Published in NST-PROP
A Buyer Watch Article by National House Buyers
There are many reasons why people make their homes in condominiums.
Some do it because their children have grown up and moved out, and
their homes are now too large. Others consider it because it is
cheaper to buy a unit in a condo rather than a landed property in
the location they want.
The sharing of
maintenance and repair responsibilities may also appeal to people
who have limited time, or are not interested in such chores, as well
as those who want recreational facilities at their doorsteps. Thus,
when you buy a condo, you are buying into a certain lifestyle,
complete with requisite facilities and services such as security,
cleaning of common areas, swimming pools, multi-purpose halls,
playgrounds for children and courts for racquet games.
The word "condominium" comes from the Latin words
"con". which means "together"; and "dominium", meaning "property".
This type of property ownership has two parts to
it: Ownership of the individual unit, and joint ownership of the
"common property" with the other unit owners in the project.
It is easy to be seduced by the "glamour" of
living in a condo. Therefore, before the allure enters your head,
you must first understand that ownership comes with shared
responsibilities and factors you should beware of. Here are some:
Payments, and more payments
As the owner of one of the units in a project, you
are required to pay a monthly service charge to cover the cost of
maintenance and the management of the common areas.
This charge will increase over time, as a result
of inflation and other aspects beyond your control. Many of the
"common" facilities and services - such as lifts, swimming pool,
gym, tennis court, landscaped gardens and even security services -
are expensive to maintain.
Many first-time condo buyers usually give little
thought to exactly how this charge is derived and are also generally
unclear about who actually does the maintenance, or who ultimately
makes the decision about what work gets done.
Furthermore, they may also not know whether it is the developer that
looks after the project, or if it is a Management Corporation (MC)
that is entrusted to handle the task.
this situation, the best thing all condo owners should do is study
their Sale and Purchase Agreements and the Strata Titles Act
carefully to understand the responsibilities that come with
stratified property ownership and the contributions to the funds
Condo residents share walls, floors, ceilings,
hallways, entrances and parking areas with their neighbours. Respect
for other people's right to the quiet and peaceful enjoyment of
their homes is therefore essential.
resident, your neighbours will appreciate (and hopefully
reciprocate) your efforts to turn down the volume of your TV or
hi-fi set, walk softly, close your doors quietly and limit your
vacuuming to reasonable hours.
residents ruin the lives of those around them, but at the same time,
you will need to have some degree of tolerance to live in a condo.
For example, you have to accept the presence of noisy, boisterous
Whether a condo is small or large, it will
invariably come with a set of rules and regulations for the benefit
of the community at large.
Whether it is the
developer or the MC that sets them, the covenants, by-laws, rules
and other conditions bind all owners.
These rules govern almost everything, from special
assessments and the election of residents' association officers to
the allocation of parking space and use of recreational facilities.
Owners who fail to follow the rules can be fined, and
complaints with the relevant authorities for the seizure of an
owner's property can be made if fines or assessments are not paid.
You can only be happy living in a condo if you are willing to follow
its rules and regulations.
All unit owners automatically become members of a
condo's MC, which is formed once strata titles have been issued to
the individual units. However, even before the issuance of these
titles, it is possible for a temporary or pro-tem committee to be
The office bearers of the MC or committee are made up
of volunteer owners. There are cases, of course, of condo owners
never volunteering their service, or even turning up for meetings.
Residents will notice such lack of participation, especially if the
project is small.
Being part of a community means being prepared to
serve on the MC or committee, or joining a special committee,
helping to get estimates for repairs, or taking responsibility for
other tasks that benefit the condo as a whole. If you are willing to
pitch in, you will earn the gratitude and respect of your fellow
Before making the move ...
When contemplating buying a condo, there are some
questions you should ask yourself. Some of these include:
- What is the history or background to the
development? For example, have there been persistent problems
with water leakage or poor collection of service charges?
- If you are purchasing a unit that has yet to
be issued with a strata title, will you have to bear the cost of
any difference in the built-up area, should it be larger than
the 'estimated size" as described in your Sale and Purchase
- What is the current financial status of the
condo's Management Corporation (MC)? Ask for a copy of the
year-end financial statement, the current budget and evidence of
adequate insurance coverage. However, this is usually easier
said than done, as many developers who manage condos consider
financial statements highly confidential. You will have to be
persistent so as not to be saddled with any sudden increase in
service charges, or end up with a badly managed condo that will
reduce the value of your property.
- Does the common property appear to be well
maintained and managed?
- Will the unit owners own the facilities as
part of the common property, or will the developer continue to
- How many units in the building does the
developer own? In cases where the developer owns a larger
number, it will continue to dominate the MC.
- How many units have been rented out? In
condos where there are more tenants than owner-occupiers,
chances are you will have fewer people volunteering for
- Are there extra parking bays for owners? Are
there enough parking bays for visitors? Are there restrictions
on visitor or owner parking? Is there any parking allocation for
- If there is vacant land around the condo,
will some new project take shape there in the future? If so,
what impact will it have on the quality of life that you expect?
You will have to talk to the existing condo
residents, particularly owner-occupiers, for answers to some of
these questions. Ultimately, the decision as to whether condo living
is right for you or not should be based on your preferences and
Buying a condo should be a well thought-out decision,
based upon an understanding of the social, financial and legal
aspects of the purchase.
Just as with the purchase of any type of house, you
should consider carefully whether it is the right place for you and
your family to live in, in the long term.
House Buyers Association (HBA) is a non-profit, non-governmental,
non-political organisation manned by volunteers. For more
information, check out its website at www.hba.org.my or email firstname.lastname@example.org