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Buying a Strata Property in Vancouver?

The popularity of strata properties ownership is on the rise in British Columbia and especially in Metro Vancouver as more and more first-time buyers are entering the market.

The relative affordability of condos and townhomes as compared to detached homes offer benefits for many homebuyers. Approximately one and half million people in British Columbia live in strata homes.

Strata ownership is a great alternative to owning and maintaining a detached house, however, buyers need to understand that it is a different form of ownership and those considering a purchase of a strata home should know exactly what they are acquiring. Firstly, strata councils are local mini-governments that administer the Strata Property Act and the strata’s own set of rules. Secondly, strata bylaws can include restrictions on age, pets, rentals, and other factors intended to benefit all the owners, but at the same time may impose limitations.

Given the above, The Society of Notaries of BC offers the following tips to potential strata unit buyers:

  • Carefully read the strata’s bylaws and find out if any new bylaws are currently proposed at an upcoming Annual General Meeting or Special General Meeting.
  • Parking can be contentious, so find out if the parking stalls are owned by the strata lot, or are limited common property and how they would be addressed upon sale.
  • Find out whether an engineering report has been obtained to determine any current or potential problems. If so, review the findings and ask what will be done to address problems.
  • Keep in mind BC’s leaky condo crisis, and find out whether there have been problems with water, and whether it has been professionally remediated.
  • Ask whether major maintenance work is required in the future (e.g. replacing the roof, balconies, re-plumbing, etc.).
  • Look into whether any legal action is in progress against the building or strata.
  • Find out how much money is in the contingency reserve fund.
  • Smoking can be an issue, so make sure you understand the rules and restrictions and how they will impact you and the use of your home.
  • Seek advice of experienced real estate and legal professionals before you invest in a strata home.
  • Make an offer to purchase a property conditional upon your notary or lawyer’s approval.