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There is a new trend in the real estate market. Homebuyers are beginning to lean towards the purchase of a condo over a home. Reasons for this are numerous, and varied. A main one is that a condominium can provide a less expensive entry into the housing market and is also a low-maintenance option for those who would prefer to spend their time in ways other than mowing the lawn.

Misconceptions about condominium ownership can deter potential home buyers from even considering them as a purchase option.

A condo is like home ownership, but there are differences. When you buy a condo unit, you do become a homeowner, but condo ownership involves shared ownership. The condo owner has every right to make changes to their unit, but doesn't have the same freedom when it comes to common elements (i.e. lobby, pool, gym). Thus, a condo owner doesn't have the same free rein as a freehold house owner.

Some other changes, such as plumbing and electrical, would require viewing condominium rules, as some condos require the use of a qualified professional, and would not allow permission for changes to someone who plans a 'do-it-yourself' job. As well, there are portions of the actual unit purchased that are referred to as 'common property', which may include windows, patios and balconies. Thus, when it comes to common property within the unit itself, the condo owner doesn't have the freedom to make changes at will.

With this shared property, the condo owner will undoubtedly have to pay condo fees, sometimes known as maintenance fees, which is used to maintain the property. This condo fee applies, whether or not the condo owner actually even utilizes that shared property. For example, the condo owner may never even step foot in the pool, but will still be required to pay the full cost related to pool maintenance, which is incorporated within the condo fees.

There may be a misconception that some portion of the condo fees is basically money down the drain. After all, they are an additional expense, compared to owning a house, where no maintenance fees are required. However, these fees aren't the unnecessary drain that people are led to believe. It is important to realize that what's included in that condo fee are generally the building's upkeep and maintenance, but may also include heat, water, sewer, and garbage collection. Those condo fees are simply paying to maintain the condo lifestyle that the condo owner desired in the first place.

Moreover, condo owners shouldn't look at condo fees as a waste, because owning a home isn't necessarily a bargain when it comes to maintenance and upkeep. There are expenses that come with a house, pertaining to mowing the lawn, shoveling the snow, fixing the roof, etc. These expenses aren't mandatory like condo fees, but they are vital to maintaining the value of the home. It is also important to note that the responsibility to decide exactly where the money from condo fees is directed falls on the condo board of directors. This board is made up of owners just like the condo owner, so no one is profiting from the condo fees associated with a condo.

Many of the misconceptions that prevent home buyers from looking at condos for sale in the Waterloo Region are due to the potential home buyer not fully understanding how condo ownership works and exactly what the condo owner is responsible for. In a single-family dwelling, owners will have more control, which can make expenditures less noticeable. On the other hand, buying a condo leads to less hassle in maintaining the property which frees up more time for the condo owner to do other things. Benefits, such as less upkeep, or better security and amenities, can sway the balance of a potential home buyer into choosing a condo over a single family home.

If you are considering a condominium purchase, Dot can help you with any property listed at MLS Online™. This includes all the MLS listed properties available in our area as well as throughout Canada. For more information on these or any other properties please call Dot Turner at (519) 741-1400. You can also email Dot. She will be happy to hear from you!


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