Introduction to Condos for Sale
In Ontario, more home buyers than ever are considering condos for sale as an alternative to freehold home ownership.
There are already over 800,000 condo units and over 1.6 million residents in the province, and almost 60 per cent of new homes built in Ontario are condos and the search for Condos for sale London Ontario MLS is ever increasing.
The Condominium Authority of Ontario developed this Condominium Buyer’s Guide to help potential condo buyers understand what condo ownership means, and to provide some background information to help you decide if condo ownership is right for you.
- +800,000 condo units
- 1.6 million residents
- Almost 60% of new homes built in Ontario are condos
What is a condo?
The word “condo” means many different things to different people. When some people hear the word “condo,” they immediately think of high-rise buildings dotting the skyline. While high-rise condos are certainly common, condos can come in all shapes and sizes, including:
- Low-rise buildings
- Townhouse complexes / semi-detached homes
- Fully detached homes
- Mixed residential and commercial buildings
- Commercial lots or malls
In fact, the word “condo” refers to a specific type of property ownership rather than a specific type of building. Almost any type of property you can imagine can be a condo – for example, there are many condominium corporations that have no residential units, and there are even some condos that are parking lots. This is why London Ontario Condos for sale are ever more interesting.
What are condominium corporations?
Condo units don’t just exist in a vacuum – instead, every condo unit is a part of a condominium corporation. A condominium corporation is a legal entity that is created when the condominium corporation is registered at a land registry office.
When you purchase a condo, you become a part of a condominium community. That means that you are required to abide by the Condominium Act, 1998, as well as your condo corporation’s declaration, by-laws, and rules (commonly referred to as your corporation’s governing documents).
What do you own? Buying a Condo!
When you buying a condo, you are purchasing more than just your individual unit. You also share ownership of the condominium corporation’s common elements and assets with the other owners of the condominium corporation. That means that you are all jointly responsible for the costs associated with their repair and maintenance, in accordance with the proportion of your ownership interest set out in your condominium corporation’s declaration. Ever so important knowing what you own and what you own collectively before buying a Condo in London Ontario.
What are common elements?
Common elements are the parts of the condominium corporation that are jointly owned by all the owners. Examples of common elements include your building lobby, hallways, elevators, stairways, pool, gym, party room, gardens, parking lot, and/or other amenities. They may also include structural elements (like the walls between the units) and things like plumbing and electrical work.
Once you have purchased your condo, you will be required to pay what are called common expenses fees (otherwise commonly known as condo fees or maintenance fees). These fees are usually paid monthly, and are used by the corporation to pay for things such as:
- The cost of repairs and maintenance to the common elements
- The cost of your condominium manager or management service provider
- The condominium corporation’s insurance policies
- Utilities costs (depending on whether owners pay directly or a share)
- Services, such as garbage or snow removal
- Payments to vendors (e.g., cleaners, landscapers, elevator repair / maintenance, etc.)
A portion of your common expenses fees will be set aside and added to your condominium corporation’s reserve fund. A reserve fund is a bank account that all condominium corporations are required to maintain, and which is used to pay for major repairs to the common elements. Unfortunately, sometimes the corporation will need to perform unanticipated repairs or maintenance. If the reserve fund doesn’t have enough money to pay for these repairs, all of the owners must pay a portion of the total costs, either as a lump sum or in installments. These unexpected amounts are called special assessments and can sometimes cost thousands of dollars.
Your role in the London Ontario Condos Community
Being a condo owner means that you have certain rights and responsibilities. Along with your fellow owners, you are responsible for making many important decisions in your condominium corporation.
You can participate in the decision-making process by:
- Attending and voting at your condominium corporation’s owners’ meetings
- Participating in the election of your condo corporation’s board of directors
- Serving on your condo corporation’s board of directors yourself
While serving on the board may not be right for everyone, it is important for you to attend owners’ meetings held by your condominium corporation (or send an individual authorized to act on your behalf called a proxy) whenever possible. Owners’ meetings, like your condominium corporation’s annual general meeting, are an important opportunity for you to make your voice heard. You must comply with the decisions made at these meetings, regardless of whether or not you attended. It is important to read the minutes of meetings and other information sent to members (e.g., the condo newsletter), as well as the corporation’s budget and financial statements. While many decisions must be made by the owners, some of the most important decisions are made by the condominium corporation’s board of directors.