Buying a condo is a different process from buying a house. There is much more to consider and it’s imperative that you do your research. When you buy a condo, you are also buying into how the property is run and the management company. You’ll have to deal with the other owners and you should expect eventual condo fee increases and extra fees that are not included in the condo fees.
There are many documents and reviewing them is important
Once you have found a condo that you love and you want to submit an offer, make that offer conditional upon reviewing all the condo documents from the last two or three years. Don’t be shy about making this request. The OACIQ, the organization responsible for protecting buyers and sellers, has a mandatory form for all real estate brokers that includes a special clause for condo sales (B2.5) in its promise to purchase. It clearly states:
“REVIEW OF CO-OWNERSHIP DOCUMENTS This promise to purchase is conditional on the BUYER’s examination of the declaration of co-ownership, including the regulation of the immovable and the following documents…”
What are the most important documents to review?
The regular documents that should be available to the buyer include the following:
- Minutes of the annual meeting
- Reserve fund update
- Financial statements
- Proof of condo fees
- Building insurance plan
The insurance plan is an important document to give to your insurance company so they can analyze it and propose a plan to cover your condo and personal belongings. They will make sure nothing is left out. The buyer has a time period to receive and review these documents. A buyer who is not satisfied upon examining the documents and wishes to withdraw the promise to purchase can notify the seller in writing within seven days of receiving the documents. At this point, the promise to purchase becomes null and void. If the buyer is satisfied, the condition is automatically waived and accepted once the timeline has expired.
Other questions to ask
Here are some other questions to help you assess the overall condo association and community:
- How helpful is the president or treasurer of the association when you approach them for information?
- Is the building clean and well maintained?
- Are you allowed to have pets? Can you have a barbecue on the balcony?
- Is there enough money in the reserve fund to pay for any work that the association is planning to do?
- Do you get the sense that all the owners are paying their condo fees?
- Is there a management company hired or are the owners running the association?
- Is there an annual maintenance contract for the roof?
Just remember that all buildings, whether they are a house or condo, need regular maintenance and small repair. For a condo, these costs should be shown in the annual budget.
When doing your due diligence, look out for the big jobs. For example: roof, re-pointing the bricks, new heating system, foundation work, windows, balconies, etc. These costs can add up. Well-run associations will have quotes available for the work they are considering.
For more information on condos in Quebec, you can visit: www.condolegal.com
Jennifer Walker has been active in Montreal Real Estate since 2003. She founded the Montreal Real Estate Investor’s Group, which has more than 1,200 members. She specializes in buying and selling, eco-friendly homes, and helping real estate investors. For more articles and e-books and to sign up for her newsletter, visit www.montreal-realestate.ca