Owning a condominium is a dream for many, and with benefits such as unparalleled views or the location of your dream, it’s easy to see why condo ownership is sought-after. However, when shopping for a condo its important to remember that condos are slightly different than single family homes or townhomes. Here are five guidelines to keep in mind when looking to purchase a condo.
- Know the rules
Each condo association has their own set of rules and regulations. Some rules are obvious, such as assigned parking spaces, but some rules are going to be more specific to the particular condo. Before you fall head over heels for a condo and are ready to commit, make sure your Realtor gets you a copy of the condo docs for you and spend the time to read through them to make sure none of the rules and regulations are deal breakers for you. If you have a pet, make sure you have the pet policy in writing and that your pet doesn’t violate any size restrictions.
- Hire the right Realtor
Hiring a Realtor who has experience with condos is critical. Condos are not like single family homes, and they aren’t like apartments either. Condos are a unique hybrid and in many ways they offer the best of both worlds, but with that comes a unique set of issues to address before anything is finalized. The right Realtor will guide you through the process and know what questions to ask so that six months in you aren’t blindsided with a huge assessment.
Usually condos feature unmatched views or the best location in town, but with those luxuries you might have to sacrifice some privacy. If you are seeking complete privacy, a single family home is the way to go. With a condo, you are going to be sharing the common outdoor space, but you likely also be close enough to hear your neighbors music or conversation when they are on their balcony just a few feet from you. On the flip side, having your neighbors so close creates a strong community bond and can even act as a built-in social network. Some condos do offer more privacy than others, so make sure to look at several condos to get a good feel of what level of privacy you can live with.
- Condo Dues
Condos are located in a shared building, so in order to properly maintain the building and the outdoor space each owner needs to chip in. While paying an extra monthly fee on top of your mortgage might make you grimace, remember at the end of the day that making sure the building is well maintained is in your best interest as a condo owner- if your condo is located in a building that’s falling apart, you can bet your condo value plummets. Also, think about expenses that come with owning a single family home- utilities, heat, water… these are often the expenses that are rolled up into condo fees, in addition to things like building maintenance and insurance.
- Condo Assessments
Condo assessments are a large fee that can be placed upon owners when there is a significant repair for the building is needed and the reserves are underfunded. Condo assessments are always planned, so when buying a condo make sure talk to the homeowners association and find out if there is an assessment coming up. Just remember that like homeownership, unexpected expenses are bound to happen. That could mean everything from paying an unexpected assessment to repair hurricane damage to the building or a planned assessment to replace the building roof – at the end of the day, do yourself a favor and set aside a couple thousand in the event the unexpected happens. If that’s just not practical, The Wall Street Journal recommends looking into a loss-assessment rider in your insurance policy to cover a small portion of the increase in premiums.
Sarah & Tim
Florida Life Real Estate Group