Marie-Claude Dulac

By Marie-Claude Dulac

February 1, 2017

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Condo-shopping Checklist

Article revised on 22 February 2018

Your kids are preparing to make you an empty-nester. Now might be the time to invest in that condo you’ve had your eye on. Whether you plan to live there or have your kids live there while they’re at school, here’s a list of what you need to check.

This way you ensure that the purchase you make is in compliance and the seller has provided you with all the information required to make an informed decision.

Condo fees are very low? Then it’s probably too good to be true!

Are there very low condo fees for covering shared bills such as grounds maintenance and common areas? Be on your guard! Too often, low fees mean an inadequate contingency fund, which is a cash reserve that all co-owners pay into for covering major work on the building. In Quebec, the law says that at least 5% of condo fees must be paid into the contingency fund. However, this rate is usually insufficient. Reality could catch up with you when major repairs become necessary, gouging a hole in your budget. All of a sudden, you could find yourself having to pay out a large amount, whereas the money could have been collected over a longer period.

You should also know that condo fees are often cited for information purposes only and may vary significantly.

Condo rules: take them seriously!

Take the time to read through the rules and ensure that you understand them. It’s tempting to skip this when you’re impatient to buy a new home. However, the rules could tip the balance when it comes time to make a decision.

Remember:

  • Some rules are very strict. Examples? In certain condos, it is not permitted to use a barbecue, own a pet or cover hardwood floors.
  • When the time period for your purchase offer has expired, the law considers that you have accepted the rules. At that point, you must comply with them.
  • Rules can be very different from one building to another.

New condo? Consider title insurance

Is your dream condo under construction? Your notary may suggest that you take out title insurance. This insurance protects the buyer and the mortgage creditor in the event of problems with ownership titles. All problems related to property titles are covered, whether known or unknown before the transaction date. For example, if the contractor does not pay the sub-contractors or if the work is not in compliance and must be partly re-done, you will be protected against the financial consequences of these events. Title insurance covers many expenses, including legal fees.

Your notary is the best person to advise you on this subject.

What the seller must provide the buyer

When selling the condo, the seller must provide the buyer with the following documents:

  • Declaration of co-ownership
  • Building rules
  • Minutes of condominium meetings

These documents play a major role in the sales process. The purchaser must state that he or she is satisfied in order for the sale to be finalized.

Furthermore, if the Board of Directors has adopted an expense to be paid at a future date, the seller is obliged to inform the purchaser of this in writing, failing which the seller could be required to cover the bill, even if he or she doesn’t benefit from the improvements made to the condo. Keep this in mind!

Buying a new home is a big investment. So invest a little time in getting to know the ins and outs and ensure that the condo you covet meets your needs and expectations. You’ll save yourself a lot of grief!

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