Buying a townhouse

It’s happening. You’ve finally zeroed in on the townhouse of your dreams. From the extra high ceilings and gas fireplace to the stainless steel appliances and cute first-floor powder room, everything is just perfect. So what’s left?

Buying a townhouse is a lot like purchasing any other home, although there are some specific questions you’ll want to ask,” says Vancouver Townhouse realtor Ariane Benjamin. “These aren’t just random questions, but information that will help you gauge the property’s true value and offer a price that’s fair to you—and the homeowner.”

1) What is the sales history?

What did the current owner pay for their home? What’s the going price for comparable units in the complex? If you’re lucky, a good townhouse realtor will have this information on hand. If not, you can probably reference MLS history for relevant information.

2) What renovations/improvements have the current owners made?

Understanding what’s been put into the property will help you assess what the owner hopes to get out of it—and if the price they’re asking for is fair.

3) What is the contingency fund?

Strata properties collect maintenance fees from owners for upkeep and emergencies. If the fund is thin, owners may be expected to cough up if anything goes wrong.

4) What are the monthly costs?

Do the yearly expenses fall within your household budget? Remember to factor in costs for gas, power, utilities, and taxes—as well as monthly maintenance.

5) What’s the building’s repair history?

This might seem nitpicky. Naturally, every building is going to have a few issues as it ages and settles. However, issues like a leaky roof or pipes can be a red flag, particularly if the building is old. Make sure to ask about the age of the roof and to hire a good inspector to do a through inspection inside the unit.

6) What’s included with the maintenance fees?

High maintenance fees can initially be shocking, so it’s important to know what they cover. If you’re getting hot water, garbage disposal, gas, and access to exercise facilities and/or a swimming pool, it might actually turn out to be a good deal.

7) What warranties are still applicable?

Is the washer rattling? Does the garburator sound like it’s on its last legs? If so, you’ll want to factor costs for replacement into your offer. Keep in mind that most original appliances will only be under warrantee for a few of years after the complex is built.

8) Have there been any pests or infestations?

Has the complex ever been fumigated for ants, termites, wasps, moths—or any other pests? A house may not always be pest-free, but it’s best to know so you can be prepared.

9) What are the parking restrictions?

Parking can be expensive, particularly if you’re living downtown. Ask how many spots come with the property—and make sure to request a viewing. In some cases, individual spots can be quite small and may be unable to accommodate larger vehicles.

10) Are there storage facilities?

Space is a valuable asset in a townhouse. In many cases, complexes will include individual lockers—and sometimes a bicycle area. Make sure you know what you’re getting. It might be worth shelling out a few extra dollars for more space—or you may have some extra negotiating power if there isn’t any!

Every townhouse complex is original,” says Ariane, “and the price you offer will depend on a number of factors—both inside and outside the home. At, we’ve built up our business by focusing on exclusively townhouses. We have 15 years of experience understanding the market, which allows us to advise on the best rates when buying—or selling!