What would you say to great amenities, panoramic views, and no lawns to mow? A condominium just might be the answer for you. Condos offer an attractive lifestyle at a great price, especially if you’re looking for an inexpensive starter home or you’ve got an empty nest and are looking to downsize.
Whatever the reason, many people very much enjoy condo living. You often get a pool and fitness center, as well as the opportunity to own a home without having to worry about all the caretaking responsibilities.
Although there are pros and cons of buying a condo, it’s not quite the same process as buying a house. There are important aspects to consider, and it’s important that you go in knowing the right questions to ask.
1. How good is the soundproofing?
Before buying a condo, be sure to check it’s soundproofing. The No. 1 complaint of condo owners is poor soundproofing. Before buying a condo, ask the upstairs, downstairs and adjoining neighbors to turn on their TVs and stereos to their normal levels. Because of this sound problem, top floor and bottom floor condos usually sell for premium prices.
2. How much are the monthly condo fees and what are they used for?
It is important to figure this out beforehand not only so that you can plan your budget, but also to give you a clear indication of what the fees you are paying will cover if there is something wrong with the complex.
3. How do the monthly fees compare with similar nearby condo complexes and what services are included?
Before making a purchase offer, be sure to compare the current monthly condo fees and get a written list of included services. To illustrate, some condo complexes include central heat and/or air conditioning whereas others don’t because each unit has their own heat and air conditioning.
4. Has the condo unit been professionally inspected?
Whether you are buying a new or resale condo, it pays to include a contingency clause in your purchase offer for a professional inspection. If the condo seller already had a recent professional inspection report from a reputable inspector, you might consider accepting it to save the inspection fee of about $350. If you choose to accept the previous inspection report, be sure to verify that it comes from a licensed inspector and ask to speak with them to assure the integrity of the report.
5. What does the insurance cover?
Make sure you get a copy of the condo association’s insurance policy. Find out exactly what is covered, including the cost to bring the building up to code (if it’s an older building). Also make sure the estimates to rebuild are accurate, and not minimized or outdated.
6. What are the rules?
Does this community allow pets? Can you rent out your unit if you need to? Will you have a chance to plant a bed of flowers? Go over the community rules line by line. Make sure the condo doesn’t have rules that you simply can’t live with.
7. Make sure to get all seller promises and representations in writing.
As with any real estate transaction, get all seller or sales agent promises and representations in writing. To illustrate, if the developer’s sales agent promises the adjoining open space will remain that way, or it will be professionally landscaped, get that representation in writing as part of the sales contract, signed by the developer. Or, if the seller promises a decorating or upgrade credit, get that in writing too.
Buying a condo is no small affair. There are many important aspects to consider that you don’t have to worry about with single family homes. This is why it’s important to go into the process knowing what to look for, and what to ask.
Have any of you ever thought about buying a condo? Or, do you already own one? Which questions do you wish you had asked before you bought?