value.
9. What is the average market price for similar units in the area?
Condo fees and utility costs are typically calculated using a monthly average, so understanding what you can expect to pay will help you budget your future expenses. The more comparables you have, the better idea you’ll have of whether or not there’s room for negotiation on unit prices.
10. Does the sales agreement include an occupancy date?
Some contracts require 30 days’ notice before moving out, but it’s hard to be sure about these rules without reading carefully first. Also, ask about the process if you need to give notice earlier than expected or if some unforeseen circumstance arises that requires immediate termination.
11. What are the penalties for breaking the sales agreement?
Find out what each party is responsible for if you need to cancel or break your purchase contract before taking occupancy. You don’t want surprises after signing on the dotted line!
12. What should I do if something goes wrong with my unit?
Condo bylaws in Ottawa or other cities tend to be strict about how owners must treat their units, but there may still be issues that arise from time to time that could affect your bottom line. Ask who will handle these situations and whether they fall under regular maintenance or require escalation to a contractor outside of the building. Make sure you understand exactly how it works so you know what to expect when something does come up!
13) Is there a good selection of condos in the building?
You want to make sure that there is a healthy amount of inventory when looking at condos.
14) What are the condo fees?
It’s important to know what you’re getting into with your condo fees – are there any special assessments or are they increasing?
15) Is anyone buying out of their units in the building?
If so, it could be an indication that there are some issues with the building. You also might find yourself in competition with someone interested in buying your unit, which would make it more expensive for you if you decided to sell.
16) Do all units come with appliances?
Some buildings may not include stoves and refrigerators, while others could have appliances with the potential to break down. It’s best to know what you’re getting into.
17) Can I pay for my condo in installments?
This is a more affordable option that some buildings offer, but some only allow you to pay for your unit all at once. Make sure this works for your budget!
18) How does the noise level compare to other condos nearby?
It’s important to make sure your neighbors won’t disrupt your peace on a regular basis. Do they play their music loudly late at night or leave their balcony doors open while smoking? Ask about soundproofing if necessary, but it may be worth investing in some noise-canceling headphones if you’re living in a particularly loud area.
19) Is there anything I’m not seeing?
You’ve probably heard many stories about people who accidentally missed something major when buying a condo. When touring the building, look for any red flags to address before signing anything.
20) How far is the commute from this condo?
If you’ll be working in a different city, it might not be worth paying a small fortune every month if your daily commute will take over an hour. Make sure you’re buying something worth both your time and money!
21) Is this community pet-friendly?
Just because a building is for sale, doesn’t mean it’s going to be immediately available. If you have a pet that you can’t bear to leave behind, make sure there are no restrictions on pets in the condo before signing a contract!
22) Can I view the condo at any time?
There might be strict business hours when you can visit your unit during showings. Make sure you’re okay with those before putting in an offer – if not, look elsewhere.
23) What will my insurance cover?
You’ll want to ask your insurance company what they’ll cover if something happens on the property. For instance, many buildings don’t cover water damage (which makes sense – it isn’t the owner’s fault that it rained), and certain units might not have balconies or elevators that increase the overall risk.
24) What is expected of me as a condo owner?
Condos usually come with an array of rules about everything from noise levels to garbage disposal. Make sure you’re ready to handle these before signing a contract so you can avoid any penalties!
25) How do I pay taxes on my condo?
Generally speaking, condos are considered a “principal residence” for tax purposes – but not always! Think about how your condo will impact your yearly taxes before you put in an offer.
26) How can I save money on renovations?
If you’re looking to make some updates to your unit, look for perks like instant access to bulk discounts at hardware stores and other vendors that might help you save big bucks.
27) Is there anything unique about this building/community?
Something that makes your condo different from all the others out there. Including something like a great view or proximity to public transit could make it easier (or harder) to sell in the future.
28) Can I modify my unit?
Some buildings feature strict rules about altering anything, including light fixtures. Others might allow more freedom during renovations-find out whether or not you’ll need approval before moving in!
If you’re looking to buy a condo, it’s important to ask all the tough questions before signing on the dotted line. The more informed your decision is going into buying a new home, the better off you’ll be in the long run! These are just some of our top tips for what to ask when buying a condo – let us know if we can help or answer any other questions for you as well. We hope this article will give those considering purchasing their first place peace of mind and an idea about how much work goes into finding that perfect fit.