Halifax’s Condo Real Estate Specialists

September 2013

Do I Really Need To Have A Condo Inspected? Posted on Sep 25, 2013

We all think that a condo is a safe bet because know that condo fees cover exterior and common area maintenance so we shouldn’t need to get an inspection, right? This question often comes up when I talk to clients who are looking to save a few bucks when it comes to closing costs, but a proper inspection can often bring to light issues that are worth having a professional opinion on. I thought it would help to ask a home inspector what he thought about inspecting condos before committing to buy. Glen Strang is one of our trusted partners and the owner of Amerispec Inspection Services who have been in business since 1995, this is what he had to say:
A condominium is a building like any other home that has repair and maintenance requirements. A qualified home inspector will give you information regarding the condition of the dwelling unit and its major systems, including the performance of the electrical, heating and plumbing systems in the unit.
Defects in structural components with the building overall can also often be detected through an inspection of the interior of the unit itself. This process can potentially alert the purchaser to any major repairs or replacements that will be necessary in the near future. A deteriorated common element such as the roof or siding that has resulted in leakage to the interior of a unit dwelling can mean that a large portion of the money that has been saved in the reserve fund may soon be required. This situation can result in the potential for a ”special assessment” or an increase to a unit owners monthly condo fees for a period of time, based on their percent- age ownership in the corporation.
The home inspection is also a useful process to help educate the purchaser on the importance of regular maintenance such as ensuring that seams in the bathrooms that are prone to water penetrations are kept well sealed.  A home inspection will also advise a purchaser on the benefits of performing regular maintenance to appliances such as Heat Recovery Ventilators. A properly maintained ventilation system will help to promote positive air quality in the dwelling itself as it is designed to maintain acceptable humidity levels within the unit.
 If you have any questions about condo inspections, or any other home inspection questions for that matter, don’t hesitate to contact Glen at glen.strang@amerispec.ca or call: 902-469-1119.

As always if you are looking to buy or sell a condo feel free to contact us.


5 Things to Look Out for When Purchasing a Condo Posted on Sep 16, 2013

So you’ve been considering buying a condo for a while and you are starting to think that those late night MLS research sessions should finally turn into actual viewings. Well here are 5 things that you need to read before you start writing up an offer.

1. Location, location, location!!

 We all know that when looking at a condo building we have to remember the oldest saying in real estate “location, location, location.” The location needs to have access to the things you want like a grocery store, booze boutique, coffee shops etc. But one thing that people don’t always consider is what the area is going to look like in four or five years. Cities are living, breathing and growing entities and you want to know if and what is being built around the condo you might buy. These developments can be a benefit to you down the road if the new building has a hot new coffee shop or store in it, or maybe it’s bringing a new affluent workforce that will want to buy in your building. If a city is doing it right, some of it’s older low-rise buildings in the downtown will come down and be replaced with taller structures, this may jeopardize that stunning view you just fell in love with, making your particular unit less attractive to buyers down the road. The Buyer’s Agent you have carefully and painstakingly selected to guide you through the buying process should be keeping their pulse on what is going on in the areas that you are looking. That seemingly cute little neighbourhood your condo is overlooking may be a 10 story building in the next few years, if you know this, it might make all the difference whether you buy on the 9th or the 11th floor.

2.  Are there any special assessments being considered for this condo?

If you are in the market for a condo, you should be considering the condo fees, if you are not aware of this, or need more info on what they are click HERE to get caught up. There are some other things that you need to keep your eyes open for. Generally speaking, in Halifax the condo doc’s are sent over after an offer is accepted. This package should contain many things, among them should be the last few condo meeting minutes, at the very least the last meeting’s minutes. These are important reading as they should discuss any special assessments that may have recently been carried out or (more importantly) WILL be carried out in the near future. If there is a special assessment, it can affect you greatly as they can be as high as $15K a year and can be paid for multiple years above and beyond the regular condo fees. It is not uncommon to ask a seller to pay them out before closing, but that isn’t always possible, so you must be aware of this.


3.  Do the condo bylaws exclude me from living the way I want?

So you have found a condo you love in a location that’s perfect and your Buyer’s Agent assures you that a new Eaton Centre isn’t going up directly in front of your floor to ceiling windows, there’s even a little park down the street for Linus your pitbull-sheltie mix who loves to run in circles. This is where the contents of those by-laws become quite interesting; they should say something about if dogs are allowed or not. Most buildings allow dogs, but might only allow them at the discretion of the condo board or up to a certain weight. You can be fairly certain that they will exclude American Staffordshire Terriers.
4.  Is the condition of the condo something that I can live with?
 People sometimes make the mistake of buying a condo that needs more upgrades than they can handle, it is uncommon with my clients due to my sage wisdom and guidance, however I have heard of it happening. The client loves the space, but the kitchen needs to be opened up, and all the counters replaced, and the bathroom needs a total makeover. We see a lot of home reno shows these days, but be aware that a kitchen or bathroom reno is not cheap and is not for the faint of heart; it will take longer than you think and cost much more than you think. When you buy a place, you should almost always expect to have to paint and a good mortgage broker can often get you a purchase plus improvement deal to allow for the necessary renos. All this being said, if the place you are looking at needs a new everything, are you willing and able to do the work, or should you just keep looking until you find something that suits a little better?
5.  If you can, buy two bedrooms
 Even if it’s just you or you and your significant other, the extra space will be needed someday, either as a place for a friend when they come to visit or to crash when you are in the dog house. The extra space will allow you to live there comfortably a little longer and two bedrooms can tend to sell a little quicker than one bedrooms.
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