Strata title properties are more popular than ever – over one in three BC residents live in a residential strata. If you are a first time buyer, an empty nester looking to downsize, or simply looking for a more affordable housing solution, the strata market may be right for you. However, it is very important to understand the nature of strata versus freehold ownership before you make a decision.
The Society of Notaries Public of BC has put together the following 10 tips for those considering strata ownership:
- Carefully read the strata’s bylaws and find out if any new bylaws are currently proposed at an upcoming Annual General Meeting or Special General Meeting.
- Parking can be contentious, so find out if the parking stalls are owned by the strata lot, or are limited common property and how they would be addressed upon sale.
- Find out whether an engineering report has been obtained to determine any current or potential problems. If so, review the findings and ask what will be done to address problems.
- Keep in mind BC’s leaky condo crisis, and find out whether there have been problems with water, and whether it has been professionally re-mediated.
- Ask whether major maintenance work is required in the future (eg. replacing the roof, balconies, re-plumbing, etc.).
- Look into whether any legal action is in progress against the building or strata.
- Find out how much money is in the contingency reserve.
- Smoking can be an issue, so make sure you understand the rules and restrictions and how they will impact you and your enjoyment of your home.
- Seek the advice of experienced real estate and legal professionals before you invest in a strata home.
- Make an offer to purchase a property conditional upon your notary or lawyer’s approval.
For more information, see the Summer 2013 edition of BC Notaries’ quarterly publication, The Scrivener, which focuses on strata properties and contains a wealth of information for potential buyers on strata ownership.