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Advice for 1st-time home owners?

technodoll
May 26th, 2006, 10:39 AM
we're so excited, just got approved for mortgage and visiting a SUPER condo tomorrow morning, it may be just what we have been looking for the past 2 years! since this is the first time for us (buying a home) and it's a direct sale, ie no real-estate agent, what are the things i should be looking for, what questions should i ask, etc? any advice, any good stories or horror stories to share? we are in Montreal. thanks in advance! :)

Puppyluv
May 26th, 2006, 10:45 AM
Get an inspection!!! Don't let the seller give you an inspection report, hire someone yourself. If you need a good refernce in mtrl, the guy I used when I bought my condo was great.

Sunkist/Winnie
May 26th, 2006, 10:49 AM
Maybe ask a real estate lawyer for advice? I'd imagine a lawyer will still have to be involved to finalize any sale you do make...why not talk to one now that you know you are pre-approved. They know you're going to use their services once you settle on a new place so he might give you the consultation for free.

Congrats by the way, first time buying a home is very exciting. Especially when you walk in and you know that it's all yours and you can paint the walls hot pinks with purple polka dots and orange stripes if you want :)

technodoll
May 26th, 2006, 10:52 AM
puppyluv, could you please PM me the contact details for your inspector, and approximate cost for the job? of course i want this place examined from top to bottom, even if built 9 years ago, you never know... thanks so much! :)

technodoll
May 26th, 2006, 10:54 AM
sunkist, excellent point. i don't know the first thing about lawyers (except all those nasty jokes, LOL), how do I go about finding a good one in real-estate?... i'm not keen on yellow-pages, anyone can advertise there... ? or do i just use the one the condo sellers have? yes so exciting, but also like walking in a mine-field when you don't know what to expect, LOL :o

BMDLuver
May 26th, 2006, 10:57 AM
As you are in the province of quebec, you do not use a lawyer but a Notary for home purchases. There is a great one in Dorval if you would like her name?


Also, check the condo board rules as you might find that if a few owners decide they don't like akitas, you can be asked to leave or sell. It wouldn't be the first time in a condo that has happened.

phoenix
May 26th, 2006, 11:06 AM
One thing I'd advise after my condo experience (warning* it is a horror story and not told to dissuade you but rather to make sure you know what to look out for*)

I bought my condo townhouse in 2002. At that time the condo fees were stated, and were reasonable. BE SURE TO READ THE CONDO AGREEMENT very carefully WITH A LAWYER> and make sure that you can live with the restrictions set forth. Sometimes, even what you put on your door as decoration is limited. Certainly look for clauses re. animals (where they can and cannot be...)
Anyway, I wanted to put it up for sale in 2004. However, I could not. It was discovered that our reserve fund was not enough to meet the required repair needs of the building for then next "x' amount of years (I can't remember how many years they have to save ahead for...) So, a reserve fund study was completed and every owner was assessed a 2000$ fee to cover it. Just like that. Even if you didn't have that laying around, they threatened to get a lawyer against those owners to force them to pay. Then, our condo fees were increased to 2x the amount they were at! This was not done by vote, it was just done by the manager. Finally, 6 months later, (after I had carried 2 mortgages for 4 months), I could put it up for sale. It took 6 months to sell, partly because all of these repairs were being done to the exterior and it looked like hell, and partly because 4 units went up for sale immediately after sales were released.
So- make sure you read the condo agreement carefully, and check to see that a reserve fund study was done (the law changed recently on this) and that the reserve fund is healthy. This may be less of an issue on newer properties.

Anyway, that said, owning your own place is an incredible feeling, and I hope that everything goes well for you!!

technodoll
May 26th, 2006, 11:08 AM
Also, check the condo board rules as you might find that if a few owners decide they don't like akitas, you can be asked to leave or sell. It wouldn't be the first time in a condo that has happened.

:eek: :eek: :eek:

ok yes, if we like the place that would be one of the first questions to ask! are there any regulations against pets, what are the rules, etc... for sure we are moving into a bigger place "for the dogs" and it's a priority that the place we buy leaves us alone... thankfully they are both quiet and well-behaved and we have rarely met anyone who doesn't fawn over them cuties :o

ah yes, notary and not lawyer, i had heard that. any references are appreciated :)

technodoll
May 26th, 2006, 11:13 AM
phoenix, thank you SO much for that, it's exactly the type of information i'm looking for... the building dates from 1997 and looks solid, but you never know. I will definitely ask for a history of the condo fees to see increases over the years, and projected increase, also the financial state of the common property (ie reserve fund), what grounds/ equipment is shared and what is owned privately. each unit has its own entry (no common halls, doors, elevator, etc) and looks very clean & well -maintained... i suppose we will ask who the neighbors are and if the adjacent units are rented out, or if the owners liver there, makes a diff in the well-being of the environment! thanks for sharing your story, i'm glad it's all behind you know, holy cow how did you manage with 2 mortgages for so long? :eek:

BoxerRescueMTL
May 26th, 2006, 11:20 AM
Also, check the condo board rules as you might find that if a few owners decide they don't like akitas, you can be asked to leave or sell. It wouldn't be the first time in a condo that has happened.
I would go one step further and find out if other coproprieters own dogs (large dogs specifically), how many of them do, how long they have lived there and find out if they have had problems with non dog owners in the building. At our condo we were allowed dogs and most of us had one or two. It was great. My friends owned a condo in the building next door to us (same condo rules and regulations). They also owned a Great Dane (very well behaved). There were not any other large dog owners in their building. Turns out they had some dog haters :eek: They complained every chance they got, made up things that were happening (barking etc) and made their lives very difficult. They voted that their building was "no dogs allowed". My firends have their condo for sale now :sad:

phoenix
May 26th, 2006, 11:24 AM
i'm glad it's all behind you know, holy cow how did you manage with 2 mortgages for so long? :eek:

Good point about the rentals. They do make a huge difference in terms of 'pride of ownership'.
I'm so glad to be out, too... but I think in a larger city it would be different, it wouldn't have been possible to get so outdated. The problem with ours particularly is it started as a coop (run by the owners) and then had fewer volunteers to help and then they decided to hire a manager. That's when everything hit the fan.
2 mortgages was very hard. We rented the basement of our new house and scrimped and saved. No pets, no eating out, no furniture!!! Luckily both of us were working so we were able to do it. We also took out a line of credit and payed it off with the proceeds of the sale of the condo. We bought our house in August of that year (my then-fiance, now husband payed the down payment for it and my money was all tied up in my condo)... and kept separate addresses until it sold so we didn't have to pay capital gains. It sold in May... 10 months later.

meb999
May 26th, 2006, 11:29 AM
ah yes, notary and not lawyer, i had heard that. any references are appreciated :)

If you wait a year...I'll be a notary by then ;)

i don't know the first thing about lawyers (except all those nasty jokes, LOL), how do I go about finding a good one in real-estate?
In Québec notaries are lawyers who do only contract work. They don't go to court (so their not as 'nasty' LOL!!)


All the advice you've gotten is right on the money. Read the Déclaration of co-ownership (in french : Déclaration de copropriété) very carefully, it's a long document, and often really boring, but it's necessary for you find out what you're getting into. A condo is just that 'co-ownership', althought you have exclusive usage of your appartement, the co-owners can pretty much vote on anything...from your outside decorations and possibilities of renovations to which pets you can have. If there are any clauses in the declaration that you don't understand, feel free to pm me or ask your notary. Lawyers and notaries have a knack for making simple things sound complicated ;)

Your notary will verify the condo's reserve fund, their insurance, and stuff like that. You have to see a notary for your mortgage contract anyways (a mortgage contract HAS to be notarised, or it isn't valid), so the best is to have him or her draw up your sale contract too. Both contracts together should set you back between 1000$ to 1350$. Alot of notaries charge more for a condo than a house because it's a little more complicated and requires more work, so be sure to mention that your buying a condo when you call for quotes.

technodoll
May 26th, 2006, 11:45 AM
meb999, invaluable info there too, thanks SOOO much! question: if the people selling the condo are doing it direct (no sales agent), would it be fair to split the notary costs?... or is the buyer responsible for all those fees?

Sunkist/Winnie
May 26th, 2006, 11:56 AM
Sorry I can't help with references, our system in NS appears to be different from the one in Quebec.

Another thing i found when I purchased my first house was it was good to have a slush fund for misc. expenses I hadn't anticpated. I tried to budget for everything I could think of but I missed things the first time, the slush fund came in handy and allowed me to not stress about $$ - at least not stress that much.

Mabe best to talk to someone who just moved in Quebec to find out some of the 'gotchas' for fees but the ones I can remember from here are:utility hook-ups fees, moving costs, lawyer/notary fees, property taxes (down here a % is due when you take ownership).

Do you live in something that is very similar to what you are looking at buying? I thought I had everything I needed for cleaning supplies from living in my apartment, but what I had was totally inadequate to look after a house. Not to mention all the outside tools I never needed before. It's the $10 - $15 stuff that added up that also made me appreciate my slush fund.

technodoll
May 26th, 2006, 12:02 PM
oooh good points... moving, utility hookups, etc. we're moving from a rented appartment to a condo so yes, same lifestyle, won't need a lawnmower or anything yet, LOL! i just hope the place is as nice as the photos & owner's description, it's bang-on the right location & neighborhood (two streets away from where we are now!), and the price is right... bob barker, pray for us! :party:

meb999
May 26th, 2006, 12:07 PM
meb999, invaluable info there too, thanks SOOO much! question: if the people selling the condo are doing it direct (no sales agent), would it be fair to split the notary costs?... or is the buyer responsible for all those fees?

Buyer is responsible for those -- I think it's better that way, because then YOU chose the notary, so your sure he's lookin' out for YOUR best interest. You can call around, some notaries are cheaper than others. I would be very weary of anyone charging less than 800$ (for both contracts) because that means they work on volume, and are more likely to make a mistake. Since a small mistke in a sales contract or a mortgage contract can have VERY serious reprecussions....it's kinda worth the extra $$

I agree with Crystal (BoxerRescueMTL), you should ask if any of the co-owners own dogs. That way you'll be sure that after you move in, they won't vote for a 'no dogs' clause....

meb999
May 26th, 2006, 12:13 PM
Mabe best to talk to someone who just moved in Quebec to find out some of the 'gotchas' for fees but the ones I can remember from here are:utility hook-ups fees, moving costs, lawyer/notary fees, property taxes (down here a % is due when you take ownership).


Here you gotta also worry about Welcome Tax (your notary will let you know how much it will be).
Luckily, since the condo is pre-owned, you won't have to worry about sales tax (we bought a new home, and had to pay a whole lotta sales tax :eek: )

Also, you'll have what's called tax adjustements. Let's say, for example, you're moving in on july 1st. And let's say the current owners have paid their preoperty and school tax up to december 2006. Well, you'll have reimbourse them for the taxes paid from july 1st to december. The notary will calculate that for you.

And then you have to think about paint, new furniture, etc, etc...it's a really good idea to have a little safety net saved up before the big move!

Lucky Rescue
May 26th, 2006, 12:26 PM
Everything has benefits and drawbacks. As everyone has mentioned, the condo fees is money that you will never see again, and you still have to follow rules even if you own your home.

Some of the rules can be just nuts - no barbeques or garbage cans left on decks, no clothes hanging outside, and one even insisted an owner change the window treatments in her unit to better conform with the others.:eek:

Personally, the reason I love owning my home is to do exactly as I please, but condo life certainly seems to suit many people.

Good luck!!:)

BoxerRescueMTL
May 26th, 2006, 01:00 PM
and one even insisted an owner change the window treatments in her unit to better conform with the others.
Yes! The building my b/f was in before we got our condo together had a white curtains/blinds only rule!

Lucky Rescue
May 26th, 2006, 01:58 PM
The building my b/f was in before we got our condo together had a white curtains/blinds only rule!


Dang! Way too many anal-retentive people around with too much time on their hands...I can't see myself paying 150,000$ then not even being able to decorate as I wish.

technodoll
May 26th, 2006, 02:05 PM
if we had the $$ for a house, that would be our first choice :) BUT we want to live on the plateau to avoid commuting to work, and that means houses are out of the question... sigh. Cheapie condos here are 200K & up if you want more than 800sqf of living space, so you can imagine what houses do for! :eek:
i'm still SOOOO excited about tomorrow morning, please send prayers our way that everything will be good... both the condo AND the condo board rules AND the neigbors AND the offer... :fingerscr :fingerscr

Prin
May 26th, 2006, 02:35 PM
With newer condos, there is less of a reserve, so you have to be ready to fork out for any emergency renos too.

Definitely ask about the dogs- you don't want them voting you out after you've settled in already, or stopping you from getting more dogs in the future.

Also, find out if the floors are concrete. A lot of recent condos are all wood and it's not as sound-proof and sturdy as cement.

I know a great inspector if you still need one.

When we bought our house, we paid the notary (only us) and the owner is supposed to pay for the certificate of location (we paid for that too because then you get a warranty that protects you if anything is wrong).

That's about all I've got.;)

technodoll
May 26th, 2006, 02:48 PM
really appreciate ALL your great advice everyone, and if we like the condo tomorrow morning and want to buy it, i'm taking notes of everything said below and hopefully ease the buying pains! :crazy:

Puppyluv
May 26th, 2006, 04:47 PM
Oh, find out about tiny things on your coproprieteres agreement. eg. policy on post dated checks, noise, or if you give a check for a condo fee and ask the treasurer to please not deposit it until tomorrow, because you are waiting for a deposit you made to clear so that the check doesn't bounce, and then he ignores you and deposits it today anyways and then makes you pay for both sides of the bounced check fee, because it was in clause 23.45.3768 of your contract.
Oh does this place have parking (not street)? because for example, the place I'm in, some units have a parking space associated with it and some do not, but some of the people who own a parking space don't have cars so they decided that they didn't want to have to pay the taxes on it, so they had a vote, and since there aren't many owners in our condo, they won, and now everyone has to pay a portion of the taxes. I asked if I was allowed to use a parking space then (even part time) and they said no, they belong to x y and z, yet I still have to pay part of their taxes....:mad:

chico2
May 26th, 2006, 05:00 PM
My son had a condo,could not wait to get out of there,no Satellite-dishes allowed,no barking dogs,no laundry on the balcony etc.etc... also every time they decided to do repairs to the area,his condo-fees went up.
Just before he bought his house they wanted a one time fee of $600 to fix up the concrete steps to all the condos.
Often adding the pros and cons,even though you might pay more for a house initially,it will be cheaper in the long run.Good Luck!

Skryker
May 26th, 2006, 05:22 PM
There's so much good advice here already! I was going to mention the parking issue-not just your space(s), but visitor parking-be sure to ask about it; is there any or is it on-street? Does each unit have a designated visitor parking space or area? Is there a time limit or over-night ban on visitor parking? It can be a real head-ache and a sore spot with neighbours.

Disbursments-can include property tax, water tax, pre-paid condo fees of any type, anything the current owner may have paid in advance (probably not a full oil-tank) like equalized billing for utilities or rent on water heaters.

We got mortage insurance b/c it worked out to $8 per month, but it is limited to death by 8 specific causes. It might work out better for you to get life insurance in the amount of your mortgage (this is advice we got from our insurance broker years ago)-not term life, but a whole life type like Freedom 55 where you paid up to age 55 or 65 and then the policy sits and earns interest for you. If you are in your 20's and non-smokers, it won't be much per month and the monthly payment never goes up. Then if anything ever happens to one of you, you have the money quickly w/o it going thru probate and you can decide to pay off the mortgage or use the money another way, where mortgage life insurance just pays off the mortgage. Also, it's an investment, a retirement plan and an emergency fund all in one-after a few years, you can borrow from your policy if you need to.

Also, home owner's insurance. Read carefully to make sure you are getting what you think you are getting.

Sorry so long, but these are complicated issues I'm trying to short form. :D

Prin
May 27th, 2006, 07:48 PM
Oh, ya, if money is an issue, you can also "RAP" if this is your first home. You can take out a loan, buy RRSP's with the loan, take the rrsp money to pay back the loan, and then you have 15 years to pay back the rrsp. At the end of the year, when you do your taxes, you claim the RRSPs and get a pretty big tax credit (to pay for repairs/welcome tax/part of the mortgage etc). But you can only do it on your first home. ;)

Puppyluv
May 27th, 2006, 08:09 PM
How'd it go? Did you like it????

technodoll
May 27th, 2006, 09:08 PM
yes we liked it, not love at first sight (photos made it look bigger than it actually is) but there is lots of potential! love the neighborhood, and going for a 2nd visit tomorrow and will prolly make a conditional offer to purchase (even if the place was inspected in Jan 06 and we read the report, not good enough for us - so we will use the inspector you recommended :) ). also the condo rules are 50 pages, need to run through that also. the section on pets says tolerated as long as they are not a nuisance, if deemed a nuisance by the board, you have two weeks after getting a notice to get rid of your pet :eek: - sooo we also want to talk with the head of the condo org, and ask all the right questions. our two dogs rarely bark, will never be let outside alone, etc, so not really scared there... but still. need to ask.

also it was quite humid in there, looks like the windows were not really opened, felt stuffy... there is an air exchanger, anybody know about those and if they really work?

all in all we're excited, not thrilled because nothing is perfect, there is not much light and we lose our 9' ceilings (sniff), and we would need renovations down the road like rehauling the bathroom, i don't like it right now, but it's all very liveable. and the price is right, that is the bottom line. more to come tomorrow!! :thumbs up

jesse's mommy
May 27th, 2006, 09:21 PM
Is this the first condo you looked at? I would look at a few others. It sounds like you have a lot of negatives about it. I've always felt that you know it as soon as you walk through the door. You start putting your furniture in places immediately and just know it's your "home". I wouldn't rush into it if it's one of the first homes you looked at.

technodoll
May 27th, 2006, 09:37 PM
it's a pretty tough call... we've been looking online for a good year, and have not yet seen anything we like enough to visit that is in our neighborhood and in our price-range, so this occasion does seem nice... i doubt that we would find the perfect place, i mean we'd always have to give something up to gain something else... sigh. if it weren't for the dogs, our criteria would be much different!

if the home inspector can guarantee us the air quality is good, and the level of humidity is normal (very humid here the past couple of days), then my biggest concerns are settled. if not then too bad... it wasn't meant to be.

ps: the wood-burning fireplace is a big plus :)

Puppyluv
May 27th, 2006, 09:58 PM
Not to dissuade you, but I have to agree with JM. When you walk into the place, you should just know. The condo I bought was the first one I looked at, but the minute I stepped into it, I knew it was it. I rushed home to call my dad as fast as I could to tell him that I had found "my home". I looked at other places after, but I just knew the 1st one was it. Even with all the weird furniture and decor the old owner had, it was perfect.
On the other hand, my parents just bought their first "empty nest" house. My dad never really liked it at all, but went along with my mom, because he thought it was what she wanted. My mom wasn't estatic about it, but decided it was "good enough" (for the price they payed, they should have gotten a lot more than "good enough"). Once they put the offer in, my mom started to think "oh no, I don't know anymore..." but by this point it was too late. Since they moved in, their happiness with it has declined, and they are now doing renos on it that will total to more than a 1/4 million, and will take over 9 months.

All I'm saying is that this is a big purchase, you will be paying it off for sometime, and it is the place you will be retreating to each night.

If you are still looking around, this is the site I used to find my place: http://www.montrealpropertyfinder.com/index.shtml
At the time, only Shelly (the creator) was running it (she now has more agents). The searches are free and then you can (if you want) use an agent for the rest of the purchase. I did, but it is by no means necessary. They are very knowledgable on the properties, and their emails reflect it (the emails are, or at least were, part of the free service)

Prin
May 28th, 2006, 02:05 AM
Is this the first condo you looked at? I would look at a few others. It sounds like you have a lot of negatives about it. I've always felt that you know it as soon as you walk through the door. You start putting your furniture in places immediately and just know it's your "home". I wouldn't rush into it if it's one of the first homes you looked at.
I agree. After looking at houses for a year, we pulled up to this one the night before, just to be sure we wouldn't waste the realtor's time making her show us a heap, and right away, I knew this was it. We walked in the door, and even with the pink kitchen and smoke stained 70's bathroom, we knew this was it.

It's going to be your home for who knows how long- you have to love it. Our house needs endless work and was one of the last ones here under 100 thousand and we still LOVE it.

Besides, moving day is only July 1st, no? You have plenty of time.:)

Do you have an agent working for you? If not, you should. It saves a ton of time and you don't have to pay them. ;) (seller pays)

meb999
May 28th, 2006, 08:20 PM
If you are still looking around, this is the site I used to find my place: http://www.montrealpropertyfinder.com/index.shtml


I like the mls web site...there's alot more properties on there...
http://www.mls.ca/map.aspx?AreaID=1054

technodoll
May 28th, 2006, 09:48 PM
well our 2nd visit went very well, once the windows are open and the air exchanger is turned on, it's so breezy and wonderful! and unbelievably quiet... just what we are looking for. Hubby was just hesitant to make that first step (conditional offer to purchase) but now that it's done, he's very happy :D so we now have 10 days to get the place inspected, read the condo rules from top to bottom, pore over the building's technical papers & speak with the director of the condo board, and fix our finances. If all that is settled, off to the notary we go! i really love the place and it's in move-in condition, the eventual renovations we can tackle one at a time once we're in. nothing is urgent and when money frees up, we can do this and that... we've been researching and saving for 2 years now and don't feel it's rushed, it's the perfect location & price for us. We would like bigger, but just cannot afford it at this point, in this neighborhood. so... :fingerscr :o

Frenchy
May 29th, 2006, 12:32 PM
Now that it's official;CONGRATS!!!When is the open house party and what do you want us to bring????:crazy: :party:

meb999
May 29th, 2006, 01:09 PM
VERY exciting!! :thumbs up
It's all very stressfull, but you'll see owning your own place is awesome!

Prin
May 29th, 2006, 11:36 PM
Wooo!! Housewarming comin' up!! :party: :party:

Congrats! You will soon be of the minority in Montreal who aren't paying the monopoly man's mortgages off.:evil:

technodoll
May 30th, 2006, 08:46 AM
weeeell it's not done yet, LOL! but chances are 90% at this point. Puppyluv, thanks again for the referral on the inspector, the one you recommended was not available but his boss scheduled someone else he said was as good. the company looks great :) , so getting that done Thursday afternoon. Man this is exciting! doesn't feel real yet though... i guess that will happen when i start packing and realising i have way to0 much junk to get rid of :eek:
if i have good news by the weekend, of course i'll share the good news, LOL! :party: :crazy: :party: