By Christine Payne & Marina R. James
If you believe condos are apartment style-units in high-rise buildings, it’s time to change your thinking.
Today’s condos have diversified and expanded with a host of urban or rural locations, low-rise or high rise, townhouses or rowhouses, stacked townhouses, duplexes (one unit over another) or a side-by-side, triplexes (stack of three units) or “mixed use” buildings, such as condos above offices or store fronts. Condos come in various sizes with a variety of features and can be found in almost every price range, from affordable starter units to luxury living.
Condos in Manitoba are available for purchase as brand new, re-sale or retrofit conversions — that is, buildings that used to be apartments or businesses and have been renovated into unique condo properties. The Exchange District in Winnipeg and Osborne Village are two areas that have seen a combination of building conversions and new developments.
New condo development continues to take shape all over Winnipeg and its metro region, with development trends occurring even in some beach resort locations. These developments often offer unique landscapes and active outdoor pathways.
What makes condos so unique is the ownership structure. When you purchase a condo you own a unit as a share of the total ownership of the land, building and common areas with other unit owners. The advantage of this property type is you share common area costs with fellow condo owners.
Typically, owning a condo requires you to be a part of a condo association made of up owners and a board of directors, and often with the support of a property management company to provide oversight to budgets and maintenance and other building common area financial oversight requirements.
What are some of the benefits of condo living?
Say goodbye to your trusty lawn mower or snow blower. One of the biggest draws of condo ownership is the freedom from yard and exterior building maintenance — such as shoveling snow, mowing the lawn or repairing outside structures. Monthly condo fees may cover some or all of these service expenses.
However, not all condominium budgets are created equal, so you will need to know what costs are contained within your monthly condo fee as opposed to your own costs prior to making an offer to purchase.
You’ll want to know, for instance, whether you’ll be paying for window washing or repairs to bricks — you can typically find this information in your condo’s governing documents.
One of the most important aspects of owning a condo is the reserve fund. By law in Manitoba, a portion of your condo fees goes into a reserve fund. This fund is a placeholder for long-term building capital requirements and covers major repairs like replacing windows and roofing without additional costs to owners. Ensuring you research the status of the condominium reserve fund along with understanding the annual operating budget is important because you will want to make sure that it aligns with your expectations and your budget.
Choose the best fit for you and your family. If you prefer to live on one floor or in a one- or two-bedroom home, condos allow you to own your own space rather than rent.
Common areas like pools and recreation rooms offer opportunities to socialize with neighbours. Some condo developments cater to specific groups — such as young professionals, families and older adults. And many condominiums are pet-friendly, non-smoking and may offer a certain demographic that suits your social preference.
Some condos even offer five-star level services to make your home-sweet-home all the sweeter. Think concierge service and a-la-carte options like parking valet, security attendants, home cleaning and laundry (at a cost, of course); spa, salon and massage; a fully equipped gym with fitness classes; pool, hot tub and sauna; games room, party room, board room, library, film-screening theatre, even a guest suite available for overnight visitors. The list is long and luxe and growing!
Other benefits include:
• Interior customization — Unlike renting, you’re free to paint the walls, put up pictures and renovate.
• Affordability — Depending on where you live, some condos are more affordable than owning a home — and a mortgage plus condo fees may be the equivalent to rent.
• Location, location, location! — The choices are diverse and growing. A condo may be a very attractive option for you. Imagine the views while living riverfront or the ease of walking down to the Forks or if downtown appeals, gain access to dining, public transportation and activities such as the Goldeyes, and MTS Centre.
• Lock-n-leave — For those who travel, are snowbirds or summer lake goers, owning a condo can be a seamless lifestyle choice. Not having to worry about yard maintenance or building security is an added benefit. And you may feel safer with neighbours on either side, and worry less
if you are young and restless, travel or are enjoying Manitoba’s cottage country.
With the many benefits to those considering a condo lifestyle, your REALTOR® can assist you in purchasing, selling and understanding more about what options are available for you.