Condo terminology can be confusing. Every time I’ve explained a few specific terms in detail, the response has been terrific. Here are a few more to, hopefully, help clarify the jargon.
•Maintenance fees: This is an expense that you pay towards your condominium’s corporation, controlled to a large extent by your board of directors. It goes towards maintaining the building as well as paying for some/all of your utilities. These utilities can include any combination of heat, hydro, water or air conditioning.
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Sometimes, too much emphasis is placed on whether all of your utilities are included or not. Believe me, even if all of your utilities are included in your maintenance fee — meaning no other monthly utility bills are coming your way — it doesn’t necessarily mean everything is taken care of all of the time. The common mistake many condo owners make is thinking that since the utilities are included, blasting the AC while you’re away on a weekend getaway won t change anything. Someone is going to pay for it and it’s going to be the owners via accelerating maintenance fees. The point is, regardless of what is and isn’t included in your fee, it’s in everyone’s best interest to conserve.
•Den vs. bedroom: The technical difference between the two is that a bedroom must have a closet. However, if you’re planning on using the den as a second bedroom and getting your closet from Ikea, you should know that dens are often too small to comfortably be used that way. So, if you re looking to save money by going the one-bedroom-plus-den route, hoping to live with a roommate, you’d do well to see a few of your options before jumping all the way on the bandwagon.
• Loft: If I had a dime for every buyer who came to me saying they only want a loft, I’d have a lot of spare change on my hands because, let’s face it, what can you do with dimes these days? Chances are, if you want a loft you re-envisioning 12-ft. ceilings, floor-to-ceiling windows, exposed brick and piping, slate/wood floors and an overall large and spacious living space. Congratulations — you are picturing an authentic loft! But like all good things, you will get only what you pay for. I’m sure you’ve heard friends talk about how they’ve seen lofts on the MLS listed for $200,000-$250,000. These spaces, my dear friends, are quite regular condo units that were simply labelled as lofts. The authentic lofts tend to run upwards of $325,000. The choice is yours whether you want to dive into such a purchase or start out with a cheaper new condo unit.
• Parking: If there’s one thing you should know about parking, it’s that anyone who had the chance to purchase a spot along with their condo three years ago and didn’t is probably kicking themselves today. Parking space prices have risen dramatically in the last few years. If you can get a parking spot, get it! In terms of what to watch out for definition-wise, in some areas (especially King West) the parking will be listed as included. This can be misleading because in some areas, parking is available at a monthly cost, but what you obtain is a city permit to park on the street. What’s important to understand here is that your permit does not reserve that spot on the street right across from your home/condo, but simply gives you the legal right to park anywhere on that street. So when you’re deciding how much you like that specific space, remember to factor in the full reality of your parking situation if parking is an important factor.
I hope a few of your un-asked questions have been answered. Remember that part of growing up is realizing that the homework you had to do may not have been worth it, but now that you don’t have to do it, it can really come in handy.
For any questions on this article or anything about real estate in general, e-mail Amit at firstname.lastname@example.org.