Having managed a large portfolio of condominium buildings, along with buying and selling condos for clients, I have found that there are 5 questions that most people forget to ask when buying a condo:
- The Rental to Owner Occupancy Ratio
Knowing how many units are owner occupied gives you a general insight into the building. Generally, a building with an abundance of rentals tends to have more issues with noise complaints and bylaw infractions. There are plenty of fantastic tenants too, but owners tend to care more about the property as they have a vested interest in it. As a rule of thumb 33% rentals and 66% Owner Occupancy is a good ratio, any higher and ensure you ask the questions below
- Majority Owner
Ask the condo manager if there is a majority owner in the building. This is one person who owns a large amount of units in the building. This is important to know, as that one person can have a lot of control in terms of voting rights and decision making for the building. There is no obligation for the condo manager to tell you this, but hopefully with a simple polite question you can get a feel for the building.
- Speak to a Board member
Ask the condo manager if you would be able to speak to the president or a board member of the condo. The condo manager is under no obligation to allow this, but if you give a good reason for wanting to speak with them, they will hopefully comply. If they don’t, this may be a reason to dig deeper into the condo board and management. Ask the Board member about the troubles of the building, any problem owners, water leaks etc. They are often willing to be more honest than the condo manager.
- Move-in Policies
There can be so much energy and excitement on your move-in day, it is easy to forget that most condominiums have move-in policies that must be followed. Nothing is worse than breaking a rule on the first day at your new condo, especially if you get a fine. Ensure that you talk with the condo manager ahead of time, find out if you have to book the elevator (if applicable), where you are allowed to park the moving truck, and if there are certain hour restrictions.
- Pet restrictions
A lot of newer condo bylaws have clauses similar to:
An Owner shall not: keep or allow any pet, animal, livestock or fowl of any kind at any time to be on his Unit, on the Common Property or on any Corporation property, other than household animals and pets as are normally permitted in private homes in urban residential areas, and then only if approved by the Board in writing, which approval may be withdrawn on reasonable grounds on fifteen (15) days’ notice to that effect.
This means that if you get approval for your pet and purchase the property, you could still lose that approval in the future. You would have to remove your pet, even though you are stuck with the property and mortgage. For people who love their pets, this can be devastating! A really good question to ask is if the Board has ever revoked permission on a pet. Usually, this only occurs if a pet causes physical damage to the property or a person, but you can never be too careful!
These are just the forgotten questions, always be sure that you are doing your standard due diligence, and getting the condominium documents professionally reviewed if you are unsure.