7 Important Questions to Ask a Property Manager About Condo Living Before You Buy

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Don’t wait for surprises. Here are 7 questions to ask a property manager before you dive into buying a condo.

When you are looking at condos, and thinking about where you’re going to be living for the next 5, 10, or 20 years, what do you think about? Maybe you envision a quiet morning sipping coffee on your deck or you think about a convivial chat with your neighbor. Visiting your potential condo community will give you a feel for the neighborhood, but you don’t want to be surprised.

One way to reduce those surprises is to have a list of questions to ask a property manager before you commit to such a big investment. These are questions that will help you make a smart decision and prepare for life in your new condo. [Read more…]

Exclusive, Common & Restricted Elements, Oh My!

Have you ever stood in the
front lobby of your home and wondered
‘what are the common elements of my condo?

Never fear!
We’re here to walk you through the common and
not-so-Common Elements of your home.
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A good place to start is by defining Common Elements and the different types you will encounter as a condo resident.

Common Elements are generally elements that are the responsibility of the condo corporation in terms of maintenance, repairs and replacement.

Exclusive-Use Common Elements are those that are in-between the units and common-areas. Exclusive-Use Common Elements include driveways and yards. These elements are enjoyed by individual owners their appearance and maintenance are governed by the condo corporation.

Restricted-Use Common Elements are any and all buildings occupied by staff. These elements are restricted for safety measures and although they belong to the owner they are not responsible for maintenance. Restricted-Use Common Elements can include swimming pools, concierge desks and electrical rooms.

Now for the nitty-gritty stuff, who is responsible for what?
In most cases unit owners are responsible for maintenance on all elements that are Exclusive-Use however repairs and replacements that occur in these Exclusive-Use Elements are usually covered by the condo corporation.
Common Element replacements are paid for from the Condo’s Reserve Fund.

The Reserve Fund is a fund required to be set aside by the Condominium Corporation to cover the major repair and replacement of the common elements and assets of the condominium.It is important to note that this is just a guide line and no two condos are managed the same so be sure to consult your Condo By-Law. Now that you’re a Condo Master you’re ready to look into painting your kitchen and installing planters on your balcony.

Is there anything we missed or any questions you wish you had answers to?
Let us know!

Dog Washing Stations in Condos

With the rise in canine residents the question of whether or not to have dog washing station has also taken centre stage.
Pet-focused amenities can add value to a property if you are hoping to catch the eye of pet-owning potential tenants. 

New luxury condo developments are taking notice of these four legged fluffy residents by adding pet-focused amenities into building and pre-construction plans. Even non-pet owners are happy with the addition of such facilities because it keeps the public area of the condo clean. 

Including washing and grooming stations can also reduce the amount of mud or dirt that is tracked in with Fido after his morning stroll reducing carpet or elevator cleaning.
Have a dog washing station? Let residents book the facility from their smartphone with the Evercondo App. Avoid having a line-up every time the dog park becomes a mud bath by having residents pre-book their bath and spa time.

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5 Ways to Create your own Dog Washing Station: 
  1. Install a handheld shower-head or sprayer. This allows owners to wash their entire pet or just their paws after a muddy stroll. 
  1. Be ready for the ‘Shake’. Dogs shake dry and there is no way to surpress their need to dry themselves resulting in everyone that is near them getting wet. To lessen the water damage on the drywall and flooring, install water resistant flooring and backsplash. 
  1. Use a large drain. It is also a good idea to include a hair catcher for any of Fido’s locks that may fall. 
  1. Height before bite. Save owner’s back by installing a bath at the correct level. Small dogs can be lifted into tubs, large dogs can use ramps or ground level washing stations. 
  1. Build a shelf  or include a mesh hanger for all pup’s hair products.

Condo Glossary

As if moving into a condo or buying a condo wasn’t tricky enough now you have to decipher the lingo as well?!

Not to worry!
We’ve compiled a Glossary of the terms we are asked most frequently and broke them down to help you keep up with any Realtors and Property Managers you encounter along the way. 

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Agreement of Purchase and Sale (APS): A legal document used to state a buyer’s desire to purchase a property along with a deposit. 

Amenities: Desirable and useful features of a building that contribute to the comfort of residents. 

Closing: The final step in purchasing a condo where you receive your title. 

Common Area: The area used by two or more tenants, and/or third parties, not under the control of any one tenant.

Common Elements: Various components of the condominium where homeowners share joint ownership: hallways, recreational areas, parking garage, parking space, storage locker, roof.

Condominium: A form of land ownership where a property is divided into private residential units that share many common elements. 

Condominium Fees: A monthly sum paid by each homeowner that goes toward the operation and upkeep of the common elements. 

Credit History: Sometimes called a credit report. This is the main report that lenders use to determine if you qualify for a loan. 

Down Payment: A portion of the purchase price that is not financed by the mortgage loan. 

High Rise: A building that has seven or more stories.

Low Rise: Buildings that are three stories or less.

Mid Rise: Buildings that are three to seven stories high. 

Occupancy: Moving into a condominium and making it your residence. 

Occupancy Date: The date that defines when you must take occupancy of your home.

Real Estate Agent: Someone who sells or rents out buildings and land for clients. 

Reserve Funds: A fund required to be set aside by the Condominium Corporation to cover the major repair and replacement of the common elements and assets of the condominium

Townhome: One of several single-family homes, side-by-side. 

 

What are HOA Dues and Are They Worth the Cash?

It’s easy to understand your mortgage, your utility bills, and your taxes. But what are HOA dues going toward?

Life is good. You just bought a brand new condo, your career is taking off, and you have great neighbors and friends that you enjoy spending time with on the weekends. Then it comes. You’ve been expecting it, but somewhere in the back of your mind, you thought they might forget. 

That small piece of paper in today’s mail is your bill for your HOA dues. It’s not that you can’t afford it. It’s just that, well, you’re not quite sure what they’re for, either. The truth is, the answer may vary widely depending on your location, the size and type of condo you own, and even the way those dues are managed.

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The Best Dogs for Condos: These Five May Surprise You

best dogs for condosSize is not the only factor when picking a condo dog, so this list of the five best dogs for condos might not be what you are expecting.

What dogs come to mind when you are thinking about the best dogs for condos? Small dogs maybe? Perhaps a pug or miniature poodle would fit the bill? Those are both popular breeds, and both are well-suited to condo living.

What about larger dogs? You might be surprised to learn that size is not the biggest factor in finding the best dogs for condos. In fact, the most limiting factor in size is probably your condo association rules.

This doesn’t mean just any dog is among the best dogs for condos. Small dogs may fit the size rules of your condo association, but the barky types may not sit well with your neighbors.

Not every dog is suited for condo dwelling. Herding dogs that thrive on corralling cattle all day probably won’t be the choices. Consider your lifestyle and a dog’s temperament when thinking about adopting or purchasing a new pup.

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What Does Condo Security Do For You?

condo securityNo matter where we live, we want to feel safe and secure in our homes. The home is a respite from a world that is occasionally unpredictable, sometimes challenging, and often hurried.

Condo security systems range from simple alarms to full fledged condo monitoring systems. No matter how advanced, though, there is something about a living, breathing person that outshines a condo security system every time.

Do-it-yourself condo security

First, the reality is that crime happens. No matter how many systems or people are in place, there is no guarantee of living in a crime-free community. However, there is a lot we can do to help reduce the risk.

One of the best things you can do to reduce crime in your condo community is to know your neighbors. There is a phrase, “eyes on the street” that implies crime is less likely to happen when there are people around. An active condo community itself is a great crime deterrent.

Other easy steps to reduce the risk of crime include locking your doors and windows when you are not home, have a neighbor check in on your condo when you are out of town, and setting a timer for lights and television so it looks like someone is home.

Smart condo technology makes do-it-yourself condo security even easier to implement. Smart systems are available to that will do anything from lock your doors for you, to automating lights, televisions, and curtains to make it look like you are home.

Hired-hand condo security

If you live in a large condo community or metropolitan area, you may have a security detail in place already. For condo neighborhoods, where multiple condo units are spread out over several streets, and maybe even a community center, condo security can function like a patrol unit. One or two security officers will patrol in a car, keeping an eye on the neighborhood.

A patrol like this can double as a way to keep tabs on maintenance issues, traffic flow, and maybe even referee a soccer game or two. In itself, this type of condo security acts as a crime deterrent simply by being present.

In metropolitan areas, or high rise condos, a security patrol will look much different. Security like this might be in the form of a front desk officer, and may double as a concierge, depending on your condo association needs and agreement with the security company.

In either case, if someone is keeping an eye on you and your property, make sure to treat them well. The occasional cup of coffee, or slice of homemade pie is a nice treat for someone watching people head out to the pool or a concert or dinner.

Who are my condo security guards?

Some security companies will only hire retired or off-duty police and military personel as security guards. In other cases, a security guard might be someone with a background of college courses in criminal justice.

A condo security guard may be armed or unarmed, too. Laws and procedures for this will vary depending on where you live, but it is a topic of discussion for your condo association if you are considering hiring a security patrol.

There are pros and cons to everything, of course. Your condo association will need to consider what kind of security works best for your particular situation.

All of this, from security system to security guard, works best when there is good communication. It just so happens that is what we do!

Do you need to talk to your condo association or property manager about security, or anything else? Contact us for a demonstration, and we’ll show you how we can facilitate communication throughout your condo association, from owners to property managers.

Does your condo community have a security officer? What did we miss? Let us know in the comments. 

A Condo Maintenance Checklist for New Condo Owners

condo maintenance checklistDon’t let filters and drains get in the way of your new home high. Use this condo maintenance checklist to save you stress and money.

Congratulations on your new home! There are some things you can’t control when it comes to condo living: the family with the aspiring young drummer, the lady with the high heels upstairs, and the garlic-loving chef who lives below you, ensuring you inhale at least a clove a day. Hey, they say garlic is great for you anyway, right?

But one of the easiest things you can do to protect the value of a condo is keep up with the regular maintenance.

Not only is it good for your financial interest, but using a condo maintenance checklist will help you prevent unexpected problems.

While some things, like electrical repairs, are best left to your property management company, there is a lot you can do yourself. In fact, the most basic maintenance is more like deep cleaning.

This condo maintenance checklist is designed to be easy for anyone to follow, regardless of mechanical inclination. Each one of these will only take a few minutes, but could save you money, and keep you safe.

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Tips for staying on top of condo work orders!

Work Orders

Work orders can snowball and leave you blinded in a full white-out situation.
Stay on top of work orders from residents with these tips! 

Establish a Routine

Do you like to wake up early and get started on your emails from home? Or are you more likely to hit snooze and answer emails over dinner? Use your body’s natural time clock to build a schedule that works for you. Tackle tasks when your energy is at the highest regardless of if that time hits in the morning or in the evening. 

Identify the Correct Person

Save time by assigning the job to the correct person. Once the work order is submitted by the resident simply use the Evercondo Work Order feature to assign the request to the appropriate person. Received a resident requesting a new key for the their unit? Send the request directly to the front desk manager who can then discuss the matter directly with the resident while you move onto the next item on your agenda. 

Be Flexible

It is easy to sit down at the start of the week and make an agenda assigning how many minutes or hours you will spend on each task. 
But the truth is that no matter how much you plan you cannot plan for the unexpected like a flood in the parking garage or an elevator power outage.  
Remember that you are not super-man and a task that appears simple may take longer than anticipated. Be flexible and remember that sometimes you just have to go with the flow. 

Identify What is ‘Urgent’ and What is ‘Important’ 

Find out what work orders are important and what work orders require immediate attention. Define work that, if not completed by the end of the day or in the next several hours, will have negative consequences and the work that can is ongoing or preventative. 

Swimming Pool Etiquette for Courteous Condo Tenants

swimming pool etiquette

When you live in a condo community, swimming pool etiquette is more complex than just not peeing in the pool.

Just like any community location, manners go a long way in helping everyone get along. Swimming pool etiquette is every bit as important as laundry room etiquette or keeping the noise down at night. And it goes far beyond not peeing in the pool.

Even though we know we should say “please” and “thank you” and we should hold the door for the person walking in behind us, we don’t learn swimming pool etiquette the same way.

This makes sense, of course. After all, few of us spend as much time in a pool as we do walking through doorways.

[Read more…]