So what is a condo, anyway?

So what is a condo, anyway?

A condo unit is a property that you can buy, rent or sell. But a condominium is also a form of ownership: condo owners set rules for their building and share in costs like maintenance, repairs and improvements.

Any type of home can be a condo, including high-rise and low-rise buildings, townhomes, and even detached homes. The word “condominium” is a legal term that defines the type of ownership, not the type of building. According to Webster’s, it’s “ownership of real property characterized by separate ownership of portions of the property (as units in an apartment building) and undivided or joint ownership of the remainder (as the common areas of an apartment building).”

Loft buildings like the Toy Factory Lofts are also organized into condo corporations. So are townhouse developments (condo towns) like King West Village; shared ownership makes sense for buildings, building clusters, and developments where the units are similar.

Here’s how it works
You have sole ownership of your actual unit, and you share ownership of common areas like hallways and recreational facilities with the rest of the condo owners. You’re responsible for maintaining your unit, at your own expense.

Think of it this way. The entire condominium is a business, and every individual owner of a condo unit in the building is a shareholder. These shareholders/unit owners elect a Board of Directors to make up the condo board, which is responsible for running that business as efficiently as possible while maintaining building and common elements.

Common elements like elevators, hallways, party rooms, guest suites, stairwells, outdoor space – they’re all jointly owned by every single unit owner in the building. Your maintenance fees go to taking care of those shared spaces, and you all share in the costs of keeping them clean and in good repair.

A maintenance fee is a monthly payment to the condo corporation that’s based on the size of your unit. It goes to everything from cleaning carpets to buying new gym equipment and paying the concierge, and everyone shares in the costs of keeping the building running (just like you would if you owned a house with housemates, for example – everyone would chip in for heat, repairs, etc.)

After all, taking care of the building is in everyone’s best interest: you get to live in a clean, well-maintained home, and you ensure the value stays high when it comes time to sell.

Here’s a great resource if you want to learn more about maintenance fees.

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