Home ownership can be one of the most rewarding decisions you can make. Creating a home that you and your family can enjoy for years to come is something most of us aspire to have. Whether it’s a single family home, condo, or townhouse, you want a space that you can call your own. However, if the home you choose is part of a strata, there might be a few things you need to take into consideration before you decide to buy a townhouse or condo in a strata.
Before You Buy a Strata Property
One of the first things you need to do when choosing to live in a strata is to do your due diligence. Make sure you read the meeting minutes, strata bylaws and engineering reports carefully. They are a treasure trove of helpful information that will assist you in deciding if the property is right for you. The last thing you want is to be on the hook for an unexpected extra cost, such as a repair levy, or find out that you are not able to have your large dog or exotic pet in your unit until after you purchased the property.
Monthly Strata Fees
Another thing to consider is that there will be monthly strata fees to include in your budget. If you have never lived in a strata before, here is a quick overview of strata fees. They can include common property maintenance such as landscapers and trash removal, or regular building maintenance like painting or pressure washing. These maintenance costs would be similar to those of an owner of a non strata property. However, they are monthly and the costs will likely to increase every year. Make sure you are getting good value for your money.
Strata Council Making Decisions for You
Just like in the real world, your strata is a democracy where you have a say in who becomes part of the strata council. If you don’t like something, you have the opportunity to change it.
You can submit your name to become part of the strata council, or you can stay off council and have the council make the decisions. Often, there is opportunity for owner input, but ultimately, the decisions that directly impact your daily life in your home will be made by council. You may not agree with all the decisions being made by the strata council, but you will have to obey them or face the consequences which can be anything from a letter informing you of the violation or a monetary fine. These rules are enforced by the bylaws the council has established.
Make sure you know the bylaws before buying a strata property. You are entitled to read them before you make your purchase. If you have specific needs, such as pets, there might be restrictions on what you can and cannot do. Some bylaws prevent certain outdoor decorations and most have noise and behavior ordinances. Often the rules are meant to keep the peace for all neighbours, but remember, Just because you own the condo or townhouse doesn’t technically mean you have full control over it.
Extra and Special Levies
It is important to read and understand the depreciation report of the strata. This engineering report gives you a snapshot of the strata’s overall maintenance in relation to its financial state. If there isn’t enough money to pay for the necessary repairs, the strata would then have to call on a general meeting and vote for levies to pay for the repairs. These levies can be anywhere from hundreds of dollars to tens of thousands of dollars.
With the rising prices of single detached homes hitting near record levels all over the Lower Mainland, choosing to buy into a strata property might be a better option for you and can make for a lovely home once you have considered the above.
If you need help sorting through strata council minutes, or if you are unsure of what questions to ask, I’m here to help. Give me a call and we can talk about what’s right for you.