29 September, 2011
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The one piece of advice I have for all condominium owners – spend the time to participate on your board for at least one term. For most people, their house will be the largest part of their financial holdings in their life. Most people will never have more cash and securities than the value of their house. For condo owners, that house equity is directly impacted by how well your condominium, strata, or HOA is managed. Poorly managed condominiums could cost you a lot of extra money.
By being on the board you will get a special look, and insight, on where your fees and contributions go to. It also presents you the “other side of the story” for complaints brought against the corporation, or between condo neighbours. There’s nothing like the experience of dealing with all the different complaints and trying to resolve as many as possible of them gracefully.
Finally, you’ll likely realize that the condominium isn’t evil. It raises money against a budget, and most boards try to make sure each and every penny is used properly. By working with the budget you can see if your fees are well managed (they normally are – the majority of fees go to electric, water, natural gas, and insurance).
You don’t need to spend your life on the board – but you have chosen a living arrangement where you share some building costs and responsibilities with your neighbours. A year or two helping out with the condominium will be beneficial not only to you, but your financial understanding – and hopefully financial health – as well.
9 September, 2011
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Building storage spaces as condominiums allows for a whole different approach to long term storage. In particular, a condominium approach allows for large scale storage.
You can certainly rent space from a commercial storage provider, but the space tends to be small – 50 sq feet or less. You can get larger space by actually leasing in a commercial park, but rental costs tend to be higher because the facility allows for businesses to operate, thereby requiring additional costs to maintain.
With a condominium based storage solution you can build only for storage, and build large. South of Sioux Falls they are trying out units large enough to hold touring busses, with a few units as large as 25×50 feet.
The development – Ultimate Space – indicates that the primary purchasers have been businesses to store inventory, but give a story of “the guy with too many cars” needing more space to tinker.
By buying the storage unit, you have a sense of predictable costs, control, the ability to upgrade or modify (within the limits of the bylaws) and a capital investment that may increase in value over time. As storage only units – the monthly condominium contribution should be relatively low as well.
Sounds like a great use of building under condominium governance and maximizing value to the purchasers.
10 July, 2011
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In my role as President of CCI South Alberta, I sometimes get emails to answer. Recently I received an email from a person who is planning to move to Calgary and was concerned that there is no method of condominium contribution control in Alberta.
They sent me four MLS listings, for different units in the same complex, and they were aggravated that the contributions were wildly different between units (varying from $400 to $505/month). Indeed, the person expressed that condominium owners “need at much protection as tenants” to prevent abusive condominium fees.
It took me a few minutes to realize that the person was equating living in a condominium to renting, and that the condominium fee was looked at as rent. They also didn’t realize that on a square foot basis, the monthly contributions only varied by a maximum of 1.5 cents/sq. foot/month. There was no connection that a larger unit may pay more in condominium contributions.
Being in the industry it seems silly that a person equates contributions to rent, and that the size of your unit has an impact on the amount of the contribution. I guess I would call that having industry blinders.
What the letter really hit home with – that people in the condominium industry need to work a lot harder to explain, express, and defined the basic tenants of condominium to the general public. When we howl to the press about the issues of condominium we assume that people understand what we mean by the word condominium. But they don’t, and we cannot assume any more that they do understand. We need to do more work at a very fundamental awareness level to the general public. Only then will our issues be understood, and we will have a change to get the support we need from the general public in building a better condominium experience.