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How long can a condo building last and what will happen next?

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[OP]
Member
Jul 26, 2016
209 posts
76 upvotes

How long can a condo building last and what will happen next?

As I may never be able to afford a house (or house type dwelling), condo seems our only choice for home ownership.

Just out of curiosity, how long can a condo building last? I assume clement and concrete can last a long long time? What will happen if the building is breaking apart yet ownership is spread out. Will government buy back the land and compensate owners?

Am currently live in a less than 30 years old condo (rental) and it's already torn and there are so many problems. Furnace is not working and windows are leaking, let alone elevators break down all the time. I know it's silly but am afraid if I buy a condo would I outlast the building and be homeless...?
28 replies
Deal Expert
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Sep 21, 2010
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That's an interesting question and I'm not sure if a new thread is needed to compare the overall total expense between condos and a detached house. I heard that the new condos w the large glass panels will be a major expense come replacement time. I dunno much though.
Hard work, inheritance, interest on interest accumulating, and stock and real estate speculation. It's all good.
Sr. Member
Oct 14, 2012
700 posts
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Woodstock
The government will not do anything, just as the government doesn't step in if a house falls apart from old age and has no value.

As the condo ages it will need to be repaired and the cost of those repairs will be paid for by the owners through their fees. If they plan properly, the fees will be spread out over many years; if they do not plan properly, the owners can get zinged with a very high special assessment which they must pay. If they cannot pay, the condo corp will put a charge against their unit which is similar to a mortgage so that when the unit is sold, the money goes first to the condo, then if there is anything left, it goes to the owner. Be very, very careful buying a condo. Have your lawyer check whether the savings for future repairs (reserve fund) looks really well managed and funded or whether you might be at risk for a large special assessment.

You could also try to reduce your risk by buying a unit in a low-rise or town-home condo rather than a unit in a high rise. Or just keep renting.

Personally, I would not risk buying a unit in a high rise condo, but that's just my opinion and many hundreds of thousands of people disagree with me.
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Oct 16, 2008
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Maple
House or condo, it will last longer than 50 years if it is maintained. Human lives a long time and there are many things that will happen. OP worries too much. Just buy what you can afford!
Eric1010 wrote: As I may never be able to afford a house (or house type dwelling), condo seems our only choice for home ownership.

Just out of curiosity, how long can a condo building last? I assume clement and concrete can last a long long time? What will happen if the building is breaking apart yet ownership is spread out. Will government buy back the land and compensate owners?

Am currently live in a less than 30 years old condo (rental) and it's already torn and there are so many problems. Furnace is not working and windows are leaking, let alone elevators break down all the time. I know it's silly but am afraid if I buy a condo would I outlast the building and be homeless...?
Deal Expert
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Jun 12, 2007
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London
All the condo owners are members in a Condo Corp/ strata and pay mandatory monthly fees. The condo Corp puts a certain amount of the monthly fees aside in a reserve fund which is used to pay for future repairs (big and small)

Condo corps in ON are required to carry out a periodic study (every 3 years) where a consultant reports on the status of the building, what will need to be fixed and when. They compare the future repair costs to the amount in the reserve fund and make recommendations as whether the fund should be increased and by how much to ensure that the all the needed future repairs can be paid

An example of an older condo is 2000 Islington near 401/Islington which was built in the late 70’s, early 80’s. The Shipp and the Kaneff condos in Mississauga are also examples of older buildings from the late 70’s
Deal Fanatic
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Jun 26, 2005
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Some things to consider when picking a condo to buy

- examine the status certificate
- look at their finances, reserve fund amount
- major repairs if any
- buy a new or newer condo
- read forums about people complaining of molds, elevator breakdowns, etc.
- higher floors is higher value (views)
- face East is better than West (Sunrise)

Above all , pick a good location. That always makes everything better. Even if it sucked and you have to sell. A good location will get a higher price.
Deal Addict
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Nov 9, 2003
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Grimsby
In Ontario the new laws that came into effect late last year are designed partly to address this situation - at a cost to condo owners of course. Property management companies and their managers now have to be registered and receive training. There is a wealth of information here.

Condo board members also have to pass a test, it is not difficult and failure almost impossible but it requires upwards of 3 hours to complete. It will make it much harder to get owners onto a board
169norm and rfdfd make very valid points.
[OP]
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Jul 26, 2016
209 posts
76 upvotes
Thanks for all the input. Maybe I didn't express myself well enough. My question is not about condo maintenance. I assume even well-maintained condos don't last forever... there must be a point when too much needed to be fixed and money run out or else, then what will happen next?

I don't think I over-worry. It is just a question should be asked sooner or later, as history of high-rise in Canada is not even 50 years (oldest built in 70's). If I own a condo, I still want to pass onto the next generations when I die, so it is something to ponder upon.
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Oct 13, 2008
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Eric1010 wrote: Thanks for all the input. Maybe I didn't express myself well enough. My question is not about condo maintenance. I assume even well-maintained condos don't last forever... there must be a point when too much needed to be fixed and money run out or else, then what will happen next?

I don't think I over-worry. It is just a question should be asked sooner or later, as history of high-rise in Canada is not even 50 years (oldest built in 70's). If I own a condo, I still want to pass onto the next generations when I die, so it is something to ponder upon.
If you intend on living your ENTIRE life in a condo ... then you would want your inquiry answered.

If you DO NOT intend on living your ENTIRE life in a condo ... then your question is irrelevant.
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[OP]
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Jul 26, 2016
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AV-Fishing wrote: If you intend on living your ENTIRE life in a condo ... then you would want your inquiry answered.

If you DO NOT intend on living your ENTIRE life in a condo ... then your question is irrelevant.
LOL condo is pretty much the entering point of home ownership now and city government is building them crazy lots to squeeze huge property tax out of it. For one who can only afford to live in a condo to leave a condo, the next road will be in the street... I don't want to be homeless here in winter chills
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Oct 13, 2008
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Eric1010 wrote: LOL condo is pretty much the entering point of home ownership now and city government is building them crazy lots to squeeze huge property tax out of it. For one who can only afford to live in a condo to leave a condo, the next road will be in the street... I don't want to be homeless here in winter chills
Worry too much. Condo is a stepping stone to ownership of a property. Take what you can afford at this point and then move on.

Asking how long they last is not a realistic question. Just look at the condos in the Bamburgh Circle area ... they've been there for 20+ years. You see it crumbling? No.
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[OP]
Member
Jul 26, 2016
209 posts
76 upvotes
AV-Fishing wrote: Worry too much. Condo is a stepping stone to ownership of a property. Take what you can afford at this point and then move on.

Asking how long they last is not a realistic question. Just look at the condos in the Bamburgh Circle area ... they've been there for 20+ years. You see it crumbling? No.
They don't build houses in Toronto no more. There's no moving on if I decide to stay in Toronto. Hence I ask that question.

I read news about condo building crumble in Scarborough and North York. Basically if owner asks for less than $100K for 2 bedrooms that condo's got serious structural issues. I know tenants were asking for help as they can't afford to repair/rebuild the whole condo and can't get it sold to someone and walk away. I found no followup in the news, and am curious to know.
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Dec 26, 2005
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Thornhill
Thought it was (bylaw?) 99 years but I only vaguely remember reading that.

edit: just googled around and I doubt what I thought is true. All I see is max 99 year leases.

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Eric1010 wrote: Thanks for all the input. Maybe I didn't express myself well enough. My question is not about condo maintenance. I assume even well-maintained condos don't last forever... there must be a point when too much needed to be fixed and money run out or else, then what will happen next?

I don't think I over-worry. It is just a question should be asked sooner or later, as history of high-rise in Canada is not even 50 years (oldest built in 70's). If I own a condo, I still want to pass onto the next generations when I die, so it is something to ponder upon.
If you live in a condo and there comes a time when your condo building is not worth repairing, then the likely scenario is that owners will continue to sell off their units and drive the price down until the building is condemned (if the lack of repairs make it unlivable). At this point it will be sold off and any proceeds go towards the owners. Throughout the life of the condo your condo fees should keep rising to take care of foreseen costs - but no one can predict every cost and circumstance.

Here is an example of a condo building with major problems that was torn down:
https://globalnews.ca/news/1771376/fort ... y-dispute/
The owners are left holding the bag and suing people to try and get their money back. A little different than your scenario since it's a newer building but is meant to show you how it's the owners that deal with the fallout. If these owners are left holding the bag, owners of a 50 year old unit certainly would.

I'm not trying to scare you - merely to answer your question. In short, condos are supposed to predict these costs and build them into condo fees. But there could come a time where repairs are too expensive or not possible - at this point owners are left holding the bag.
Deal Addict
Jan 31, 2007
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You can buy a house and still have major issues. I guess you could sell it for the land. What if it's a townhouse or a semi. Harder to do. The risks are the same. But to be honest with you. The build quality of condos to be dont seem of the highest quality.
Deal Addict
Feb 5, 2009
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Newmarket
That is an interesting question that I had discussed before, I am not sure why some people have an issue with you asking it.

Basically nothing lasts forever, with a house you have a land value, with a condo if you the dwelling is gone you have nothing. The house should easily last 70 to a 100 years if maintained properly, so it's not a question if you want to live there your whole life or not, the large condo building built with concrete should last much longer, but at the end of the day everything has a life span, and once this is over you have no value left.
Newbie
May 22, 2009
58 posts
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Capital City
A condo building that must be torn down could be on valuable land, but how valuable would that land have to be to get the owners anything close to even a downpayment somewhere else?

Anyway, as land becomes more scarce in big cities, more and more people will live in the sky, and we will have to get over our ideas of homes being an investment, instead of an expense like all others.
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Oct 26, 2008
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BC
Eric1010 wrote: .... as history of high-rise in Canada is not even 50 years (oldest built in 70's). If I own a condo, I still want to pass onto the next generations when I die, so it is something to ponder upon.
Be assured that there were plenty of high-rise condos built in the 1960's in Toronto, and some before that.

Largely irrespective of building age, when the cost of maintenance becomes greater than individual owners can bear, developers see the underlying land value and start acquiring units.
It is not an easy process to get the required support for tearing the building down but it happens.
Don't rely on the prospect of having a unit pass down several generations as with a SFH. It could happen with a condo, but no guarantees.

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