I’m looking to buy my first property; it’ll be a condo. Where should I start and where can I find more information?

Congratulations to you in planning your first property purchase. It’s a big step; you’re wise to be doing some research before diving in, both to determine that condo living fits your lifestyle and in taking the time to learn what is involved in a condo purchase and its ownership.

My first property purchase was a townhouse condo in Mississauga. I enjoyed the low maintenance that condo living offered; a bit of gardening, without lawn mowing, and the joy of very minimal snow shoveling, were a couple of my favourite perks.

Condo life has its conveniences, but it also has obligations not associated with freehold houses. Condominium corporations are governed by the Condominium Act, 1998 that permits a condo corporation to make by-laws and rules that I and all residents are to adhere to. It is important that you become familiar with a condominium’s by-laws and rules when considering ownership. For example, someone who owns four Great Danes (dogs) will want to carefully review a condominium’s rules for any restrictions pertaining to the number and, or size of pets permitted by the corporation before considering a purchase in a particular building. While there are many pet-friendly condominiums out there, there are others with rules that will not be bent. I recommend working with a salesperson or broker experienced in condominium transactions to assist you in understanding the nuances of a condo purchase and ownership.

Another consideration when purchasing in a condominium is that you will also be joining a community of owners that you’ll have an opportunity to actively be part of. Knowing your rights and responsibilities is a big part of condominium ownership. Some of that responsibility includes the opportunity to attend general meetings and exercising your voting rights on major decisions, the election of board members and serving on committees, as desired. I found fulfilling my obligations as an owner interesting and informative.

Recently, the Condominium Authority of Ontario (CAO) released a condominium buyers’ guide with detailed information for consumers who are looking to buy a residential pre-construction or resale unit in a condominium. The guide is readily available on the CAO’s website at no cost.

Since this is your first purchase, I suggest you take a look at other Ask Joe articles available on the Toronto Star website, where we’ve shared how to select a salesperson and tips for first time buyers. You’ll also find helpful resources on the Real Estate Council of Ontario website.

If you have a question for Joe about the home buying or selling process, please email information@reco.on.ca.

Joseph Richer is Registrar of the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO). He is in charge of the administration and enforcement of all rules that govern real estate professionals in Ontario. You can find more tips at reco.on.ca, follow on Twitter @RECOhelps or on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/RECOhelps.

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