A Condo Buying Guide for First Time Home Buyers

Tips to know before buying

 Every year thousands of condo buyers call our advisors looking for help out of a sticky situation resulting from a uninformed condo purchase. As the buying season fires up, buyers need to take a few simple steps to avoid disappointment and unanticipated costs. Here are five specific situations buyers have encountered in the past month alone.

Every year thousands of condo buyers call our advisors looking for help out of a sticky situation resulting from a uninformed condo purchase. As the buying season fires up, buyers need to take a few simple steps to avoid disappointment and unanticipated costs. Here are five specific situations buyers have encountered in the past month alone.

1. David in Kelowna asked us for help in getting an exemption to rent a unit he just bought. The seller told him it was an investment unit, but it turned out the strata had recently passed a new bylaw prohibiting rentals.

Tip: Before you sign for a unit, read all the bylaws currently still in effect. Don’t rely on the strata or the current owner to provide you with what they think are the bylaws. Only by having your lawyer or agent review the registered bylaws in Land Titles can you be sure.

2. Alanna Johnson in Vancouver wanted a quick solution to an age exemption. It turned out the strata minimum age for residency is 55; she’s only 38. The council treasurer told her they never ask people’s age so she assumed it was OK.

Tip: Don’t rely on verbal information. If you can’t obtain a written answer to solve the concern, something is likely wrong.

3. Mrs. Lu in Richmond wrote complaining that although she had bought a specific parking space in her building, council is telling her the spaces are all being moved and she can’t keep it.

Tip: You can’t buy or sell something that doesn’t belong to you. Common and limited common property (LCP) belongs to the strata corporation. The only way to reasonably secure your parking or storage lockers is by having an LCP designation or a separate parking or storage strata lot.

4. Jane in Burnaby e-mailed that when the refunds for the PST grants and legal settlements were returned, their property manager sent them to the new buyer, who is the current owner. She thought she would automatically get the money because she paid the dues.

Tip: Whether buying or selling, special arrangements in contracts and purchase should be negotiated and written by your lawyer. Saving $1,500 in legal fees may cost you $10,000.

5. Mrs. Hickson of Courtney was surprised to find her home inspection only applied to her unit, not the whole building. As a result she found out she had bought into a leaky condo, with little recourse against the inspector.

Tip: Home inspectors are currently an unregulated industry. When you request a home inspection for a condo, make sure it includes the building envelope and common areas. Verify that your inspector/

engineer is qualified and insured to provide a complete and reliable home inspection to protect your investment, including copies of their insurance policies.

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