Buying a Condo in London Ontario
Buying a condo in London, Ontario, be it an apartment, a townhouse or a townhome takes much more care than when buying a house. The reason being is that due diligence is required to understand the condominium corporation’s bylaws and financial stability. Receiving a Status Certificate from the property manager is a financial snapshot of the corporation of any encumbrances or restrictions. You, your lawyer and Realtor should review this vital document (could be 100 pages plus) before you sign the final paperwork to purchase.
Below Are Condominium Explanations & Prudent Buyer Tips.Before buying a condo in London, Ontario, following these ideas, tips and real-life experiences and then implementing them most likely will save you money, time, worry and allow you to sleep better!
Buying a condo in London & South West Ontario can be a roller coaster of emotions, finding the right one that fits your budget and lifestyle. Securing a mortgage and moving in. And, if you’re like most, this condo may be your most substantial investment. Emotions over such a large and personal purchase can often cloud common sense & unbridled enthusiasm.
Many condo buyers do very little research before “diving in” and investing their hard-earned money. Oh, they may have been going to ‘open houses,’ searching MLS or viewing realtor websites and that is usually all they do.
Below are a few ideas and with the help of the right real estate professional (ask them these 11 questions first), you’ll make a good sound decision that you’ll be happy and proud of for years to come.
Inspect, Review and Double Check:
Get a home inspection by a professional home inspector who is thorough and can explain to you his or her findings. For apartment condos, you may or may not want to do the inspection yourself because the windows, doors, roof etc. are covered by the condo corporation. Turn on all the appliances, the heat or A/C, all lights, flush the toilets and run all the taps in the house and check electrical switches and receptacles.
Have your lawyer review the Status Certificate, which will cover the by-laws and fees, restrictions and the financial status of the condo corporation.
Don’t take anything for granted, inspect everything!
Imagine the unit vacant:
Your furnishings and decorations will be the ones filling this new residence. Don’t be swayed by beautiful furniture, and it leaves with the owner.
Income plus Lifestyle Equals Mortgage Payment:
Sit down with us and honestly discuss your income level and living expenses. Take into account future considerations like job security or transfer, lifestyle, amenities or fix-ups.
View More Than One Building or Neighbourhood:
Go through at least 4-6 properties. Don’t get excited on the first property you see, if you like it, use it as a yardstick, and if the others do not compare, act quickly. With a patient Realtor, you’ll be able to view enough properties to get a proper overall perspective of your market. And when you find the right property, all the legwork will be worth it.
Utilize The Professionals You Are Working With:
By aligning yourself with the right real estate professional, you’ll have an entire group of professionals working for you. Top Realtors have lenders, inspectors, appraisers, lawyers, tradespeople, cleaners, a whole group of trained professionals making the overall buying experience simple and easy for you.
More Checking to Do:
Check out all your costs and expense before you sign: condo fees, utilities, cable, taxes and insurance. Make sure all services are on (gas, electricity, and water) when you do see the unit, so you can inspect everything is in working order, Ask lots of questions and be very detail conscious. (I use a detailed room by room review manual with every client, it covers everything)
Do a Final Walk-Through Before Closing:
Visit the property 2-3 days with your Realtor before you move in to make sure there are no surprises. Be sure the appliances, fixtures and any chattels are still there as you had agreed upon when the offer was accepted. Many times, things get overlooked that will not be in a final walk-through. (This is a standard clause in my Agreement of Purchase and Sale)
Plan for Flexibility if Needed:
Closing dates are not written in stone. Allow for contingencies and have a backup plan. If you or the sellers need a little more time to conclude the final arrangements, don’t let these delays upset or frustrate you. These types of circumstances are not uncommon in a real estate transaction; however, with a great real estate professional and his/her teams, this will seldom occur.
If it’s Not in Writing, It Doesn’t Exist:
All promises and discussions are to be in writing. Don’t make any assumptions or believe any assurances from anyone. Even the best intentions at times are misinterpreted. Have your real estate professional keep an ongoing log (in writing) of all discussions, and get the seller’s written approval for all agreements.
Condominium Living Explained
More and more Londoners are choosing to live in condominiums. Be they apartment-style, a townhouse or a townhome. Empty-nesters, singles, couples and families enjoy the freedom from routine maintenance like grass cutting, raking leaves, shovelling snow, in most cases, replacing roof shingles, windows or doors.
Owning a condominium in London, Ontario includes sharing common areas with other residents and following by-laws and rules that are set by the condo corporation. It’s essential to understand how a condominium corporation is established and operates, so you know what to expect from condominium living.
A Status Certificate Explained
When people think of the financial position of a condominium, they believe it regards the amount of money in the reserve fund. The myth that has grown up around this is that a condo corporation with a large amount of money is in better shape than a condominium with a much smaller sum of money in it.
A Status Certificate is a document containing information regarding the operational, legal, and financial dimensions of the condominium corporation. The corporation is required to give each person so requesting a status certificate concerning a unit in the corporation.
A request for a Status Certificate is given to the property manager. The property manager on behalf of the condominium corporation is allowed ten days to deliver the Status Certificate to the requester. The cost is generally around $100.
The enjoyment of owners is most directly affected by the By-laws and House Rules of the condominium corporation. The by-laws explain to owners how a building is run on a general level.
The following are the types of matters by-laws deal with.
- The Board of Directors – how many, how they are nominated, elected or removed, and how long they can serve.
- How the condominium corporation can borrow money.
- The assessment and collection of contributions to ordinary expenses.
- What constitutes a standard unit? This covers what the condominium is or is not responsible for in a residence when it comes to damage, repair or replacement. Owners need to know this to get insurance for their unit.
- How the units and common elements are to be maintained, used and managed.
- Members’ meetings and annual general meetings. The appointment, remuneration, functions, and duties of agents, officers and employees of the condominium.
By-laws must be reasonable and consistent with the Condominium Act and the condominium’s own declaration.
By-laws can be added to, amended or removed. Changing a by-law requires a majority vote of the owners (i.e. 50% of Unit Owners plus one). That vote must take place at a meeting of the owners that must be specifically called for. All owners should be given at least 15 days’ written notice of that meeting.
The 1998 Condominium Act requires that a minimum of 3 directors be appointed. Generally, boards will have between 3 and 7 directors depending on the size and type of Condominium Corporation. More often than not, within a board, there will be a President, Vice-President, Treasurer and Secretary at minimum.
In most condominiums, directors of boards restrict their activity to making decisions and advising the Unit Owners to maintain or improving the affairs of the condo. They deal with the financial, legal and physical aspects of running the building as well as with the concerns of the Unit Owners.
It is not usually the job of the board to carry out the day-to-day running of the building – that job is customarily delegated to the property manager. However, the board is responsible for ensuring that the building is being run properly by the property manager.
A Board of Directors is well advised to seek expert advice and opinions from professionals such as lawyers, accountants, contractors, architects, and designers before making decisions or communicating information to the Unit Owners.
Once a year (must be within six months of the end of each fiscal year of the corporation), the corporation will hold an annual general meeting for all the Unit Owners.
The involvement of as many Unit Owners as possible at an annual general meeting or generally in the affairs of the corporation (whether on the board or committees) is vital for the welfare of a condominium. More input can
If a unitholder does not want to or cannot attend an A.G.M. or another special meeting, they can appoint, in writing, another person to represent them as a proxy and vote at the meeting following their wishes.
Unit Owners can call their own special meeting provided they can obtain 15% of Unit Owners willing to sign the request for the meeting.
The property manager has a variety of responsibilities, including the following:
- Enforce By-laws and House Rules.
- Ensure the building is properly maintained.
- Deal with contractors and oversee the work being done by them on the building.
- Hire and supervise employees of the condominium such as cleaning staff, concierge and door attendants.
- Advise the board concerning the by-laws, house rules, renovations, security and problems arising from the unit holders or such things as damage to common elements.
- Communicate and deal with unitholders. For example, they must advise unitholders of fire alarm drills and window cleaning as well as deal with unitholders’ complaints. Depending on the nature of a claim, a property manager may want to bring the complaint forward to a Board Meeting for resolution.
- Prepare monthly and annual financial budgets and statements.
- Manage the receipt of monthly maintenance fees and the payment of expenses.
The Condominium Act puts the following obligations on the owner and the condominium corporation:
- Owners must, within 30 days of leasing or renewing a lease, notify the corporation of this fact and provide the lessee’s and owner’s names. Within this same period, they must also provide a copy of the lease and furnish the lessee with a copy of the Declaration, by-laws, and rules of the corporation.
- Owners must notify the corporation of lease terminations.
- The Corporation is required to maintain a record of all the notices needed regarding leased units.
A check should be made of the Condominium Declaration, by-laws or house rules as very often they may contain restrictions on leasing/renting. The following are some typical restrictions:
- The owner is still responsible for the monthly maintenance fees and any damage caused by the tenant.
- The suite cannot be used for hotel purposes or leased for less than one year.
- The details of the lease and information about the tenant must be provided to the property manager before the commencement of the tenancy.
- The property manager must inspect the unit before the lease to ensure it is in a good state of repair.
- A tenant cannot sublet a unit.
- An owner must notify the property manager within seven days that the unit is no longer being rented or occupied.