Are you looking for a condo or loft?

You’ve come to the right place! 

Here we’ve broken down each building by area so it makes for an easy way to find all the listings currently for sale in the building and area you want. 

Click on one of the tiles below to get started.

Downtown Condos
NW Condos
SW Condos
NE Condos
SE Condos

Some of our more popular loft choices include:

Hudson Lofts – 535 1oth Avenue SW

Imperial Lofts – 220 11th Avenue SE

Lewis Lofts – 240 11th Avenue SW

Manhattan Lofts – 1117 1st Street SW

Orange Lofts – 535 8th Avenue SE

West 17th Lofts – Aspen Meadows Hill SW

Many people get confused with the term condo, or condominium.  Most people believe it refers to a type of product, like a high rise single level unit as opposed to a house or a town home.  This is simply not the case.  The term condo/condominium refers to a style of living, not a type of product.  

Did you know…

There are some acreages just outside of the city on 1,2, 3, and 4 acres of land, with large 2500 square foot + homes that are considered to be condominiums!  It’s true.  They are small acreage communities that pool funds together to maintain the area and certain aspects of the homes (like the shingles) to keep a uniform and exclusive look to their community.  Each owner has to adhere to strict architectural controls, follow the governing bylaws set out by the board, and pay their monthly condominium contributions to maintain the upkeep of the community.

Further to this, some townhouses are condominiums while others are not. This is a very important distinction you should be aware of when making a decision to purchase a property.  In some communities in Calgary, you can literally find the same floor plan, in the same community, one is a condo townhouse and one is an attached duplex with no condo fee.

So what is a condo, exactly?

When you buy a condo, you’re buying a lifestyle rather than a type of property.  You’re agreeing to live by a set of rules and regulations, share common space, and help pay for building and other maintenance issues in the form of monthly condominium fees or by a special assessment should there not be enough money in the reserve fund to cover such an expense.

A great resource to check out is the condo law for Albertan’s website. This site breaks down all the ownership terms, responsibilities of owners and boards, as well as some other general information from a legal perspective.

Who should buy a condo?

Condominium ownership isn’t for everyone, but it is a great fit for many people.  If you aren’t a fan of yard maintenance or home maintenance a condo may be a good option.  If you travel a lot for work or pleasure, you may also find condominium ownership to be a great lifestyle choice that affords you the ability to “lock and leave” at any time.  

Many condo’s offer amenities such as pools, hot tubs, & steam rooms/saunas.  Some have full gyms, movie theaters, pool tables, library’s, guest suites, and board rooms that are for exclusive use to all owners.  Other buildings have full 24 hour concierge and in house security while some buildings may have none of these features.  Condominiums that are amenity rich will come at a higher monthly condo fee while the complex’s that have little to no amenities will likely have lower fees.  What do you want in a building or complex?

As a first time home buyer a condo may be a good option.  This gets you into the market and in a position of paying the principal down on a mortgage instead of paying rent to a landlord – all while enjoying the benefit of equity appreciation.  Often a condo purchase can be more affordable than rent.

Another group that often benefits from the condo lifestyle are those going into the later stages of life.  Age restricted buildings can offer a lifestyle perfectly suited to buyers looking for companionship with like-minded peers in a complex that offers activities and amenities suited to a specific age group.  Some of these complex’s are also classified as senior assisted living facilities, which have built in alarm systems in units, on site staff, and other amenities which can be of extreme value for those that may not be as mobile or need the extra safety in case of a fall or emergency.

Condominium living may not be a good fit:

  • If you are a pet owner as many condo complex’s have strict rules and regulations around pets.  Some don’t allow pets of any kind, while others restrict the type, breed, or weight of the pet allowed. 
  • If you do not want to adhere to a specific set of rules or regulations.  These can include special noise restrictions, types of materials or renovations you are allowed or not allowed in your unit, exterior look and style – everything is typically expected to be uniform and you may not be allowed to have different colours, window coverings, hang Christmas lights or other decorative items.
  • If you want to buy the property as an investment and rent it out.  Some corporations have rules around rentals.  Short term rentals and using your property as an Airbnb for example, may be strictly prohibited.  You will need to read through all the bylaws, rules and regulations carefully if this is your plan. 
  • If you have kids, or are planning on having kids.  One of the restrictions you may run into is an age restriction.  Some complex’s have rules around the age an occupant must be.  Some have 18+ policies while others have 50+ policies in place.  This may even be a factor if you are a grandparent and plan on having grandchildren stay with you for extended periods of time.

 

You’ve decided to buy a condo, what should you consider?

1. Your Choice of Representation Matters:

Not all condos are alike, many have different restrictions in place or specific sets of rules and regulations that may not be common.  Some have strong reserve funds and good budgets, while others may not.  

Similarly, not all Realtors are alike.  Some Realtors are familiar with condominium purchase and sale agreements, what to look for and what to look out for, while others are not.  Choosing a Realtor that is a C.C.S. (Certified Condominium Specialist by the Calgary Real Estate Board, C.R.E.B) should be high on your priority list.  Having this designation means a Realtor has gone through a course specific to condominium sales and ownership that is above and beyond that of getting their real estate licence.  

Interesting fact: Mike Star and all the associates on the Mike Star real estate team are designated by the Calgary Real Estate Board as C.C.S. members!

2. Condo Document Review:

A condo document review takes some of the guesswork out of buying a condo.  There are many condominium document review companies in Calgary that specialize in providing a professional and comprehensive summary about the condominium you are planning to purchase.  Hiring a third party document review company to ensure the documents are all in order, read thoroughly and understood is important.  This will help simplify the process for you and highlight any areas of serious concern.

When buying a condo there are certain questions you should be asking before finalizing your decision as there are many little things that can make a big difference to your future investment’s appreciation and/or resale value.

  • What is the development’s history?
  • Are there any persistent problems with post tension cables?
  • Are there any plumbing issues? (This is especially important when looking at older complexes that use hot water as a heating source)
  • If buying from a developer, what is their reputation? What work remains to be completed on the condominium development? Does the purchase contract specify a completion date with details and specifications?
  • Is there an operating surplus or deficit?
  • What is the current financial status of the corporation?
  • Do all the unit owners own the recreational facility as part of the common property, or does the condominium corporation lease them?
  • Are there restrictions on the unit owner? (These can include restrictions on age, pets, home business, use of a satellite dish, installation of a hot tub)
  • Are there any extra parking stalls for owners?
  • What about guest parking, or motor home parking areas?
  • Is there secured bike storage on site? (Some complexes require you to store your bike in your unit or on your balcony)
  • Are the parking areas owned by the unit owners? If leased, can the owner of the land increase the lease costs?

Important Note:

These, along with many other questions can greatly affect your purchase. A professional review company will compile all this information in a way that is easy to read and understand. The company you choose to hire for the review will provide you with a consultation after the review is complete to address any of the concerns discovered. Professional condominium review companies typically charge $300 – $700 for a comprehensive report.

3. Red Flags to Consider:

Condo fees that are too low:
Many times newly built condominiums have very low condo fees to start off.  Having low fees helps the developer sell all the units.  These are usually set artificially low and you should expect the fees to go up once the developer has exited the project.  This is usually because a new board takes over and together with the management company realizes the amount of fees being taken are not representative of the amount needed for the budget or reserve fund contributions, if this isn’t addressed early enough and a problem ensues, the owner’s could all be looking at a hefty special assessment to cover costs above what the reserve fund can handle.

Condo fees that are too high:
If the condo fees seem unreasonably high compared to other, similar buildings with similar amenities being offered, it’s probably because they are.  The association may be trying to cover off large expenses that taxed the reserve fund heavily, or maybe the contributions weren’t high enough to build a reserve fund large enough to cover the upcoming budgeted expenses.  Either way, the board may have decided to increase the fees to adhere for the miscalculations in the past.  This may be something you need to strongly consider before committing to a purchase, as higher fees could make for a tougher sale down the road should you want to sell and move on.

The reserve fund seems low:
If the reserve fund seems low it can become problematic for you in the future.  It is important to research why a reserve fund might be low.  If the complex as recently undergone extensive upgrades and renovations, it might not be a bad thing.  If the building has had the roof replaced, new windows and doors installed, building envelope upgrade and/or other recent improvements, this might be reflective of a lower than average reserve fund.  If however, there have been no recent major repairs and the budget is showing large expenses in the coming years, having a low reserve fund can be problematic.  If a large repair, or upgrade is needed and there isn’t enough allocated in the reserve fund the board may issue a special assessment with a lump sum being owed by each unit owner, alternatively, the monthly fee contribution may dramatically rise to cover any unexpected expense.

Looming special assessments:
A special assessment is a resolution passed by the board to cover expenses that exceed the budgeted amount for repairs, a depleted reserve fund, or a combination.  Special assessments can come as a demand from each unit owner as a one time lump sum, or are often split into payments that are due by specific dates.  Each unit owner is responsible for paying their share of the assessed amount based on their unit factor which is a number derived from using the units square footage based on a ratio of ownership in shares of the entire project.

Meeting minutes that have unresolved issues noted:
If you’ve read through past meeting minutes and noted that there is a problematic issue, repair work needed, or an ongoing issue being noted and there hasn’t seemed to be any indication that it is being addressed, you may want to look into things a little closer before making a decision to purchase.  You don’t want to end up stuck owning a property being run by a poor management company or a board unwilling to spend the necessary money needed to address maintenance or problematic issues with the building before they become larger, more expensive ones.

The size doesn’t seem to match what is being advertised:
This can be more often seen on properties that are listed for sale by the developer, for sale by owner, or a Realtor providing their own measurements.  In Alberta, we have a measurement standard that must be adhered to in order to list a property for sale on the MLS/realtor.ca  The RMS measurement standard (Residential Measurement Standard) calls for all condos to be measured, paint to paint.  Interior measurements, which differs from that of a detached property which uses exterior measurements.

The majority, if not all, Realtors adhere to this measurement standard when placing a property on the MLS.  Many even hire 3rd party measurement companies that provide insured measurements as per the RMS standard.  The problem typically arises when you buy a property not on realtor.ca.  If you buy from a for sale by owner or on spec from a developer you may want to double check the way they derived their measurements.  The builders and developers aren’t governed by R.E.C.A (Real Estate Council of Alberta) A.R.E.A (Alberta Real Estate Association) or C.R.E.B. (Calgary Real Estate Board) therefore they don’t use the same measurement standards we do.
A builder/developer of a new condo development may be using measurements from the inside walls, or exterior measurements.  They may be including balconies, parking stalls, or storage units within their total square footage noted.  It is very important to double check this prior to purchase or you could be left feeling you didn’t get the square footage you paid for.
The documents you’ve requested for review aren’t complete:
If you’ve requested a set of documents pertaining to the complex for further review and you find that some of the documents that should be there are missing, or are being refused/can’t be produced this could be a sign of a mismanaged corporation, or worse, a corporation that is non-compliant with the condominium act of Alberta.  

Some of the more important documents you want to ensure are present include:
  • Reserve fund study
  • Reserve fund report
  • Management agreement
  • Insurance certificate
  • Budget of the corporation
  • Recreational agreement (if applicable)
  • Post tension cable report (if applicable)
  • Most recent financial statements (both monthly and year end)
  • Budget for the corporation
  • Bylaws for the corporation
  • Most recent approved and draft meeting minutes
  • Annual general meeting minutes
  • A statement setting out the monthly condominium contribution
  • A statement detailing any structural deficiencies (if applicable)
  • A copy of any lease agreement or exclusive use agreement (if applicable)
  • Registered condominium plan
  • CADS Sheet (condominium additional plan sheet certificate)
  • Any H.O.A. (Home Owners Association) fee documentation (if applicable)
  • Any proposed special resolution awaiting a vote (if applicable)
  • Special resolution documentation (if applicable)
  • Title for all titled areas (including parking and storage if not assigned)
  • A copy of any easement, covenants, and restrictions (if applicable)
  • Any technical report available (technical audit, building assessment etc.)
Post tension cables are present:
In some of the older, concrete hi-rise buildings – post tension cables were used as a common method for construction.  These cables were used to help form and reinforce the concrete structure during the build.  Post tension cables are not an issue when installed and maintained properly.  The problem occurs when they were installed incorrectly, improperly maintained over the years, or have been exposed to water and as a result have started to rust.  

It is important to read the post tension cable reports provided to you by the corporation before committing to purchasing a building that has them.  You may also need to check with your bank or lender as some insurers frown on post tension buildings and it may affect your ability to obtain a mortgage or you may have to pay more insurance costs.
A building or complex that has age restrictions in place:
Age restricted building may be what you are looking for as a lifestyle choice, for you.  Just remember that they don’t work for everyone.  If you want to resell it down the road, you need to be aware that you have a limited market that are able to purchase it.  Even if you decide to rent it out at a later date, the renter you choose must meet the age restrictions.  Some lenders and insurers may not lend or insure an age restricted building, it is worth checking into before making a final buying decision.

If you see signs of current water leaks or stains from a past leak:
Whether you’re buying a condo or any other type of property for that matter, this almost goes without saying.  It’s important to find out if there is an active leak or if it is something that has been previously repaired.  If you see any indication of a leak within the unit you are considering or anywhere else in the building you see signs, it needs to be looked into.  Remember, as an owner you will be responsible for a portion of the common property based on your unit factor.
If there is a recent issue with water, or one that’s been recently repaired, there is a good chance you’ll see notes about it in the meeting minutes.  Read through past monthly minutes and see if you can gain any insight there.  You can also call the board and/or management company to see what the cause may have been.
You see an abnormal amount of units for sale in the building:
If you see abnormally high inventory levels in a specific building or project, it could be a sign of something bad coming, like a special assessment or a new building that is scheduled to be built on the next site effectively blocking views or reducing privacy.

It could also be a sign of poor management, unhappy owners, unfavorable rule changes, increased fees, or a reduction in amenities that were previously being offered.  In any case you’d best do some research and find out why there are so many units for sale.  It could make it difficult to sell in the near future should you need to move on.
You see that the corporation is operating on a deficit:
If the corporation is spending more money on a consistent basis than it is bringing in, it will eventually run out of money or have to go to the owners and ask for more to cover exceeding costs, or increase the monthly contributions each owner has to pay.  Be very wary if you see this.

You notice upon further investigation, the owner occupancy level is low:
If the building has a low owner occupancy ratio, it likely means that the majority of the units are rented out/tenant occupied.  With higher tenant occupancy you can expect to see a more transient atmosphere, with tenants moving in and out of units more frequently.  Some tenants may not take care of the common property as well as an owner would, this can lead to more wear on tear on a building especially with the increased move in and move outs happening.  

You find out there is a majority owner:
If there is one person, or one group of people that own a majority of the units, 50% or more you have a majority owner situation.  This means that they will have full control over the building as they have the ability to out vote all the other owners combined.  

You’re trying to get additional information but the board is unresponsive:
If you’re running into a situation where you’re trying to obtain information, documents, or address concerns and you find the board is unresponsive to your inquiries, it might be a sign of what’s in store when you do commit to the purchase.  

Have Questions?

Have questions about condominium ownership you’d like to have answered by Mike Star?  Click Here – Reach out! I’m happy to help you in your real estate goals.