Don't Make These Mistakes When Looking for a Condo

Condominium buying is a little bit different than buying a single-family home. You obviously have shared space with other condo owners or renters and you usually have to fall within certain guidelines, bylaws, and rules, so your little bit more restricted, but, on the other hand, you have a lot less maintenance than a single-family house. You won't have to worry about the roof or the siding, landscaping or maintaining amenities, but there's always a trade-off. Most condominiums will have amenities and special assessments as well as homeowner association fees and dues you'll need to pay for. When looking for a condo keep these items in mine and avoid the mistakes by understanding all of the rules ahead of time.

#1. Check out the location, not just the unit.

Some condominiums look great on paper or on the online listing, but when you actually get there you realize this is the best-looking building in the neighborhood. Everything else needs a lot of TLC. Do you want to live next to broken down buildings that need a lot of repairs? This could bring down your property values. On the other hand, do a little bit of research on future development. If you know that this is an up-and-coming neighborhood, this building could be just the start to a new and vitalize community. Within 10 years, your property values could skyrocket.

#2. Understand all the fees involved.

Buying a house is different than buying a condo. There are extra taxes, fees, application costs, homeowner association dues, and potentially many other costs not associated with a single-family house. Talk to your lender about all fees involved. A $2000 mortgage could easily be $3000 once you add in all the additional fees, insurance, and taxes.

#3. Do the amenities fit your lifestyle?

Are you paying $1000 a month for amenities you'll never use? This could be worth it if everything else makes sense. Do you love the view, the unit, the location? These things may overpower the extra fees it takes to maintain the amenities but weigh the costs. If the amenities provide things you'll use all of the time, those extra fees and costs may be well worth it to you. However, if you're paying for a dog park services, car washing amenities, and things you'll never use, you might want to search for a unit that better fits your lifestyle.

#4. Do the rules and regulations work for you?

All buildings have what's called CC & R's or covenants, conditions, and restrictions. These bylaws regulate the rules that all condo owners and tenants must abide by. If there's something in these rules you don't agree with, you can either talk to the Association about it or choose a different unit. You'll get a copy of these before finalizing the transaction, so make sure you read through them or have a real estate attorney do so for you.

Related: Who should attend your condo inspection?

#5. Understand who lives there.

This is in no way to be discriminatory against anyone but, if you are retired and you're looking for a quieter building, a development with a lot of millennial's are college-age students may not work for your lifestyle. On the flipside, if you're looking for a high activity building, you probably are not looking for an adult only, 55 and over property either. Find a building that works for your lifestyle with folks of similar habits and behaviors.

These are just some basics that everyone looking for a condo should know. You don't want to choose the wrong property only to be stuck with it for several years before you can afford to sell it. Doing your research and homework ahead of time will help you choose the right condo in the right building for your needs, daily lifestyle, and budget.

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