Do your research beforehand.
That is one of the biggest takeaways for people interested in purchasing into a strata, whether it be apartment style, a town home or even a business said Vancouver Island Strata Owners Association president Sandy Wagner.
“When you own your own home it is completely different than a strata, you need to know it is community living and some are not right for that,” she said.
The VISOA president of eight years sees healthy growth in strata complexes in the West Shore.
She said the homeowners choosing strata life aren’t just seniors downsizing but new homeowners getting into the market for the first time, travellers who only spend part of the year on the Island and some that just don’t like to have to worry about working outside.
“It is almost that carefree living, it is not (quite) like realtors say but in some cases it can be, because you don’t have to personally clean the snow and clean the gutter,” she said. “But… They pay to have someone else to do it.”
There are differences, she said, not only between standalone homes and stratas, but between different stratas in different areas having different rules and bylaws. She warned while some people are well researched on individual differences, she said just as many don’t know what they are getting into.
Wagner said pet owners should know exactly what the rules are and not find out later they may not be able to bring their dog or have their grandchildren stay with them for the summer. There are other considerations as well.
“One common misconception is that low strata is a good thing and that is not necessarily true,” she said. “They are lovely everyone loves them but the size of reserve funds is important if your strata is low and your reserve fund is low you can look at levies down the line.”
Despite differences, Wagner herself has lived in an apartment-style strata for more than 20 years and said if the lifestyle you enjoy can be enjoyed with others in a community, the choice can be a satisfying one like it has been for her.
“Strata living can be a fabulous way of life you just need to know what you are getting into and be ready and willing to participate,” she said. “Once you understand what is happening it can be simple to navigate and a fulfilling way to live.”
Anyone with questions about living in a strata can e-mail Sandy Wagner at email@example.com or visit their website at visoa.bc.ca
Q: How much of the West Shore’s housing is in strata properties?
Strata properties have been a popular choice in the West Shore for years and the numbers of homeowners choosing strata are continuing to climb.
In 2010, Colwood’s strata units accounted for 27 per cent of municipal housing rising 1.5 percent in three years to 28.5 per cent in 2013 for a total increase of 180 units.
Over the same period, Langford rose 0.6 per cent from 42 to 42.6 per cent of all taxable properties for a total of 560 more units.
View Royal rose from 39.6 per cent to 42.3 per cent for a total 260 more units also over the same time period.
As a comparison, the City of Victoria has more than 50 per cent of their housing as strata and Wagner said 29.1 per cent of B.C.’s housing is strata and the numbers are continuing to grow not only across the West Shore and the Vancouver Island, but also across the province.
GREATER VICTORIA MARKET UPDATE »MONTH TO DATE Oct. 26/15 COURTESY VICTORIA REAL ESTATE BOARD
» 567 / 602 — NET UNCONDITIONAL SALES / TOTAL, SEPTEMBER 2014
» 766 / 945 — NEW LISTINGS / TOTAL, SEPTEMBER 2014
» 3,247 / 3,927 — ACTIVE RESIDENTIAL LISTINGS / TOTAL, SEPTEMBER 2014