Meeting minutes are an invaluable source of insight into a condominium. To help you determine whether a particular condo is right for you, be sure to get your hands on copies of the latest board and strata meeting minutes.

What can you learn? For starters, you might glean an understanding of the condo's financial footing. Is its reserve fund adequate or is there a shortfall in the budget? Are monthly dues about to increase? Is the board considering levying a special assessment fee on residents in order to pay for a major repair? These issues are sure to be discussed at strata meetings and reflected in the minutes.

Regarding repairs, if there are any renovation plans underway, you'll likely see them mentioned in meeting minutes, which may also shed some light on the following questions: What is the condo's process for hiring contractors? Are residents and management happy with the quality of contractors' work? If not, what steps are being taken to remedy the issue?

In addition, the minutes can reveal whether there's any controversy in the condo. What issues do residents have, if any? For example, are there many complaints about condo rules being broken? What issues do the condo board have, if any? Is delinquency a problem in collecting monthly dues from residents? Also, is the condo involved in a lawsuit? If so, you can bet that will be mentioned.

Keep in mind that while meeting minutes can fill in part of the picture, they can't paint all of it, which is one good reason to speak with a real estate sales representative, who can provide information for the complete picture.