Condominium – What does that really mean?

We often hear the word condominium shortened to condo. And for many it has become synonymous with Apartment style housing. In this post we will unpack what Condominium really means.

Commercial Condominium Project

Terminology in Real Estate can sometimes be a bit confusing so when selling or purchasing a property you need to understand what it is you are buying or selling. Condominium is defined as per the Oxford dictionaries as:

a building or complex of buildings containing a number of individually owned apartments or houses.

In British Columbia it also means any property that is part of a strata titled group of properties. This can include; Apartment style, Townhome’s, Duplex’s, Bare Land Strata’s, Commercial Properties and Mixed use Properties. You may not even know what category you are buying!
In British Columbia, these types of properties used to be governed by the Condominium Act.  This was replaced with the Strata Property Act and it is the governing authority. You will recall in my previous post  we discussed different types of ownership. It was mentioned that strata ownership represents approximately 50% of all ownership types. This will vary depending on community but it is significant to note that a strata (condominium) transaction is typically the most complicated type of transaction you might ever enter into.
Every Condominium is subject to the strata title act which outlines the responsibilities of the owner as well as the strata corporation. Now the term strata corporation itself needs some defining.
By default, the owners of the condominium are also joint owners of any common property (Assets) of the development. This joint ownership is what is called the strata corporation. The strata corporation is managed by a strata council which acts for the benefit of the owners as whole. It is a common practise for the strata corporation to hire a Property Management company to assist them in ensuring the corporation is run correctly.

Key Areas of Condominium Ownership:

  • ByLaws – Every Strata is governed by a set of bylaws. These bylaws are either established by the strata corporation or they are by default the bylaws specified within the Strata Property Act

A common error when buying bare land strata is not recognizing these still apply.

  • Strata Plan – The strata plan shows you what type of strata you are involved in and what you actually own.

the ad said your unit came with 2 parking stalls. Do you really own them?

  •  Engineers Reports & Depreciation Reports – These reports, if available, can be key to making a good decision on whether or not you should buy a particular unit. They are also valuable tools for the Owners in making good decisions on managing their assets.

Knowing when a major asset like a roof or heating system needs replacing is key in budgeting for a strata. Also important as a buyer to know if something major is upcoming and how it will be paid for.

  • Financial Statements – Gives you a clear picture of the Financial health of the development and where they are spending money.

A key thing to look for is whether or not the expenditures match the budget. If the maintenance budget is not being spent, are there going to be deferred maintenance issues?

  • Minutes of Strata Meetings – These minutes are the records of any Strata Council, Annual General Meetings and Special Meetings. As a buyer you will want to see a minimum of the previous 2 years on record.

Reviewing these documents will help give you a sense of the management of the strata corporation. Does the council overstep their level of authority? Do they deal with things in a timely manner? Are their changes to the bylaws moving forward? Special assessments?

This brief explanation of a condominium and what it means is only meant to alert you to some of the key areas to look at. As mentioned earlier, it is a complicated transaction and you are best advised to seek expert advice.

As a real estate professional I am qualified through education and experience to help you in one of two ways.

  1. Buying or Selling a Condominium: Able to help you navigate the entire process as your agent.
  2. Strata Property Review service; A comprehensive evaluation of the key areas identified above. As a Buyer this is important before you make your deal firm. (If we are acting on your behalf as in option 1, this service is included).

Please feel free to contact me at any time should you need any help. And please feel free to comment or share this post.


Home Ownership – Is it Right for You?

And what type .......

Of course you want to own your own home! This is Canada. Home ownership is the Great Canadian dream! And what do you mean what type? Aren’t they all the same?

Home Ownership

Let’s take this one step at a time. Home ownership has several different aspects that can affect your decision. Some advantages and some disadvantages. Click here for 6 mistakes Home Buyers Make.

Advantages of Home Ownership

  1. It is the place you call home. You might say the place you rent is also home but when your landlord decides it is time to sell, you are forced to move. Owning your own home gives you the choice.
  2. It is a great investment. With Real Estate you are likely going to see your investment grow over the longer term. Sure their might be some ups and downs but the majority of wealth is built through wise investments.
  3. It is a way you can establish memories of your family. Your kids will grow up and leave but they will always remember where home was.
  4. It is where you can demonstrate your ‘pride of ownership’. Paint your home and its walls any color you like. Decorate it with your style. Show it off. Your earned it.

Disadvantages of Home Ownership

  1. Home ownership has a cost to it. Acquisition cost and maintenance cost.
  2. Home ownership takes an investment of Time as well as money.
  3. Home ownership is not a liquid investment.

Types of Home Ownership

  1. Single Family Detached – 59% of residential properties sold this year on the MLS were Detached houses of some form or another.
  2. Attached Strata Properties – Commonly known as Condo’s or Townhomes. They represent about 41% of the MLS sales this year.
  3. Co – operatives – Usually town homes or condos owned by a corporation that sells shares in the corporation to the residents. Quite often a lower cost form of housing and great for young families.
  4. Lease-hold properties – Resemble strata with the main difference being the existence of an underlying lease on the land so ownership is subject to the lease. Not to common in Abbotsford but Chilliwack is another story.

Rental properties is kind of a form of ownership because as with all of the above, your payment affords you a bundle of rights to use the property. Knowing which rights you are purchasing is important.

Home ownership of a strata property has become somewhat of a hot commodity lately as the price of the detached house slipped out of reach of many. And it is good to have this as a choice. When looking at Strata Properties, there are a number of technical issues that come up and will be the topic of an upcoming post.

Home Ownership is a good thing to consider. When looking into it make sure you go in with your eyes open. You need to know:

  1. Your budget – Remember having a life is good too. Don’t become house rich.
  2. Size of your family – Is it going to change soon?
  3. Location you like. Schools close, Shopping, Parks, Entertainment, Transit, Church’s. These all make for more sustainable living.
  4. List of must have’s and wants. Prioritize.

Navigating the waters of home ownership is full of technicalities, legalities and personalities. My best advice to you is to get a guide you TRUST. Your best interests are the required priority. Please feel free to contact me should you need any answers to your questions.

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How to Safely Sell Your Items Online

When you are planning to sell your home and move, you may decide it is a good time to downsize and sell some items of value that you have collected over the years.

Office Clutter

And then again, if you are like me, you just need to clear a bunch of stuff out. Have you ever kept something thinking it had value. Just think. When was the last time you used it? They say if the answer is over a year you should chuck it. But I might need it some day! Throw it out!

You guys ever have that discussion with yourselves?

Recently I decided to redo my home office. I could not believe the amount of crap I had been hoarding over the last 15 years. I am sure that once I took it all out of the room, there is no way it would fit back into the room. In fact, I now have the frame of what was a very good Ikea desk sitting on my back deck. I tried three times to sell it on Abbotsford Bidding Wars but no takers. So there it sits. Not for long because I am sure Sonya will soon grow tired of my ideas on how we could use it again. Throw it out Don! Ok.

Well as you can probably tell, I might not be the best guy to talk to about the stuff you want to sell or get rid of. Thats why I have added this great article on what How to Safely Sell Items Online. I hope you enjoy.

sell your stuff

How to Sell Stuff Online

Thanks for reading. Please leave comments or share on Facebook or Twitter. 


October’s Abbotsford Real Estate Stats

What's the real estate market doing these days?

October real estate stats are out and they tell an interesting tale. The FVREB says “No sign of slowdown for the Fraser Valley….” Get the complete report by clicking here or you can follow this post to get my take and point of view.

This Chart is a look at the real estate market Stats for the month of October over the past 8 years. I’m not a statistician but I thought this could give us an interesting perspective of where we are in relation to other years. We will take a look at the three main areas of activity. Namely; Detached Housing, Townhouse’s and Apartment’s.

  1. Detached Housing Highlights.

    1. Inventory levels are at very low levels.
    2. Currently less than a 3 month supply of houses.
    3. Sales to Active Listing Ratio is high at 39%. (Sellers Market)
    4. Sales are up 46% from one year ago
  2. Townhouse Highlights

    1. Inventory levels have remained relatively constant compared to Detached and Apt.
    2. Currently 4 month supply.
    3. Sales to Active Listing Ratio is at an 8 year high of 24%. (Sellers Market)
    4. Sales are up 28% from one year ago
  3. Apartment Highlights

    1. Inventory levels are down almost 200 units from the high in 2010.
    2. Currently a 4.5 month supply. A signifcant change from 2010 where there was over 8 months supply.
    3. Sales to Active Listing Ratio is currently at 22% (Sellers market)
    4. Sales are up 19% from one year ago.

We can interpret from these real estate stats the following

  1. There will remain upward pressure on the price of Detached housing as long as inventory levels remain low and the demand remains high. People may hesitate to put their home on the market without being comfortable knowing they will find what they are looking for.
  2. The townhouse market will continue to remain steady. A more in-depth analysis would also take into consideration the type of units these are. An example of this would be whether or not they are age restricted.
  3. The apartment market would seem to be heading for a bit of a resurgance if the inventory levels continue to drop. After a number of years of poor performance, I believe we could begin to see a return to some appreciation in the value of some of the used apartment units with continued lowering of inventory. That would mean an apartment may make for a pretty good investment for your retirement portfolio given the right circumstances.

We often think of real estate as an investment and for most of us it is usually our single largest investment. This makes it important to understand what is affecting it. It is also a place where we call home. The place where memories are made. Relationships forged. So we can’t just look at it from a statistical point of view. But we need to be certain we are aware of what is happening so we can make informed decisions.

I hope this give you some insight into the real estate market conditions in Abbotsford. If you are interested in learning how they might affect your decisions regarding your property, please feel free to contact me at your convenience for “Friendly Service all the Time” 


Real Estate – 5 Most Important Things

Your House - Your Home

There’s the old joke in Real Estate, “What are the three most important things about Real Estate? The Answer: Location Location Location…. Ha Ha Ha.

The importance of where your property is located is very real but we also should look at the other aspects of your home. You are going to have design, layout and decorating things to look at and also what it is actually made of. Bricks, morter, wood, vinyl. The options are endless. But your home is more than these things.

Home is About Your Family

Measure Me Grandpa!
Measure Me Grandpa!

Home for Sonya and I for the past 16 years has been a condo. I can not think of a better location to live. I can walk just about anywhere I need to go. But what is really important to me is having my family come to visit. We now have 8 grandchildren and there is one door in the condo that if we ever decide to move, that door will be coming with us. As you can see by the picture, we have measured everyone on this door. At our previous home, our children grew up and that was home.

Home is About Making Memories

No matter where we have live, we create memories. Sonya and I have been blessed to have just good memories from where we have lived. At the house in McMillan it was about the ball games the boys were playing and being close to the schoools for the special meetings or presentations. But one time we had a visit from the police. It would seem someone was shooting what appeared to be a rifle from our deck. Good thing it was only a pellet gun but we had some pretty scared boys while the police officer was talking to them. That is a memory!

Home is About New Relationships and Long ones

Every place we have lived, we meet new people. They become more than neighbors sometimes and we develop friendships. The kids had friends they met at the McMillan house they still call friends. People they may share part of their life with for many more years.

Home is About Living in Community

As you spend time in your area, hopefully you will be developing a feel for the community. The community we are in now is primarily adult but our previous properties were geared more for families. As your property requirements change, community is an important thing to consider when you are getting ready to move.

Home is About Security

Most people have a feeling of safety when they are home. They are in familiar surroundings. Hopefully with people they love and who care for them. For each of us it will mean something different. Women tend to feel a loss of security when the for sale sign goes up. They are concerned about where the next home is going to be. Men are quite likely to not be nearly as concerned. They could just as well live in a tent for a month or two.

I remember when Mom and Dad decided it was time for us to move into a bigger home and they put the little house on Mayfair up for sale. Along with Bev and Sharon, we would routinely take the for sale sign down because that was our place. I remember thinking it kind of funny when Dad would get annoyed at what we had done. Well we did move and I’m happy to report I survived that one and a few others as well. Amazing as it may seem, I found some new friends at the new place too.

Your Abbotsford Home Value

Your Abbotsford Home Value

Navigating the process of moving a family is more complicated today than 50 years ago when we moved from Mayfair to Sheffield Way. Moving across a much smaller town really wasn’t a big deal back then as it might be today. It is important we survive those moves and for them to be smooth.

Each person involved in the move will be concerned about something different but very relevent to them. Not everything we talked about could concern you but I bet each one involved in your move will be thinking of a few of those things.

Helping your move go smoothly is what we are all about. It is important to get the right price and to pay the right price but it is also important for you to be in the right place.

Please let me know if there is any way I might help you now.

If you have any question about moving or property values please feel free to leave a comment or post something on our Facebook page. We specialize in providing “Friendly Service all the Time”