Ever think about owning a condo?

There are a few things you should know before signing the dotted line.

We Know: All About Condominiums

What is a condominium?

Condominium is a term used to define the legal ownership agreement between people purchasing property in the same building or complex. A condominium agreement can apply to apartment-style buildings, townhouses or other style developments. Under a condominium agreement, an owner typically 'owns' everything in his or her unit from the walls inward. The rest of the building and common areas are owned in common with other condominium owners.

What amenities come with a condominium?

Although amenities can vary greatly between each condominium property, some common benefits include a pool, sauna, parking garages, fitness areas, storage facilities, cable TV, gated entrances and security access.

What sets condominiums apart from other housing options?

The condominium agreement is usually structured so that individual property owners become voting members in a condo association by purchasing property. The association collects dues which are used for upkeep of the common areas and to pay for other common costs, which may include some kinds of insurance and utilities.

How does a condominium association work?

A homeowner's association is governed by rules and regulations defining what is owned by the individual and what is owned in common. The board of the association, which is comprised of and elected by the owners, usually has the the duty of overseeing the maintenance and upkeep of common areas that unit owners jointly share. The board, or a maintenance company hired by the board, collects the homeowners dues and pays bills related to maintenance and upkeep. These dues can vary greatly depending upon the responsibilities of the homeowners association and can range from $50 to hundreds of dollars a month.

What should I look for when buying a condo?

There are several things you should keep a watch for when pricing and considering condominiums.


  • Ask about the size of the association's reserve fund. If it's too low, then every time there is a major repair or maintenance issue there is the possibility of a special assessment. Associations with healthy reserves can weather the unexpected better than those without.
  • Understand what your fees cover and what they do not cover. Ask about common insurance policies and those you must carry as an individual. Also, see if any utility costs such as water or power are paid for out of the dues.
  • Know the rules: Request a copy of the condominium's rules and regulations before moving in. What types of pets are permitted? When can you have visitors? What times can you use the barbeque facilities? Having a clear understanding of what you can and cannot do will give you a better sense of how life will be in your new condo and whether or not it suits your lifestyle.
  • Assess the noise factor: Be sure to visit the condo at several different times of day in order to get a feel for how noisy your neighbors will be. Remember, in a condo, people are most likely going to be living above, below and on both sides of you.


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