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It is often said that buying a condominium is buying a lifestyle.  With all of the new condo developments across the country it is important to know what kind of lifestyle you want and then work with an experienced realtor to help you find what you need from a condominium.  There are condominiums that cater mainly to seniors.  These may have informal social activities and "pot luck" dinners or may allow you to obtain services either with their own “club house” or from an adjoining retirement home .

Condos – What to know!

Source: Stephani Thomson

It is often said that buying a condominium is buying a lifestyle.  With all of the new condo developments it is important to know what kind of lifestyle you want and then work with an experienced realtor to help you find what you need from a condominium.  Condominium living is different from owning or renting a single dwelling, town house or apartment, because condos have a dual nature in that condo owners hold title to their own units and share responsibility for the operating costs of the entire condominium.

There are obvious advantages to condominium ownership like having an 'instant' community and not having to maintain a yard or driveway.  For seniors especially, being part of this type of ‘community’ can be reassuring and provide a strong social network.  On the other hand, there are often restrictions on such things as owning pets, or having an outdoor barbeque.  Moreover, each condominium development has been built with a certain market in mind and the developers strive to stay current with the needs of its residents.

In many areas, whether in urban centres, suburban, or small towns there are condominium developments designed to accommodate the needs of seniors.  It is important to have a good idea of what is required for the individual before buying a condo and make sure that the location is convenient and comfortable for the person.  Also, proximity to services and amenities may be a priority for some, while a swimming pool and or outdoor space may be important to others.

In as much as the type of lifestyle desired is important to focus on while contemplating a condo buy, it is also important to know how a condominium functions.

In 2001, The Condominium Act in Ontario underwent extensive changes and the condominium corporations had three years to implement the new policies.  An important new policy was with regards to the reserve fund study.  Condominium corporations must maintain reserve funds to pay for major repairs and replacement of the common elements and assets.  The reserve fund study, which is done by independently certified individuals (engineering and accounting firms), looks at the necessary repairs in the coming years and determines whether there’s enough money in the fund to cover these costs.  New studies must be completed every three years.

The Condominium Act says that for existing condominiums, the fund must become fully funded – that is, able to handle the coming expenses – within ten years.  New condos must complete the study within a year of registration and must be fully funded by the end of the following year.  Unusual expenses may result in additional assessments against you, the owner, that fall outside of the planned maintenance and reserves.

If you own a condo, it is important to have a copy of the reserve fund study as this states the financial and structural integrity of your home.  Moreover, if you are planning to sell your unit, make sure you know what the status of your own unit is.  If you are looking to buy, make sure you and your lawyer review the full set of documents provided by the management company of the building and unit you are considering.  Be sure to ask questions to your lawyer, your Real Estate agent, the concierge and any other residents you may know of in the building.  Condos are good investments for the right buyers and can provide easy, carefree living for seniors.


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