Tips for Canadians Purchasing Condos
According to a recent forecast from the Canadian Real Estate Association, the housing market is poised to see 3.4 per cent growth in the coming year – and more and more of us are choosing condominiums.
Jamus MacPherson, a condominium insurance expert with Western Financial Group, encourages clients to read the fine print before signing on the dotted line. “Buying a home, whether it is a condo or a single family house, is one of the biggest financial commitments you will make in your life,” he says. “There are important differences between purchasing single and multi-family homes. When it comes to condos, keeping a few important details in mind can save you headaches in the long run.”
To help condo buyers sort through the clutter, MacPherson suggests referring to the following checklist:
Ask questions. Knowing the building’s history will give you peace of mind. Important questions to ask include: Do the unit owners own the recreational facilities as part of the common property, or does the condominium corporation lease them? How many units are rented? How much money is in the reserve fund and what major expenses, if any, are being considered in the reserve fund plan?
Schedule a comprehensive home inspection. This examination should not only include the unit you’re considering, but also the building envelope and common areas. When selecting an inspector or engineer, make sure they are qualified to provide a complete and reliable inspection. This will protect your investment in the long run.
Watch for last minute changes. If you’ve purchased a new-build condo, there is a chance that last minute changes may be made by contractors in construction. Keep a close eye out and don’t be afraid to ask questions if something isn’t as was initially agreed on.
Know what your condo board will cover. Anything to do with the complex’s structure is the responsibility of the condominium corporation, but you will need to secure your own insurance to cover personal property, liability or any changes you choose to make to the unit. According to MacPherson, understanding the condo corporation and the stability of the reserve funds is crucial.
“It is critical that you work with your broker to ensure that you not only protect yourself from losses to your own property, but also any costs that may be incurred from losses to the rest of the property that might be underinsured through the corporation.”
Be proactive with your insurance broker. Depending on the use of your condo, your insurance needs may change. “Many condo owners don’t realize that by taking on a roommate, or leasing out their unit, their current policy may no longer cover them,” says MacPherson. “Updating your broker on anything from new, valuable contents to cohabitation will ensure that you’re properly insured.”