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January 05, 2006

Condo Living TV - Issue 49

A wheel concern for condo buyers

Shelley Williamson

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While most condominiums now on the market offer some type of space for cherished vehicles for residents and guests, the experts say it is smart to find out exactly what you're getting before parking car concerns at the door of your new digs.

Many townhomes and apartment-style condos offer space for cars, whether in the form of a garage, outside lot, or underground heated stalls, but just what's included with suites may not actually include ownership, warn the experts.

“There are three types of parking generally in a condominium - leased, assigned or titled - and what you get depends on the condo plan,” says Luba Fillipoff, condo support coordinator for the Calgary Real Estate Board (CREB).

A titled parking space means an owner's name is listed on the title. Just as it is with a condo unit, purchasers own it outright to do with as they wish, as long it fits into the rules of the complex as defined by the plan or bylaws.

Leased parking stalls are leased to you, like a vehicle or office space, for a period ranging from one to 99 years - and come with paperwork saying you have exclusive use for the time you are in the unit.

The final type of parking - assigned - offers condo residents virtually no say over how

long the stall is theirs to use. “It really is at the discretion of the board. You may be bumped because the board has decided to use it for something else, such as a handicapped space, and they can relocate you to somewhere else,” says Fillipoff.

While most condominiums now offer at least one titled stall, Fillipoff advises would-be buyers to ask up front which type of use or ownership is included where parking is concerned.

And just because a parking stall belongs to a resident doesn't mean he or she is free to store barbecues, extra dining room chairs or a leaky “fixer-upper” vehicle to work on as a hobby.

“You can't put propane tanks or storage into parking, you still have to go by the rules even though it's your spot - there are restrictions stated in the bylaws,” says Fillipoff.

Melody Tada was renting a home with a double garage prior to buying her condominium, so parking became a key issue when the mom of two small children went house hunting.

“If we couldn't get a garage, underground parking was a must-have with how cold it gets in the winter,” says Tada, who settled on an apartment-style condominium with one under-ground heated stall, chosen for the brightness of the floorplan thanks to the absence of

an attached garage.

“We saw some townhomes, but I found they were dark and the garages ate up square footage, and having a bright floorplan we liked was also important,” says Tada, adding her main-floor suite allows her to park their second vehicle outside in plain sight.

In addition to having a secure and often heated space to park - a welcome feature when the mercury dips to icy levels - titled stalls also allow title-holders the option of selling to other residents of their building.

“People can definitely see there is value in heated parking, not having to shovel, which is why people live in condominiums - they can sell for as much as $5,000 to $15, 000,” says Fillipoff.

Developers, especially those bringing upscale apartment-style highrises to the city's busy downtown, where space is at a premium, are also appreciating the value in including parking with units.

The Montana, a 189-suite luxury tower with upper “estate” digs expected to fetch over the $1-million mark, will not only include at least one secure, heated underground parking spot for every suite, but 29 stalls are also available for guests to park prized rides.

“We know people in Calgary pride themselves on their cars, and because we are a luxury condominium, we wanted to include as much parking as possible,” says Robert Moroto, marketing manager for Procura Real Estate Services, The Montana's developer.
Pricier suites will boast two parking spots with ownership, while a handful will be up for grabs for residents to buy.

“In the market we're targeting, people will have cars - and nice cars at that - so they want secure parking,” says Moroto, adding keyless garage-door openers will even allow residents to park without ever having to roll down a window.  CL

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