Condo Ownership: Is it Right for Me?

So you're thinking of buying a condominium in Ottawa?

The traditional detached single family home is not the ideal situation for everyone. For those just starting out, affordability may be an issue, or an empty nester may want to downsize and not have the hassles of yard work and other maintenance. Or it can simply be that the traditional family home doesn't suit your lifestyle. When you own a condo, imagine it as the following: you own a whole building or complex jointly with your neighbours, and you have exclusive ownership or own the title to the space within the walls of your living quarters, or your condo unit. The common areas such as hallways, roofs, parking lots, green areas and pools are shared with the other owners in the complex, and you typically have a company manage the maintenance of these areas. The types of typical condominiums in Ottawa are apartment styles, townhome styles, and more recently stacked townhome or podium style condominiums. The more common type of condo is the apartment-style, in which you may have units on either side of you and above and/or below.

Condos are attractive to many buyers because they offer them a chance to own their residence and build equity at what is usually a lower cost than a single-family detached home in that area, or perhaps there are no options to own a single-family home in the area, such as in the business district of downtown Ottawa. Of course, there are exceptions to this, such as the luxurious condominiums that many developers are building in downtown and affluent neighbourhoods.

One factor to consider is that condominium owners generally must pay a condo association fee monthly. These fees go toward the cost of maintenance, repairs and upgrades to the community's common areas as well as the cost for the services of a property management company to manage all of these things.

However, if you would rather spend your free time doing something besides mowing the lawn, painting the outside of your home, or waiting at home for the pool maintenance person, then a condo may be for you.

Other advantages of owning a condo are the amenities that may be part of your complex such as pool, tennis court, fitness center or clubhouse, which for most would be unaffordable to have as private amenities in a home.

Of course, as with all things, there are some disadvantages to owning a condominium, such as the lack of privacy that a single-family home affords. You are also confined to the rules and laws of the community association, which can change over time, or restrict the use of a condo, such as pet regulations, or noise bylaws.

Is a condo the right living arrangement for you? Make an informed decision by weighing the pros and cons. Talk with a real estate professional who is familiar with condominiums and the laws that govern them. Preview the various condos in your area to get an idea of how the properties are run. If your real estate professional has sold condos in any of these complexes, find out the type of feedback he or she has received from clients.

Condo living isn't for everyone, but can be an attractive option for those who want to own instead of rent.

Take the Test

To determine if condo living is right for you, try this quick test.

Check which answer best describes your feelings:

  1. My privacy is:
     Not important to me.
     Somewhat important to me.
     So important I used to be a hermit.
  2. My need to be in control of my living environment can best be described as:
     NOT a control freak.
     Need to be in control, at least to some degree.
     As a matter of fact, someone DID die and make me king.
  3. Amenities such as swimming pools and tennis courts are:
     Very important to me.
     Not that important to me.
     I'm not the athletic type.
  4. I would respond to the following statement, "I like mowing the lawn, landscaping, and gardening," with:
     Are you kidding?
     I don't mind it.
     I love working outdoors.
  5. The following describes my position on doing my annual maintenance chores exactly on time:
     I thought gutters flushed themselves out.
     I am on top of it, give or take six months.
     I have a laminated schedule taped on the refrigerator.
  6. Living in an urban environment is:
     Vibrant, exciting, and convenient.
     Something I can either take or leave.
     Not for me, give me the country life!