Buying a condominium is very different than buying a residence, so it’s important to understand all the factors that are involved. It can be complicated, so rest assured that I will walk you step-by-step through the details so you can make the best possible decision. Here are a few of the most common questions clients ask me.
How do I know if buying a condo is right for me?
Buying a condo is a lifestyle choice, and it’s not for everyone. If you love a big garden, it probably won’t work for you. If you really value convenience and security, condo living may be ideal. You don’t need to worry about painting your home or keeping up the yard – all that is taken care of for you. If you travel a lot, the ability to “lock and go” makes life much simpler. And since condos are usually located close to restaurants and shopping, you can usually find plenty to do within walking distance.
Can I have a pet?
Most condos allow pets. I can help you find a condo that allows pet ownership in its regulations.
When I buy I condo, what do I actually own?
You own your own unit within the larger building. You also jointly own the exterior property and common areas – such as laundry rooms, halls, walkways and lawns – with all the other owners in the building. Each building is a little different in defining who is responsible for things pertaining to your unit. I will obtain a copy of the CC&R's, (Codes, Covenants and Restrictions) for any building you are interested in and go over it with you in detail so you know exactly what to expect.
How does the homeowner’s association work?
The homeowner’s association (HOA) is made up of all the owners in the building. Every condo owner has a say in the operations of the property. The owners elect a board of directors who are responsible for maintaining the common elements of the property. They have the authority to collect money from owners to maintain the common areas and make sure the property is financially stable.
How much will the monthly condo fee be?
In addition to the monthly mortgage payment, condo owners also pay monthly dues. The fees are used to pay for expenses such as standard maintenance of common areas, property and liability insurance for the building's exterior and common areas, and management fees. The fee sometimes covers utilities. It is important to understand what is and is not included in the fees. I will help you determine exactly what your fees will cover and which expenses are your responsibility.
The fees are usually based on the square footage of the unit, however they can vary significantly based on the size of the building and its amenities. For example, a high-rise with a swimming pool and fitness center will have higher maintenance costs, so higher fees. Your lender will factor in your monthly condo fee when they are evaluating your mortgage application.
What is a special assessment?
A portion of the monthly dues are put into a reserve account to pay for non-routine expenses. If a large unexpected repair is necessary, and there are not enough funds in reserve to cover the cost, the association may levy a one-time assessment to pay for the repair. When I work with buyers, I carefully look over several years of the association’s records to see how much is in reserve, whether the dues accurately reflect the maintenance needs of the building and whether there are any major potential assessments on the horizon. I also look at recent association meeting minutes to see if there are any red flags. I want to make sure that there are no surprises for you.
Can I rent my unit?
This varies widely by building. Generally associations put a cap on the number of units that can be rented. If you are interested in purchasing a condo as a rental property, I can provide you with listings in buildings with terms and conditions that are favorable.
Do you have other questions? I’m happy to answer them. You can reach me at 206-947-1412.