The Pros & Cons of Condo Living in Lethbridge

We weigh the pros and cons of condo living and what you should know before jumping into the condominium market. Condos can be low-rise buildings, townhouses, freestanding houses, duplexes, or triplexes. They can be brand new, resell, or conversion homes. The unique feature of a condo is that you own your unit, but you share ownership of the land, building and any common areas. You split the costs for these with other members of your condo association, and there will either be a property management company or a board of directors that make all of the big decisions surrounding maintenance and physical changes.

Many people are becoming interested in the concept of low maintenance condos, but are they a smart choice? We weigh the pros and cons.

Pros:

  • Someone else handles the exterior maintenance: Shovelling the snow, mowing the lawn, or repairing exterior structures? Your monthly fees cover all of this!
  • Many major costs are shared: Need new windows? New roof?
  • Price: Depending on where you live, a condo may be less expensive than a freestanding home!
  • Amenities: Some condos can offer benefits you wouldn’t find in a standard home, this may include things such as a gym, swimming pool or a party room.
  • Lifestyle: Condos allow you to own your space rather than just rent. Common areas like a pool or gym provide opportunities to socialize with neighbours. Many condo developments cater specifically to groups of people including young professionals, families and older adults.
  • Customization: Unlike renting, you’re free to paint the walls, put up that shelf or renovate!
  • Security: Condos are said to offer greater security than a freehold home, as some building offer a secure entrance or even a doorman. You may feel safer having neighbours on either side, particularly if you’re a frequent traveller.

Cons:

  • Any form of home ownership has risks
  • Price: Dependent on location and luxury, you may not necessarily be saving money, especially after factoring in condo fees.
  • Condo fees don’t disappear when your mortgage is paid off and are likely to increase as time passes, perks such as swimming pools or elevators tend to require more maintenance and can cause costs to increase, increased condo fees may make it more difficult to sell your condo.
  • There are rules and regulations: Quiet hours may be in effect, other rules may be established by the condo board pertaining to pets, parking and garbage disposal. At a minimum, you’ll want to know the rules, who sets them and who enforces them.

Tips for first-time condo buyers:

  • Get some expert help: A real estate agent and a lawyer who have experience with condos can help you navigate the condominium market, and minimize your risks.
  • Get to know the legislation in your province
  • Learn about different types of ownership; There are different types of legal ownership - leasehold interest, freehold, tenancy-in-common and joint tenancy.
  • Compare condo fees; The number doesn’t tell the whole story; you’ll want to know what your money will be spent on, and what is or is not covered via the condo board.
  • Learn the rules, bylaws and regulations you should know these in advance
  • Ask about occupancy if you’re planning to rent out your condo, make sure it’s allowed!
  • Learn about your condo board: Is the building well managed? Does it have a healthy reserve fund? What work needs to be done? Get your home inspector to look into this for you, too!
  • Get the right insurance: Insurance included in your condo fees only covers the common areas and the original building, it’s up to you to cover anything that happens inside your unit.

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