Questions to Ask When Buying a Condo: A Master Guide

Questions to Ask When Buying a Condo

Purchasing a condo can be an exciting first step into homeownership. But before you make an offer, you’ll want to do your due diligence. Learning the right questions to ask when buying a condo will help set you up for success as a first-time owner.

Key Takeaways

  • Get details on condo fees and what they cover
  • Ask about the reserve fund and any special assessments
  • Review condo rules on pets, rentals, renovations and more
  • Tour the building and amenities to see conditions firsthand
  • Meet the property manager and board to get a feel for the community

Buying a condo is not the same as purchasing a detached home. You’ll be sharing walls, elevators, amenities and more with neighbors. So beyond just viewing the unit itself, you need to look at the big picture of building operations and finances.

Arm yourself with the right condo questions before purchasing to avoid surprises down the road. Here are the top areas to investigate:

Condo Fees and Finances

One of the first things you’ll want clarity on is how much the monthly condo fees are. This regular payment covers shared utilities, amenities, maintenance, repairs and more. Condo fees can vary widely, so it’s important to understand exactly what is and isn’t included.

When reviewing the condo status certificate, also look at the reserve fund. This “rainy day” account helps pay for major unexpected repairs without burdening owners. Ask if the reserve fund seems healthy for future needs.

While you’re at it, inquire about any past, present or proposed special assessments. These one-time fees help cover costs when the reserve fund falls short. Frequent special assessments can signal financial issues.

Condo Rules and Restrictions

Different condos have unique guidelines around pets, guests, parking, renovations and more. Ask for a copy of the bylaws so you can review all the do’s and don’ts. Make sure the condo lifestyle aligns with yours before committing.

For example, some buildings limit residents to small dogs or cats. Others prohibit rentals altogether. If you have a large pooch or want rental income, you’ll want to investigate these rules upfront.

Building Condition and Amenities

While viewing the individual unit is important, don’t forget the rest of the building! Take a tour of shared amenities like the pool, gym, lobby and hallways. Assess the general condition and maintenance of these common areas.

Ask about major upcoming projects like hallway renovations or deck repairs too. Though the reserve fund often covers these costs, it helps to be aware of planned improvements.

Property Management and Community

Get to know the property management company and board members. These individuals significantly impact the building’s operation.

  • Are they responsive to issues?
  • Do they stay on top of maintenance?

Also, try chatting with residents in the halls or elevators to get a feel for the community. Is it mostly families? Retirees? Asking neighbors for input can provide valuable insight.

Condo Location

Pay attention to the condo’s surrounding area too.

Is it near public transit, grocery stores, parks and other conveniences?

Check for heavy traffic or loud neighbors that could cause noise issues.

Try visiting the neighborhood at various times – are the nearby shops and restaurants bustling or quiet? Get a sense of the overall vibe before purchasing.

Things to Request and Review

When buying a condo, there are several important documents you’ll want to take a look at:

  • Status certificate – Provides financial and legal details
  • Bylaws – Outlines rules all residents must follow
  • Minutes from recent board meetings – Offers glimpse into issues and decisions
  • Reserve fund study – Estimates upcoming repair and maintenance costs
  • Depreciation report – Predicts lifespan and replacement cost of building components
  • Financial statements and budgets – Shows where money comes from and where it’s spent
  • Engineering and inspection reports – Reveals issues identified with the property

Reviewing these records will help you make an informed decision when purchasing your condo. Here are a few things to look for in each one:

Status Certificate Review

Bylaw Review

  • Pet rules – type, size, breed allowed?
  • Rental and Airbnb allowances
  • Renovation guidelines
  • Guest and parking policies
  • Noise restrictions or quiet hours

Board Meeting Minutes

  • Hot topics and complaints
  • Future projects and upgrades planned
  • Recent rule changes or violations
  • Personality conflicts or drama
  • Overall cooperation and communication

Reserve Fund Study

  • Adequacy of current reserve fund
  • Big projects anticipated in next 5-10 years
  • Recommended condo fee contributions to reserve
  • Plan for funding future repairs and replacements

Depreciation Report

  • Timeline of building component lifespans
  • Projected replacement costs
  • Recommendations for reserve fund contributions
  • Repair and maintenance priorities

Financial Statements

  • Revenue sources – condo fees, parking rental, laundry, etc.
  • Operating expenses and reserve fund contributions
  • Surplus or deficit each year
  • Investments and savings accounts
  • Contracts for services like landscaping or snow removal

Annual Budget

  • Planned expenditures for operations, maintenance and administration
  • Anticipated contributions to the reserve fund
  • Projected capital repairs and upgrades
  • Forecasted revenue from condo fees and other sources

Inspection Reports

  • Status of roof, windows, foundation, etc.
  • Identification of issues or deficiencies
  • Overview of building envelope and rainscreen
  • Elevator inspection results
  • Fire system testing outcomes

Carefully combing through these documents will provide greater awareness of the condo’s financial, legal and operational health.

Questions for Your Real Estate Agent

Your real estate agent is an invaluable partner when navigating a condo purchase. Lean on their expertise by asking key questions like:

  • What’s the average condo fee in this building compared to similar properties?
  • How is the reserve fund balance here vs. other condos of the same age?
  • Have you heard any feedback about this property manager or board?
  • Does this floorplan and layout sell quickly or sit on the market?
  • Are there typically multiple offers on units in this building?
  • What nearby amenities and transportation do buyers look for?
  • What’s your perspective on the neighborhood and surrounding area?
  • What does this condo development company’s reputation look like?
  • How timely and professional is the management’s communication and response to issues?

Your real estate pro likely has insider knowledge that can help you determine if the property meets your needs and expectations.

Q: What questions should I ask before buying a condo?

A: There are many important questions to ask when looking to buy a condo. These include questions about the condo association, monthly fees, insurance policy, what services are included, if the community allow pets, if you’re allowed to rent out your unit and if there is pending litigation or special assessment. It’s also important to go over the community rules and see the condo board’s meeting minutes.

Q: Is it important to go see the condo?

A: Absolutely! You need to ask when buying a condo to make sure it meets your needs. Seeing the condo in person will help you identify any potential problems such as soundproofing or storage space. It’s also especially important if it is an older building.

Q: What are some of the things I need to know about the Strata / HOA?

A: Knowing the right questions to ask before buying a condo can help ensure that you’re making an informed decision. Questions regarding Strata rules or HOA (Home Owners Association) rules and regulations should be asked prior to purchasing. This includes understanding monthly fees, what services are included, and asking if there are any restrictions on renting out your unit.

Q: What should I know about condos in BC?

A: When buying a house in BC, there are some specific considerations for condos that don’t apply for single family homes. Make sure you understand how much maintenance fee is required for each month, whether pets are allowed in the building or complex, check for any pending litigation or special assessments from previous owners and look into potential resale value.

Q: Are there certain questions I should ask when buying a condo?

A: Yes! When purchasing a condominium unit it is important to ask several key questions. Understanding what amenities come with ownership such as fitness centers or storage space; knowing what monthly fees will be charged; inquiring if renters are accepted; as well as obtaining information on pending litigation and special assessments from previous owners can all help inform your decision.

Q: Do condos have good resale value?

A: While resale value depends greatly on location and condition of the property, generally speaking condos do have good resale value. However, it’s still important to research potential resale values of similar properties in order to get an accurate idea of how much you could potentially get back from reselling.

Q: What type of insurance policy do I need when buying a condo?

A: When purchasing a condominium, it is wise to obtain an insurance policy that covers both liability and property damage. Additionally, many mortgage lenders require homeowners insurance, so make sure you understand coverage limits and deductible amounts before making any decisions.

Q: How much are monthly fees when living in a condo?

 <p>A: Monthly fees vary depending on size, location, amenities, etc. You’ll want to find out exactly what services and maintenance is included within these monthly fees. Generally speaking though, most condos include common area cleaning/maintenance services, landscaping costs, snow removal expenses, water bills and other miscellaneous costs.

Q: Can I rent out my unit if I own a condo?

A: It depends on where you purchase your condominium unit. Many communities allow renters while others strictly forbid them. Make sure you read through all documents associated with ownership before signing anything so that you understand your rights as an owner.

Q: Does every condo association have different rules?

A: Every condominium complex has its own set of rules which may differ from other associations. Before deciding which one works best for you, take time to read over all rules associated with ownership including pet policies, noise ordinances or repair requirements. This will give you an idea of what kind of lifestyle may be expected from residents in this particular complex.

Q: Are there any age restrictions when looking at condos?

A: In general no – however some complexes may restrict certain age groups from renting or owning units within their buildings due to safety reasons. Additionally some townships may impose minimum age requirements for those who wish to purchase units within their boundaries. Be sure to research local laws prior to committing yourself financially.

Ready to Buy a Condo?

Did you know that first-time condo buyers often overlook investigating noise issues according to a survey by Richard Morrison? Sound travels easily in condos, so ask yours about insulation.

Once you’ve narrowed down your condo search, make sure to:

  • Get pre-approved for financing so you can move quickly when you find the perfect place.
  • Make a thorough pro/con list on the units you tour to compare options objectively.
  • Read all condo documents carefully and hire a real estate lawyer to review.
  • Inquire about current incentives like first-year condo fee credits or upgrades that developers offer.
  • Negotiate any issues revealed through your due diligence with your agent’s help.

Doing your homework with the right condo questions will lead to an informed purchase. Now get ready to settle into your new community!

When you’re looking to purchase an apartment, condo, or townhouse it’s important to ask the right questions. You’ll want to look into the condo association’s and find out what kind of fees are associated with owning a condo in Vancouver or wherever you’re looking.

If you simply can’t live without certain amenities, especially if you’re considering moving from a single-family home to a smaller condo unit, it’s not quite the same and can be difficult to adjust – so make sure you know what you’re getting into. 

Find out if there’s extra space like an attic or garage that could come with the unit if it’s an older building. It’s also good to know how many unsold units are present in the building as this can predict how quickly units turn over, and whether or not there is a good opportunity to own a home without having to worry about all the caretaking responsibilities that come with it.

Finally, inquire about the professional management team and their percentage of ownership of the building – as this will help cover your personal belongings should anything go wrong. Be aware that if there are lots of unsold units in the complex or building then usually this isn’t a good sign for potential buyers looking for condos.

However, it may still be worth taking a look at different condo markets and communities as they provide an excellent opportunity for homeownership – particularly if you’re looking to downsize from your current living situation. Overall, exploring different condo properties is definitely worth doing when looking for an apartment! 


Ready to turn your real estate dreams into reality? Contact Richard Morrison, Vancouver’s top realtor with 20+ years of experience. As a Medallion Club member and RE/MAX Hall of Fame award winning agent, he’s the expert you need on your side. Whether buying, selling, or investing, Richard’s personalized approach and deep market insights ensure a successful transaction. Reach out to Richard today at (778) 900-2235 and make your real estate journey seamless and rewarding.

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Richard Morrison

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