With so many people opting for condominium living for the first time, I thought it would be a good idea to explain again just what the term means. One of the questions we hear in sales offices is “What do I actually own when I buy a suite in a high-rise building?”

It’s a good question, and the answer is packed with great news. When you buy a condominium suite, you own your unit and the exclusive use of your balcony or terrace, if the design comes with one. You also own a percentage interest in the building’s common elements and amenities, and your maintenance fees cover their upkeep and repair. The percentage is determined by the square footage of your suite, and your fee is calculated from that.

Remember that one of the wonderful things about condominium living is having access to things like outdoor terraces, courtyards, party rooms, swimming pools, gyms and the like all under your roof – and having the time to use them because their maintenance is left to someone else. Condominiums are managed by professional companies that answer to the board of directors, which is responsible for these items. The corporation also sets the rules and regulations that preserve a high quality of life for residents, as well as protecting their investment.

As a condominium suite owner, you have the same rights as a low-rise owner, in the sense that you can mortgage your home, sell it or lease it. Condominium regulations, however, prevent people from renting to different people for short periods of time and essentially using the suite as a hotel. Again, this protects your privacy, safety and investment.

This gives you a basic idea of what you own when you purchase a condo, but remember that it is your responsibility to research your individual situation. If you have any questions, ask them up front, before buying. You should know exactly what is included in your purchase price so you have a pleasant closing experience. If you have given it some thought, my advice is to GO CONDO!