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A Buyers Guide for The Perfect Condo

Buying a condo is a great idea for lots of reasons. First, you don’t really have to worry about fixing and repairing major structures like roofs, foundations etc. As you would as a conventional home owner. Condos are often less expensive than a similar size home and are usually easier to get financing for them.

Buying a condominium might be the perfect option for your lifestyle, but before you go ahead and buy one, here are a few things that you need to be aware of, and some tips to help you make the perfect choice.

Neighborhoods.  

Everyone obviously wants to live in a clean, pleasant neighborhood. It is a good idea to check the details of the neighborhood that you are moving into. If you are unfamiliar with the area; do a google search of the area and then do a little reading about it. Read and research the things you might like to have near you. How far away is the nearest gym, or grocery store, or coffee shop?

Make a list of the places you go every single week in your current routine. These places are the ones that you will want close to your new condo because they are a part of your daily life. After making your list, see how close the substitutes for these places are within the condo you are looking to buy. For example, if you go once a week to a gym that has an indoor pool, search google for a gym that has an indoor pool near your new condo’s location. After that, you can use google to find the walking, driving or bus approximation times, for traveling to these places from the condos location.

This kind of quick research will save allot of frustration and time in the long run by ensuring your most important places are close by; so you won’t have to sacrifice your lifestyle with your new condo purchase.

You might also want to go beyond this search “if you are really interested in buying the condo” and visit the neighborhood during different times of the day, night, week, etc.. This will give you a feel of how nice, or ugly the neighborhood is. The last thing you want to happen is to move into a beautiful new condo; only to find out the neighborhood is declining and making a turn for the worse. The other reason you should do neighborhood research, “beyond your personal safety and wellbeing”, is to ensure that your condo will not depreciate because of a changing neighborhood. Areas that have rising crime rates will only depreciate the value of your condo and will leave you with a loss on your investment.

Fees.

The possible fees for trash pickup, parking, gym, pool, etc. For the condo are not public knowledge, meaning that the fees are not listed on common real estate sites that you can research from google. You will not always be able to find out everything about the fees on your own research. Because of this, it will be a very good idea to find a buyer’s agent who is familiar with the area to help you with this. There’s always a possibility that the condo association will not clue you in on all the fees and you will get stuck with unexpected expenses after purchasing the condo. A good buyer’s agent, who knows the area, will be able to find out all the expenses associated with the place before you buy it. This will save you money and allot of stress.

Taxes.

This is an obvious one, but sometimes the property taxes are included in the fees for the condo and sometime they are not. Ask your buyer’s agent where and when the taxes for the condo will be charged.

The Condo Association.

As you may already know, the condo association is in charge of maintaining the condominium complex. Most of these associations are very well run; but some of them can have you paying more when something breaks down. One of the things to discuss with your buyer’s agent will be, “how much money does the Condo Association have in reserves to pay for repairs?” If the Association does not have alot of money in reserves, and an unexpected expense appears, like new siding for the building. You may be paying more in an assessment fee to cover the repairs. You must be careful of associations who do things like this and stay clear of them.

The other question you will need to ask your buyer’s agent will be, “how many lawsuits, pending and past has the association been dealt with”.  If n association has numerous lawsuits against it, or pending, this is an obvious red flag for you to stay away from them.

Condo Association Bylaws.

Bylaws for condos are just like rules for tenants in an apartment. You will want a full list of the rules or “covenants” associated with the condominium before you buy it. Most of these rules are obvious and self-explanatory, but some become quite ridiculous and annoying. Some examples include, only certain breeds of dogs may be allowed in the condo. Not being allowed to park your car in the street, so your plans to make the garage a storage area go out the window. Only being able to have a certain color door. And the list goes on. You should be able to ask your buyer’s agent about all of the rules associated with the place and discuss what you plan on doing to it once you move in. So, the agent will be able to explain what is possible and what is not.

 Amenities 

Amenities are those things in a condo that all the residents share. Gym’s, basketball court, tennis court, pools etc. At first glance it is easy to get sucked into thinking that having all of these things on your property will be the greatest thing in the world, and for many people it is the greatest thing in the world; but it will add a higher fee to your condo payments. It’s a really good idea to weigh out which amenities you really need and will actually use and which ones just look cool. If you’re currently hitting the gym once or three times a week; maybe having a gym a few feet from your doorstep will be the greatest amenity you could ever have. On the other hand, if you’re like most people, “who use the treadmill as a clothes rack, instead of an exercise machine” a gym might not be good amenity to prioritize for your buying criteria, even though its appealing.

Deciding which amenities, you really want and which ones just look cool is an important step in the condo buying process. You really have to know yourself and be honest with yourself about your habits and the lifestyle you live. When you do this, you will be able to make the decision that best fits your wallet, lifestyle and one that you won’t regret 3 months after moving in.

Tips.

  • Some condos are located next to, or across from an elevator entrance. Unless you want to be woken up at all hours of the night by people coming and going, avoid these locations like the plague.
  • Use a realtor who has experience with condominiums. Not all realtors are created equal! Condos are different than houses and its important you have a realtor working for your who understands this. Realtors who have experience buying/selling condos know the market and the fine print. This knowledge will be invaluable to you through your buying process.
  • As mentioned before amenities can add fees but there is an exception to this rule of thumb. If you are moving into a condo that has a large community, the amenities fees are often lower because so many people live there and the fees are spread out evenly.

Buying a condo can be a big commitment, so put plenty of thought into it and sleep on your plans before making them final. The last thing you want is to get stuck in a 30-year commitment for a condo purchase and end up hating your new home.

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