What to Know About Buying a Condo
If you’re in the market to buy a condominium, congratulations! Condos make a wonderful choice for potential homeowners looking to buy property without having to worry about the maintenance and upkeep of a house and yard. Condos are an especially popular choice in high-demand, high property value areas like vacation destinations and costly urban settings because they are usually more affordable than detached homes but, like all good things, condo ownership usually comes with a catch. Before signing on the dotted line, read through the below points to familiarize yourself with the potential pitfalls of owning a condo.
A condominium is usually a large property that is divided and sold as individual units. So compared to a single-family home, owning a condo means you own your unit and a portion of shared common areas, but you do not own the land on which the building is built.
The purchase price of your future home isn’t the only cost you need to consider. You’ll need to factor in the association fees that owners are responsible for, which cover maintenance of common areas and general upkeep of the property. Should there be a major repair needed and the funds to cover it aren’t in the existing fund, you will be asked to contribute additional money to cover the costs. Also, unlike renting an apartment, you will also be subject to the property taxes on the unit.
A well-organized management or orderly association are key to ensuring a positive experience when living in a shared building. Request a copy of meeting minutes or any pertinent documents that relate to the management of the property. Are there any ongoing maintenance issues you should be aware of that you’ll have to pay for down the line? When was the last time the association needed to dip into the reserve fund? How quickly are complaints and requests addressed? Research this information now, before it’s too late.
Though some rules may be obvious and something you address with your realtor before even viewing a property (like whether the building allows dogs), there are some less-obvious restrictions which you may encounter. Maybe you visualize barbecuing on your unit’s large balcony only to find out that grills aren’t allowed, or perhaps you are excited to finally have hardwood floors but discover the building requires 80 percent of the unit to have rugs or carpet for noise reduction. Look closely now so you aren’t disappointed later.
Since the unit you have your eye on could be in a building with hundreds of identical properties, if you are looking to sell at the same time as several of your neighbors, it could be more difficult for you to secure a buyer. Additionally, if you are no longer planning on living in the unit but may want to rent it out in the future, consult the building’s guidelines again. Some properties place limits on the percentage of units that can be rented at one time, and if too many other owners are renting out their spaces, you may be out of luck.
Sheer proximity to your neighbors makes living in a shared building more social than you might experience if you were in a house where your neighbors are a yard or so away. Common areas like a gym or pool, lobby, hallways, elevator, or garage make running into other residents inevitable. You also may have a front-row seat to your neighbor's raucous weekend parties or their affinity for loud action flicks thanks to shared walls, ceilings, and floors.
Interested in learning more? Visit the below resources for additional information on buying and living in a condominium.
5 Things to Consider Before Buying a Condo — Realtor.com
3 Reasons to Buy a Condo and 3 Reasons to Beware — U.S. News & World Report
5 Things for Condo Buyers to Learn Before Buying a Property — Kiplinger
What Millennials and Boomers Need to Know About Condos — Zillow
Do you live in a condo? What advice would you give to other potential buyers? Share in the comments!