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October 2004

I could live here: Finding a sound and solid strata property

For consumers who have hesitated to buy a condo because of uncertainty about water penetration problems, thereĀ’s good news. Over the past several years, a tremendous amount of information has become available to help buyers find a well constructed home.

Your REALTOR® will help you make a thorough, informed and educated investigation of a strata property before purchasing. REALTORS® have access to the resources and information they need to help their clients assess potential problems in strata buildings.

Before purchasing a strata property, here are some evaluation measures you should take with the assistance of your REALTOR®.

  1. Review Strata Council minutes. Obtain copies of Strata Council minutes for at least two years, along with by-laws, financial statements, Annual General Meeting minutes, and any engineering reports that may have been completed. Look for past problems, previous repairs, special assessments, and upcoming expenditures. Your REALTOR® will ensure that proper clauses are inserted into your offer to purchase to obtain these documents.

  2. Ensure a maintenance program is in place. Reading Strata Council minutes and speaking with the property manager will help you determine whether the building has a solid preventative maintenance program in place.

  3. Check contingency fund. By law, a portion of strata owners' monthly maintenance fees must go into a "contingency fund" to pay for extraordinary repairs, such as a new roof or exterior painting. Find out whether the building has a substantial contingency fund to cover any upcoming expenses.

  4. Review the Strata Property Disclosure Statement. Sellers are required to complete this form, which serves as a checklist for buyers to address concerns about the property's condition. It should be carefully reviewed for any defects or potential problems.

  5. Investigate the warranty program and builder background. Whether the condo is new or resale, your REALTOR® can find out what type of warranty the building carries, noting the limits and duration of coverage. He or she may also be able to help you obtain background information about the builder or developer of the project.

  6. Consult with a professional home inspector. You may consider hiring an accredited home inspection professional (one who carries Errors & Omissions insurance) to inspect the condition of the suite, common areas, and the overall building structure. Your REALTOR® will insert the appropriate clause into your offer to purchase to ensure you have ample time to obtain an inspection.

REALTORS® have the education and experience to speak with you further about evaluating strata properties. You can also visit the Homeowner Protection Office website at or call 1-800-407-7757 for a copy of their booklet, "Buying a New Home: a Consumer Protection Guide," useful for buyers of both new and resale homes.