Condominium living is popular in Alberta and there are lots of advantages to this type of community development, but you do need to do your homework first so there are no unforeseen problems later and that this option is right for you. This means it is important to keep a clear head and not be tempted to rush into binding decisions without thinking it through.

Size matters! Check that the unit is big enough for your needs and make sure you understand where your boundaries are. If you are buying a unit in a condominium that is still under construction it is important that you can visualize the floor space. Some condos can be small so you need to know exactly what you are getting before you buy.

If you are buying a new condo, find out whether you have any options on fixtures and fittings and color finishes. If the condo is still under construction you may be able to customize your unit before you buy. Find out if the developer has noise reduction measures in place or other environmental measures, such as odor reduction.

If you are buying a used condo, you should get a home inspector to check out your unit and evaluate the condition of the building before you go any further. If there is work that needs carrying out in the future, you will need to factor this into the price of the condo.

Does the condo come with a warranty? New condos usually have a warranty of around 5 to 7 years. Even when you buy a used condo there may be some time to run on it so you need this information.

All condos charge monthly maintenance fees and these can vary a lot between buildings. Find out what these actually cover and whether the fees are likely to increase in the future. Before you buy, ask about municipal services the condominium corporation receives, such as waste collection and which of the other services are carried out by independent contractors. Services carried out by independent contractors will be added to your monthly fees.

How the condo is heated, cooled, and ventilated? Is there air conditioning? Is the heating system suitable for your needs? You need to know all about your utilities before you buy them.

Are there any restrictions in place that may affect you later? For example, some condos have parking restrictions which could make it awkward if you want to park your work truck, your RV or your boat in the parking lot. Some condos have restrictions about what is acceptable (and not acceptable) for your balcony.

The three most common sources of annoyance in condos come down to pets, parking, and people – often known as the three Ps! To keep things harmonious, condo operators usually place restrictions on all of these so if you are planning on moving in with a bunch of friends and your dogs, this type of housing may not suit you (or your neighbors).

Check out if there are any hidden costs on the property, such as outstanding long term leases on building fixtures. Some buildings owners take out long term leases on their buildings to cover maintenance and then pass this expense onto the individual condo owners.

When you are house-hunting, it can be easy to let your heart rule your head but it is very important to shop around so that you can compare the purchase prices and the monthly fees on offer for each unit. Often a more expensive condo can turn out to be a better deal if the monthly charges are significantly lower.

Finally, it is important that you consult with your lawyer before you agree to buy. That way, you can be confident that you won’t have signed up to something that you live to regret later.