What is a Condominium?


  • High-rise or low-rise (under four stories)
  • Town or row houses
  • Duplex (one unit over another)
  • Triplex (stack of three units)
  • Single detached houses
  • Stacked townhouses, or
  • Freehold plots

There are even mixed-use condominiums that are partly residential and partly commercial buildings. They come in various sizes with diverse features and they can be found in almost every price range.

All content in these pages adapted from the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s “Condominium Buyer’s Guide. To see the full guide visit www.cmhc.ca


Condominiums come in all different sizes and types of buildings. Common types include new, re-sale, and conversion.

A “new” condominium is one that is either under construction or has been newly completed.

Newly constructed condominiums can be an attractive option for the prospective owner. They offer all of the benefits of a newly constructed building (fresh appearance, modern fittings, surfaces, elevators, appliances) while providing unit owners with the chance to customize their units.

You can purchase a new condominium from the developer either before for during its construction and well before the condominium corporation is formed. A developer may have some unsold units available after the condominium has been completed and registered. In some market conditions, a developer may wait to sell a majority (or all) of the units before registering the condominium corporation or starting construction. Deposits are typically required to secure, or reserve, a condominium unit in a new development.

When looking over the drawings and specifications, find out whether the measurements reflect the actual floor area of the unit or include the exterior and interior wall floor space areas. Similarly, you should find our if there are plans to reduce the ceiling height in any locations in the unit to accommodate duct work and other mechanical or electrical services.

You should also be sure to ask about the future construction plans for adjacent open areas as your view may change significantly with the construction of a neighbouring high-rise.

Some key question to consider include:

  • Are there any special provisions to limit noise between units?
  • How are the units heated, cooled and ventilated?
  • How are odours controlled?
  • Is the building energy-efficient?
  • Who operates and maintains the heating and air conditioning systems?
  • What options are available for suite wall and floor finishes, cabinets and fixtures?
  • What is included in the purchase price? Who pays for maintenance?
  • Are there any surcharges above and beyond the purchase price?
  • How long after construction is completed do you have to wait before you move in? (*Note that agreements of purchase and sale may contain provision that allow the developer to extend the dates for making the units available for occupancy. If the move-in date is an important consideration for you, ensure that you are aware of any occupancy delay clause in your purchase agreement and plan accordingly.)


Your province may have legislation that provides a “cooling off” period during which buyers can review the information contained in the disclosure statement and rescind their agreement to purchase if they are not comfortable with their original purchase decision. Ensure you obtain and carefully review the disclosure statement within the specified timeframe. If a cooling off period is not provided for in your provincial condominium legislation, try making it a condition of your offer to purchase to allow you to have a few days to review this information.


Make a wish list to clarify which features are most and least important to you when looking for a home. Using this wish list will keep your house hunt focused and effective.


Most provinces have new home warranty programs, which include new condominium projects. Warranty programs are put in place to ensure that new dwellings are properly constructed and that they meet the construction specifications. Often the developer makes arrangements for independent inspection companies to audit the condominium, individual units and common elements within the first year of construction. The developer is responsible for correcting defects in, or omissions of, warranted elements that occur during the warranty period. Should the developer default on their obligation, the warranty program can provide funding to correct deficiencies in warranted elements up to a specified maximum dollar amount.

All of the owners of new condominiums are expected to cooperate with the new home warranty inspection and to report any defects or omissions in their units. You should be aware that new home warranties do not cover every item that one might construe as a defect.

Be sure you are aware of what the warranty does and does not cover, and for how long, before making a claim. Check with your provincial or territorial government to find out more about the warranty program as program coverage varies from province to province.


  • A lower purchase price;
  • More choice of location within the building;
  • A broader range of options and/or upgrades;
  • Less risk of having to undergo costly, noisy, and intrusive repairs and renovations;
  • New home warranty protection.


  • Differences between the plans and finished product;
  • Inaccessibility of your initial deposit for the duration of construction;
  • Financial institutions may not give you a mortgage on an unregistered condominium;
  • Construction of your unit may not be completed by the expected date;
  • You may have to move into your unit while construction continues in others, and this can be noisy and disruptive.


Condominiums come in all different sizes and types of buildings. Common types include new, re-sale, and conversion.

“Re-Sale” condominiums are units that have already been occupied, typically in older buildings, and are offered for sale by the current owner.

One of the advantages of purchasing an existing condominium is that you get to see the unit, building and grounds before you make your purchase. You also have the opportunity to meet other unit owners, speak with the Board of Directors and ask questions of the property manager.


When making an offer on a re-sale unit, ensure it is conditional upon obtaining, and having the time to review, the corporation documents available to the purchaser under provincial legislation, including an estoppel or status certificate. There may be a fee for this certificate, but it will give you the opportunity to review information including the condominium’s governing documents, financial statements and insurance coverage.

It is important to thoroughly review these documents, as once you sign the offer to purchase you are contractually bound and cannot change your mind if, for example you later find out the condominium does not allow pets or requires major repairs.

Provincial new home warranty programs do not protect deposits made when buying a re-sale condominium and won’t provide protection for construction defects once the applicable warranty periods have expired. Therefore, it is important to have the purchase of the unit contingent upon the satisfactory inspection of the unit and building by a qualified home inspector, professional engineer or architect.


You get what you see;

There are no lengthy waiting periods before you can move in unless provided for in the condition of sale;

Deposits are often much lower for re-sale purchases and there is no GST.

You can check out the condominium “community” in advance to see if the corporation is well run and the people who live in it are compatible with your needs and lifestyle;

Older condominiums can have larger unit sizes.


Fewer options with regard to choice of unit (within the building), decorating, or upgrades;

Older re-sale condominiums may require more maintenance and repair than new ones;

Some amenities that you may find in newer buildings, like a workout room or whirlpool, high speed internet connection, or certain security features, may not be available;

Older resale units may not be as energy efficient due to different construction standards in newer buildings;

Major repairs may be impending;

You will only receive the portion of the new home warranty that has not yet expired.

All content in these pages are from the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s “Condominium Buyer’s Guide”.  View the full "Condo Buyers Guide" provided by CMHC.