|CONDOCENTRIC: BUYER BE AWARE - How Condominium Purchasers Can Be Informed Going In|
A faulty notion exists surrounding the concept of “condominium living” in that all condominiums are viewed as the same.
Sure, there is recognition that amenities vary from building to building, along with the number of visitor parking spaces, what is included in common expenses and/or the level of security presence, but overall there is a lack of appreciation of the degree to which every condominium corporation is unique. Condominiums vary in terms of governing documents, corporate governance and community politics and by way of the make-up of their residents, owners, directors and property management. Every condominium is truly different.
Potential purchasers often set out criteria at the outset of their property search. In addition to a budget surrounding both the purchase price and common expense obligation, they may set a certain geographic radius or proximity to public transportation, schools, restaurants, etcetera; the number of bedrooms and/or bathrooms; even a preference as to the size/age of a building for their realtor to work with. Perhaps at this initial stage of the buying process there is an opportunity to do more – specifically to consider lifestyle requirements and include them in the condo shopping list.
The duty and objects of condominium corporations are to manage and control the property in accordance with the Condominium Act, 1998 and the particular condominium corporation's Declaration, By-laws and Rules. Rather than learning of an undesirable restriction after you have bought in or successfully negotiated a deal, bid only on properties that suit your key lifestyle needs. If the cat is a beloved and permanent member of your family, why even look at properties that do not permit pets? Don’t expect a condominium corporation to amend its documents to accommodate your lifestyle choices.
Certainly part of the problem is that purchasers do not know to ask these questions or to add such requirements to their property search criteria and realtors may not always have a direct or easy means to ascertain this information from a listing. While lifestyle requirements should be considered and verified in the course of a Status Certificate review conducted by a lawyer prior to a transaction becoming binding, informal opportunities are available with the use of a little creativity to help purchasers develop a better understanding before even making an offer. Consider:
Boards and property managers are increasingly circulating welcome packages and undertaking other efforts to educate new owners. As a potential purchaser, why not take the time to check this out before you commit to buying into the community (i.e. before deciding to waive the condition concerning the Status Certificate review)?
You can learn a great deal about a condominium community by making observations and informal inquiries as set out above. Take the time at the outset of your property search to consider what type of community you want to be a part of, what suits your lifestyle needs and make these known to your realtor and your lawyer. Take the time to ask questions to get a feeling for the realities of what condominium living means in the community you are considering and then confirm this more formally in the course of the Status Certificate review. After all, it ultimately falls to the purchaser. Caveat emptor – buyer beware.
By Marc Bhalla - July 2012
All of the information contained in this article is of a general nature for informational purposes only, and is not intended to represent the definitive opinion of the firm of Elia Associates on any particular matter. Although every effort is made to ensure that the information contained in this newsletter is accurate and up-to-date, the reader should not act upon it without obtaining appropriate professional advice and assistance.