What to look for when buying your first condo

high-rise condominium
There are many things to consider before buying your first condo.

First home, first investment, first condo

For many people, buying a condo is their first home purchase. My first home purchase was a condo. My first investment property was a condominium too. And my second. So, condos are not only a great way to get into the market, they also have a lot of lifestyle and investment advantages too. 

This blog post will not discuss those things. There are some links below for those. Here we will talk about what to look for when buying your first condominium. They can be put into three general groups:

  • The neighbourhood.
  • The building.
  • The unit. 

Part one: the neighbourhood

The neighbourhood your condominium is within

For me, it always starts with neighbourhood. Do you prefer a high-rise condo unit in the heart of the entertainment district with lots of restaurants and nightlife at your doorstep? Or, do you want a quiet townhouse condominium, backing onto green space. At different stages of my life, I’ve lived in both. I can say from experience that both have advantages and disadvantages. 

Where your condo is located will dictate many of what the building (or complex) offers. Let’s go there next.

Part two: the condo building

For the building (or condominium complex) itself, here is a list of things to consider:

1) The financials 

  • What are the condominium fees?
  • What do the fees include?
  • How robust is the reserve fund?
  • Are there now or have there been any special assessments?
  • How old is the condo?
  • How many units does the condo have?
  • Does the condo have any expensive amenities?
  • Are there any past or ongoing legal issues?

2) The ground floor

  • Is there a concierge?
  • Are the public space well maintained?
  • How does the lobby look?
  • Is there enough visitor parking?
  • Are there enough elevators?
  • How is the garbage and recycling handled? 
  • Are there any retail businesses on the ground floor level?

3) The rules and regs

  • What is the policy on pets?
  • What is the ratio of renters to owner occupied units?
  • Are airbnbs allowed?
  • What are the smoking and cannabis policies?
  • How is the building managed?
  • What is the property management company’s reputation? 
  • Is the building bike friendly?
  • Are there any restrictive covenants?
  • What are the rules for use of balcony?
  • Are there rules for curtains and blinds?

4) Condo building amenities

  • Is there a gym?
  • Is there a bicycle room?
  • Are there lockers?
  • Is there a concierge?
  • Is there an onsite superintendent?
  • What are the security features?

Part three: the condo unit

  • How is the view?
  • How might the view change?
  • What direction does your unit face?
  • How is the layout?
  • Can you hear or smell your neighbours?
  • Are the furnace, A/C, water softener, and water heater owned or rented?
  • How is the quality and condition of the floor, cabinets, and appliances?
  •  Is there in-suite washer and dryer?


Although this is not a complete list, you can see that there is a lot to consider when buying a condo. 

Future reading:

Things to consider when buying a condo.

Where are the best new condos in Kitchener-Waterloo? 

Six ways to save money on condo fees.

How to buy your first condo

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