The reason for a lot of people to buy a condo in Calgary is based on choosing a certain lifestyle. It often has nothing to do with age or even money, but more with being able to walk out the door and don’t worry about a thing. The yard and lawn care, the snow removal, the maintenance of the exterior, insurance, it is all often part of the responsibility of the (board of the) condominium corporation as a whole. This suits the life style of many Calgarians.
When you buy a condo in Calgary, it is important to understand that this is different from a single family home. It has to do with the legal set up of the structure called condominium corporation. The best way to look at it, is as looking at a corporation with shares and shareholders. Each condo owner, owns his unit, but he or she also owns his share of the so called common area. This is the part of the whole physical complex that is not exclusively owned by one person but by all unit owners. Good examples are the hall ways, elevators, roof etc.
The condominium corporation is run by the board. The board consists of unit owners that are chosen by (other) unit owners for one year at the Annual general meeting. The board has the authority to make decisions for all day to day business. If there are other decisions that need to be made (like a special assessment) the board does not have that authority by itself, but they have to call for a general meeting. Decisions can then only be made if 2/3 of all unit owners are present. Either way, to buy a condo means being involved in decisions just as you would have in your own single family home. The difference is, you are not the only one that has something to say.
In the buying process it is important to have a real estate agent that understands the complexity around condominiums. A good way to find that out is to hire a real estate agent that has a CCS designation. It stands for Certified Condominium Specialist. Besides this designation, it is also important to hire an agent that does a lot of business (did you know that over 50 percent of the agents only does one or two transactions a year?). These are the agents that have experience and are better able to protect your best interest.
When you and your realtor put in the offer to buy a condo in Calgary, it is extremely important to put in (amongst others) the condominium document review condition. The seller needs to supply you with certain condominium documents and many buyers get a scare when they see how big the stack of documents is. We are talking about bylaws, financial statements, a reserve fund study, minutes of the board and the AGM etc. Unless you are very sophisticated in this area, we always recommend that you hire a specialized condominium document review company to do this for you. They are able to give you a report and tell you whether or not this condo (corporation) is a wise investment.
This information above will give you most of the basic information on how to buy a condo in Calgary. There are many other things we can tell you regarding the purchase of these types of homes, but we will do that through our blog posts. Keep an eye out for these and you will be very well educated by the time you are ready to purchase.