Condominium Ownership – (revisited)

It always amazes me how few property owners (either already owning a condo or contemplating buying into one, exchanging their home) know the consequences of being a condo unit holder. A condo is not just an apartment, far from it, or a living space, in fact condo ownership is equivalent to any share ownership in any corporation. A condo corporation is the overriding corporate entity responsible for jointly owning, managing and controlling a condominium building, whereby each owner has the right to vote (usually during an annually occuring General Meeting) jointly with all co-owners. As it is impossible and not practical that all owners in a condo building also manage the day to day operation, there will usually be a property management company – who are non-owners – responsible for this, paid for by all condo owners. Mostly – also for practical purposes – represented by a Council, all of whom should be owners.
In other words, condo owners cannot easily control what changes or improvements they may want to make to their units, nor can they control (except by special vote) what expenses are required for the building and grounds. If expenditures are mismanaged, it can blow a big hole into the (jointly owned) contingency fund.
The only advice I can give to prospective purchasers of a condo: look closely at who manages a condo building, even more closely check out the finances, how much is the remaining contingency fund.
It is well known that buildings depreciate at an alarming rate, the only appreciation comes from the land base and/or is market driven. And older buildings in the absence of sufficient funds require regular special levies over and above the monthly condo fees. In the long run this can cost a unit holder a fortune.
Alternatives to condo ownership are: Either remain in your house and stay in control. Or, sell out and rent, use the money for paying a portion of the rental costs. This way, you can travel whenever you want.

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