A blog cannot deal with all aspects of a subject and is not intended to replace professional advice. It's purpose is to highlight information and identify areas of possible interest. Anyone wishing to discuss this blog or to make any comments or suggestions about this blog is invited to do so by either posting comments or emailing me directly.


Condo Buyers: "Registered Size" versus "Living Area"

Like any real estate agent, I can help you buy or sell any kind of real estate, but one of my favourite kinds of home is a condominium. Condominiums come in all kinds of different shapes and sizes. Often, people from other areas view condominiums as "apartments for sale." In actual fact, condominiums are all sorts of different building styles and not just apartments. Condominiums could be townhouses, or even detached homes. Condominium is a term for an ownership style and not a building style.
As a real estate agent working with buyers or sellers for the purchase or sale of condominium properties, it's quite complicated and it is one of the reasons that less than 20% of the real estate agents within the Calgary Real Estate Board have been able to achieve the CCS certification (Certified Condominium Specialist). While it's not required to have, this certification is something that astute buyers and sellers should be looking for in their real estate agent's credentials when they're considering this type of property to buy or sell. This subset of the real estate business is significantly different and is so much so that we now require different sales and listing contracts on a provincial basis. Even the standard measurements in Alberta's Condominium Act has changed throughout the years.
For buyers and sellers of condominiums, one of the key things to understand is the difference between the "registered size" of a condominium and its "livable space." The registered size is a legal description of the size of the condominium unit as registered with Alberta Land Titles and can be verified from the Registered Condominium Plan. It is often measured "as built" and certified by an engineer. This size will include the living space, but may also include such things as: parking stalls, separate storage spaces, wall thicknesses, basements, other below grade areas, balconies or patios, and even parking stalls garages or even the yard.
Total Living Area: is a definition used to define only the developed living space that has its floor at or above grade, has a foundation and has heat and electricity. For condominiums, our board has further defined living area as only the interior space and cannot include any portion of the exterior walls. So the definition excludes common walls between units, nor balconies or patios. As a guideline, it is from paint to paint.
I have worked with clients to show them both new condominiums and condominiums on the resale market. Occasionally, we have found that a property is marketed incorrectly and it just doesn't feel as large as it's being marketed. Upon reviewing the documents or asking the salesperson, we have found that a balcony or terrace has been included as "living space" since it is exclusive use property, but is legally the property of the condominium corporation (know as common property). It's because of these issues that our real estate board has given specific rules for measuring condominiums, and why our provincial real estate association has developed contracts different from other property contracts.
So when you are comparing condominiums (to buy or sell), not only compare whether or not the parking or storage space is included in the selling price, but also compare how the space is being measured. Have they included the balcony, sunroom, deck, wall thickness or basement area in the square footage? Condominium properties are a complicated specialty area of the real estate business and you deserve to know what you are (or are not) getting for your money.
If you are considering buying or selling a condominium property, I'd be happy to talk to you.


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