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13 Essential Things to Know Before Buying A Condo

Are you thinking about buying a condo? It’s an exciting decision that can offer many benefits, from convenience to community living. However, before you take the plunge, there are some essential things you need to know. In this blog post, we’ll share 13 crucial factors to consider before buying a condo. Whether you’re a first-time buyer or an experienced investor, this information will equip you with the knowledge needed to make an informed decision, ensuring your condo purchase is a sound investment and a perfect fit for your needs.

What is a Condo?

First off, it’s important to understand what a condominium actually is. A condominium, commonly known as a condo, is a type of living space similar to an apartment but independently sellable and, therefore, regarded as real estate. In Canada, when you purchase a condo, you own a private dwelling called a “unit” within a larger building or community, but you also share ownership of common areas such as elevators, hallways, grounds, and amenities. This shared ownership typically comes with monthly fees designed to maintain these common areas. It’s a popular choice for many Canadians due to its affordability compared to single-family homes, as well as the convenience and community spirit it offers.

What To Consider Before Buying a Condo

When considering buying a condo in Canada, there are several important factors to take into account. From understanding the difference between condos and apartments to choosing the right size for your needs, these considerations will help you make an informed decision.

#1. Understanding the Difference: Condos Vs. Apartments

Before diving into the condo market, it’s crucial to grasp the distinction between condos and apartments. While both offer a similar style of living, condos provide individual ownership of units within a larger building or community. In contrast, apartments are typically rented from a landlord or property management company. Understanding this difference will help you determine which type of housing suits your lifestyle and financial goals.

#2. Ownership Comparisons: Owning a Condo Vs. Owning a House

When deciding between owning a condo or a house, it’s essential to weigh the pros and cons of each. Owning a condo often comes with shared responsibilities for common areas and amenities, along with monthly fees. On the other hand, owning a house provides more independence but also entails full responsibility for maintenance and repairs. Considering your lifestyle, financial situation, and desired level of involvement in property management will help guide your decision-making process.

#3. The Importance of Location in Your Condo Choice

Location plays a crucial role when choosing a condo. Consider factors such as proximity to essential amenities like schools, hospitals, grocery stores, and public transportation. Additionally, assess the neighbourhood’s safety, walkability, and overall desirability. Researching the future development plans in the area can also provide insights into potential growth and property value appreciation.

#4. Considering Privacy in a Condo Setting

Privacy is a significant consideration when living in a condo. Assess the building’s layout and design to ensure sufficient privacy between units, especially if noise or close proximity to neighbours is a concern. Look for condos with well-insulated walls and soundproofing measures. Understanding the condominium’s rules and regulations regarding noise restrictions and privacy policies will help you determine if they align with your lifestyle preferences.

#5. Evaluating Access to Land and Outdoor Space

When buying a condo in Canada, evaluate the availability of land and outdoor spaces. Some condos offer amenities like parks, gardens, or rooftop terraces, providing residents with opportunities for relaxation and recreation. If outdoor space is important to you, consider whether the condo has balconies or patios, as well as the accessibility of nearby parks or green spaces. Additionally, check if there are any restrictions on using these outdoor areas or if they require additional fees for maintenance.

#6. Navigating Condo Association’s Rules

If you’re buying a condo, it’s essential to understand and navigate the rules set by the condominium association. These rules govern various aspects of condo living, such as noise restrictions, pet policies, parking regulations, and use of common areas. Familiarize yourself with these rules to ensure they align with your lifestyle and preferences. Additionally, consider the association’s management style and level of community involvement to gauge the overall atmosphere and sense of harmony within the condominium.

#7. Understanding the Price Associated with Condo Amenities

Condo amenities can greatly enhance the quality of life for residents, but it’s important to understand the associated costs. Amenities such as fitness centers, swimming pools, concierge services, and shared spaces are typically funded through monthly maintenance fees paid by condo owners. Consider whether the amenities provided align with your lifestyle and whether you are willing to pay the associated fees. Evaluating the value and frequency of your expected use of these amenities will help you make an informed decision about the overall cost-benefit analysis.

#8. Considering Sunlight Exposure for Your Condo

Sunlight exposure is an often overlooked but important factor when choosing a condo. Consider the orientation of the unit and the availability of natural light throughout the day. A well-lit condo not only creates a pleasant living environment but also offers potential energy savings. North-facing units may receive less direct sunlight, while south-facing units may have more sun exposure. Assess your preference for natural light and its impact on your daily routines, as well as the potential effects on heating and cooling costs.

#9. Assessing the Age of the Condo

When considering buying a condo, it’s important to assess the age of the building. Older condos may have their own charm and character, but they may also come with potential maintenance issues and outdated infrastructure. Newer condos may offer modern amenities and energy-efficient features but could come with a higher price tag. Consider your preferences, budget, and willingness to invest in potential renovations or repairs when evaluating the age of the condo.

#10. Evaluating the Size of the Condo for Your Needs

The size of the condo is a crucial factor to consider when making a purchase decision. Evaluate the layout and square footage of the unit to ensure it meets your current and future needs. Take into account factors such as the number of bedrooms, bathrooms, storage space, and living areas. Consider whether the space allows for flexibility and customization according to your lifestyle preferences. It’s important to strike a balance between having enough space for comfort and functionality without compromising on affordability.

#11. The Benefits of Guest Parking in Condo Living

One aspect of condo living that is often overlooked is the availability of guest parking. Assess whether the condominium provides designated guest parking spaces or has nearby street parking options for visitors. Having ample guest parking can make hosting friends, family, and other guests more convenient and enjoyable. Additionally, consider any parking restrictions or additional fees associated with guest parking to ensure a seamless experience for your visitors.

#12. Choosing the Best Floor for Your Condo

Choosing the right floor for your condo is an important decision that can impact your daily living experience. Higher floors may provide better views, increased privacy, and less noise from street-level activities. However, they may also come with longer elevator wait times and the potential for less accessibility. Lower floors offer convenience and easier access to amenities but may compromise on certain aspects such as privacy and views. Consider your preferences for views, accessibility, and noise levels when selecting the best floor for your condo.

#13. Insurance Matters: Residential Insurance vs. Condo Insurance

When it comes to insurance, there are important distinctions between residential insurance and condo insurance for homeowners in Canada. Residential insurance focuses on the replacement of your home and utilizes evaluation tools to determine the cost of rebuilding a new custom home.

On the other hand, condo insurance does not involve an evaluation. Instead, the client selects the contents limit, which often includes coverage for improvements and betterment (upgrades made by the condo owner or previous owners). Condo policies also consider common elements as a percentage of the contents limit. In cases where the master policy falls short in coverage, the condo policy provides an assessment limit, usually 100 to 200% of the contents limit.

The contents limit for condo insurance is a critical factor, and it’s entirely defined by the client. A previously adequate limit of $100,000 may not be enough today, especially considering the underestimation often done regarding the value of personal belongings. It’s important to remember that insurance usually replaces old items with brand-new ones, which can significantly increase replacement costs. For instance, your $5 T-shirt might cost $40 to replace. Additionally, condo insurance covers additional living expenses up to 20% and provides 125% additional protection for the building itself.

Master condo policies have evolved over time, often having higher deductibles and lower limits, which can lead to potential coverage gaps. One significant change is that unit improvements, defined as those items above what’s included in the Master Policy/unit owners agreement, are now covered up to 100%. However, this might only entitle you to a room without finishings according to your master condo policy. Also, Loss Assessment charges are 125% to assist policyholders when there’s a shortage in the master policy.

It’s worth noting that condo insurance rates dramatically decreased about ten years ago. Still, as master policies premiums increased, a trend of lower limits and higher deductibles emerged, leading the owner-level policy to payout more frequently to cover gaps in the master policy. Therefore, understanding your entitlement to the master policy is paramount; otherwise, after a disaster like a fire, you might end up with merely an empty space with concrete finishings.

In conclusion, when purchasing a condo in Canada, it is crucial to consider various factors that can significantly impact your living experience. From evaluating the location and privacy in a condo setting to assessing access to outdoor spaces and understanding condo association rules, each aspect plays a vital role in finding the perfect home. By carefully considering these factors, you can ensure that your condo choice aligns with your lifestyle, preferences, and long-term goals.


In conclusion, when purchasing a condo in Canada, it is crucial to consider various factors that can significantly impact your living experience. From evaluating the location and privacy in a condo setting to assessing access to outdoor spaces and understanding condo association rules, each aspect plays a vital role in finding the perfect home. By carefully considering these factors, you can ensure that your condo choice aligns with your lifestyle, preferences, and long-term goals.

Secure Your Condo or Residential Insurance with WMIB

When it comes to protecting your condo or residential property, trust the expertise of Will Marshall Insurance Brokers. With years of experience in the insurance industry, our team understands the unique needs of homeowners and condo owners alike. We offer comprehensive insurance solutions tailored to your specific requirements, ensuring that you have the coverage you need in case of unexpected events. Whether you’re looking for residential insurance for your home or condo insurance for your condominium unit, we provide personalized service and competitive rates to give you peace of mind. Contact Will Marshall Insurance Brokers today to secure your condo or residential insurance and protect your valuable assets.

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