According to the 2016 Census, nearly 22% of all Calgarians live in a condo. This is quite higher than the overall Canadian statistic of 13.3%. Condos are becoming more and more popular as more people move into high density housing locations.
What is a condo, anyway?
A condominium, referred to as a “condo”, is a housing complex where each unit is owned not rented by an individual. The complex can be managed by either a management company and/or the community itself.
Types of Condos:
In Alberta there are two types of condominiums, conventional and bare land. We have compiled the key differences between the two of them here for you, as well as information about what condo fees can look like. This will allow you to make an informed choice for your next home purchase.
Conventional condos are the most well known type of condo. These are many individual units located within a building, such as apartments. In this case, residents purchase the unit (generally) from the walls inward. This means that they are responsible for any maintenance or changes made on the interior of the unit as long as it falls within the corporation’s bylaws. The exterior of the unit is the responsibility of the condominium corporation, including any maintenance or repairs. These areas are called “common areas” and also include things like any parking garages, exercise or party rooms, and elevators. When purchasing a condo, you can check the condo declaration to see what exactly you will be responsible for as a homeowner and what are considered common areas. A housing complex consisting of townhomes can also be condominiumized as a conventional condo, but could be considered the second type of condominium corporation. The condo’s plans or declaration will be able to tell you what kind of condo it is.
The second type of condominium corporation is called a bare land condominium. These are not as well known, and can consist of either townhomes or even single detached homes. In this case the entire home, including the façade, is the responsibility of the home-owner. Generally the common elements of a bare land condo are the roadways, sidewalks, lamp posts, and any clubhouse or large landscaping elements present on the property. Any condo fees paid by the residents will go towards the maintenance and replacement of these items. Even in this case, the corporation’s individual bylaws still would apply to any home in the complex, so there could be constraints on the appearance and maintenance of the home to keep up with the overall feel of the neighborhood. If you are considering purchasing a home that is part of a bare land condominium, make sure to read and understand the declaration and any supporting documentation.
What are condo fees?
Condo fees are monthly fees that each homeowner must pay that contribute to the overall maintenance and repairs of any condo common elements.
Condo fees are further split into two separate accounts, the Operating Fund, and the Reserve Fund. The Operating Fund is used for regular ongoing maintenance of the building. This could be snow removal, general landscaping costs, or any property management fees. The Reserve Fund is to be exclusively used for large repairs or replacement of common elements. This could be re-paving the asphalt roadway, a major overhaul of the elevator system, or window replacements. According to Calgary condo law, a Reserve Fund Study must be completed at least every 5 years. This is when the condo is physically inspected by a professional, such as an Engineer, and a report is created detailing any upcoming capital expenses for the maintenance and repair of the building in the next 30+ years. Reserve Fund Studies are a useful way to see the health of the condo, and also to be aware of any large capital expenses in the near future. As each condo varies greatly, condo fees can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars per year.
If you would like more information about purchasing a condo in the Calgary area, please don’t hesitate to contact us! We would be happy to help you with all your real estate needs.