When most folks hear 'condo' they think 'apartment', but a condominium is actually a type of ownership rather than a type of construction. There are condo properties that are apartments, townhouses, villas and single family detached homes. Condos have common property that is shared and managed by the condo board and monthly fees that pay for the maintenance of common property.  Common property may be a roof or just an access road.
 
It is important to understand how a particular condo complex functions, what maintenance fees cover and what funds are set aside in the 'reserve fund' for future expenses. When buying a condo, you are purchasing the unit but also a share of the condo corporation. Reviewing all available documents is essential to reviewing the health (and value) of the complex. 
 
A reserve fund is basically money set aside to cover the costs of budeted expenses over the coming years. A reserve fund study is completed by a 'qualified person' and requested and reviewed by the condo board. There is not a government body that reviews the reserve fund study/plan.  The study and plan outline future maintenance items and expected costs and then this is used to determine the maintenance fees. If the reserve fund is not sufficient to cover costs or an unexpected issue arises a special assessment may be issued.  For example, a building may encounter a large maintenance issue that was unexpected and not budgeted in the reserve fund. This cost will be divided among the owners based on their share of ownership (unit factor) and a special assesssment will be levied.
 
Another thing to consider when purchasing a condo are the bylaws which determine how the condo is run and the rules enforced in the complex. If you have a pet, you need to check the bylaws to determine if pets are allowed and any restrictions associated.  Condo living comes with some rules so depending on your lifestyle that may be good or inconvenient.
 
The most important thing in purchasing a condo is to do your homework. The Purchase Contract outlines the list of documents you should receive as part of the purchase. Go through the list and ensure you have everything you need. I highly suggest all of my clients get the condominium documents reviewed by a condo review company. The documents can be confusing and a professional opinion can give you the information you need to make sure you are paying the right price for your new home. Also, don't be surprised if your lender/bank want to review the documents as well. They are often reviewing these documents for purchases with less than 20% down so ensure your contract is well written to protect your interests.
 
If you are looking for a new condo and you haven't heard the above information from your Realtor or don't have a Realtor, be sure to contact some of the great folks in this city to help you.  I am happy to help as well, but most importantly I want you to be well informed so you can feel confident in your decision and purchase of your new home.
 
Some great resources:
 
Condominium Document Inspection Centre - CDIC - A condo document review company in Calgary on my recommended vendors list.
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One of my clients took possession of their new condo downtown yesterday. Check out the view!  This unit has sweeping views from every room. Absolutely beautiful!
 
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Some recent clients have provided some great testimonials that have now been posted. Thank you all for your trust and ongoing referrals. I have great clients!
 
Outstanding and professional service was provided to Marco and I from Monika. Punctual, knowledgeable, reliable and courteous! We love our new home and appreciate everything Monika has done for us. I would recommend Monika to family and friends for any residential real estate services.
- Anna
 
We've used Monika's services to both buy and sell homes. Monika is an outstanding realtor who provides extraordinary services. She knows the real estate market well and goes the extra mile to ensure her clients experience the results they seek in an efficient and timely manner. I would highly recommend Monika to others desiring a professional, personable, effective realtor who gets the job done.
- Leslie
 
Excellent all around!
- Tim
 
Monika, you are fantastic! Chris and I could not have asked for a more professional, caring Realtor. Thank you so much.
- Chris and Cheryl
 
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If February is any indication, then Calgary is on the road to a real estate recovery. It is expected to be gradual and not consistent across property types and areas of the city, but positive to see such encouraging numbers.
 
A reminder to folks that some minor changes to mortgage lending rules come into effect on March 18. If you are working on a 35 year ammortization, you must have a firm purchase contract in place by March 18. Other changes including refinancing amounts and the availability of HELOC mortgages (home equity line of credit) also come into effect.
 
The numbers for February also indicate a drop in the average days on market and an increase in the list/sale price ratio. Homes are selling quicker and closer to list price than in previous months.
 

Some notable numbers this month from the CREB press release:


The number of single family home sales in the month of February 2011 were 1,169, compared with January 2011, when sales were 791 — an increase of about 48 per cent. The number of condominium sales for the month of February 2011 was 468. This was up from the 302 condominium transactions recorded in January 2011.

 

Year-over-year, the number of single family homes sold in February 2011 in the city of Calgary increased by 13 per cent. In February 2010, single family home sales totaled 1,035. Condominium sales saw a decrease of 13 per cent from the same time a year ago. In February 2010, condominium sales were 536.
 
“The convergence of affordability, low interest rates, a good selection of inventory and improved confidence in the Alberta’s energy sector is building the foundation for a sustainable housing recovery,” says Sano Stante, president of CREB®. “Sales of single family homes priced below $400,000 are driving the gradual recovery, with the expectation that as the year progresses we should see the sales shift to homes priced in the mid range of the market.”
 
The average price of a single family home in the city of Calgary in February 2011 was $461,786, showing a 2 per cent increase from January 2011, when the average price was $454,163, and a 1 per cent increase from February 2010, when the average price was $458,254. The average price of a condominium in the city of Calgary in February 2011 was $290,145, showing a 1 per cent increase from January 2011, when the average price was $288,291 and a 3 per cent increase over last year, when the average price was $282,880.
 
The median price of a single family home in the city of Calgary for February 2011 was $400,000, showing a slight increase from January 2011 when the median price was $390,000. This was a 3 per cent decrease from February 2010, when the median price was $411,000. The median price of a condominium in February 2011 was $267,000, showing a 5 per cent increase from January 2011, when the median price was $255,000, and remained virtually unchanged from February 2010, when it was $265,900.
 
Personally, I have been very busy throughout February and have found some great new homes for some wonderful clients. I am looking forward to handing over many keys in the coming weeks. As well, my current listings have all sold so give me a call if you are preparing for sale and haven't yet contacted me for a market evaluation.
 

View the press release and current housing statistics.

 

Cheers,

Monika

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