The Pros and Pains of Condo Living

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Read on some important things to consider before investing on a condominium unit.

For those of us who are urban dwellers and who thrive best in bustling cities, the prospect of living close to where we work is too exciting to ignore.

It doesn’t only save us on travel time and transportation costs, we can also gain access to lifestyle amenities that complement our goal of attaining work-life balance, like a gym or a pool.

The idea of living in a condominium (or a “condo”) became all the more compelling as real estate developers construct condominium buildings in all possible locations closest to where the action is—with banks ready and willing to extend loans to fund the purchase.

In short, condo living for a lot of Filipinos has become an ultimate goal and is now made within easier reach.

But before jumping in and signing that Reservation Agreement, there are a few things to consider in making an intelligent decision of whether or not condo living is right for you:

1. Association dues. Every month, a condo unit owner is obliged to pay for the maintenance and upkeep of all the communal facilities of the condo building. That includes payment of security guard services, electric bills for the lights at the lobby, the hallways and elevators, elevator upkeep and maintenance, gym equipment (if there’s a gym), chlorine for the swimming pool, etc. As long as you remain a unit owner, you cannot avoid this necessary obligation. The amount you pay is usually determined by the area of your unit and the location of your building. Refer always to your contract and the condominium corporation articles of incorporation and by-laws.

2. Communal living. Once you decide to live in a condo, you contend with condo rules and regulations to maintain a harmonious communal living. The condo corp. through the by-laws implement these rules. You cannot just do whatever you please, especially since you have other condo owners to consider.  Therefore, if the by-laws contain a no pets policy, you have no choice but to comply. If you cannot bear to go through life without your beloved Rottweiler beside you, living in a condo may not be for you. Even when you want to resell your unit, if the master deed contains a requirement that the unit be offered first for sale to your other condo unit owners, you cannot just dispose of your unit to the buyer of your choice. These are some of the many effects of condo living.

3. Ownership of interest. Owning a condo unit basically means you own a mere interest over the land the building stands on. You own a space over the building itself. While as a unit buyer, you are issued a Condominium Certificate of Title (CCT), title to the common areas, including the land, is usually held by the condominium corporation specially formed for the purpose, where the unit buyers automatically become members of.  The condo corp, through vote of its members, shall make decisions with regards repair, whether as minor as change of light bulbs in the communal hallway or as major as constructing new fence around the compound.

Metro Manila skyline

4. Building lifespan. There is nothing in the condominium act (Republic Act No. 4726) that expressly provides a specific lifespan for a condominium building. However, the law seems to have implied a lifespan when it provided for a ground for the partition of the land and common areas of the condominium by unit owners:

“Sec. 8. xxx (c) That the project has been in existence in excess of fifty years, that it is obsolete and uneconomic, and that condominium owners holding in aggregate more than fifty percent interest in the common areas are opposed to repair or restoration or remodeling or modernizing of the project; xxx”

Republic Act No. 4726

Either way, be prepared for the natural consequence of living in a building – like all things, these structures are subject to wear and tear, and damage. The condo corp must be proactive in dealing with the possibility of remodeling, reconstruction or restoration of part of the building (if not the entire building) when the time comes.

Ortigas Center at night

After taking in these considerations and still think that a condo is the way to go, by all means go ahead and invest in one.

There are many reputable developers out there who will match your specific needs.

Just make sure to buy only from developers who have a License to Sell that particular condo project you are eyeing on issued by the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB).

If you find that the condo developer does not have any License to Sell from the HLURB, the developer stands to be criminally charged for violating the provisions of PD 957 (Law Regulating the Sale of Subdivision Lots and Condominiums, Providing Penalties for Violations Thereof).

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