Tips to Help you Buy a Condo

Tips to Help you Buy a Condo
by Tamara Rein - July 8, 2021,

Buying a condo can be the perfect way to live in affordability and style, without getting into the hassle of single-family home-ownership. Condos are usually less expensive and usually offer amenities that you won't get at home, like a pool or gym membership for an extra fee.

Buying your first condo, you’ll need to understand all the factors that matter when checking out the best suitable one for you. 

So we have consulted real-estate experts for the best tips on buying condos that can help you make the right choice.

Talk to the Manager about Neighbors and Management

“You’ll want to interview the condo manager (i.e., the one who’s there full-time) personally. Also, talk to your neighbors about management. A lousy manager can make condo living a grueling experience.  Some condos manage themselves. That is, there are no property managers, and the residents meet to make decisions together. The good side to this is that it often means monthly fees are much lower than professionally managed communities. Although self-management works in some cases, think carefully before moving into a community like this.” advises Rick Andrews, Owner of a Real Estate Blog. He also suggests asking some questions to help yourself figure out what you require in a condo.

Ask Yourself These Questions

  • “You have to live next door to all of these people- do you really want to manage a community with them too? 
  • Is there storage space available? Some condos offer residents personal storage space. Your condo will likely not have an attic or garage (unless you’re in a townhouse), so ask if you’ll be provided any extra space to store bikes, winter skis, and luggage.

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 Also, make sure the estimates to rebuild are accurate and not minimized or outdated. If the policy is confusing, it might be worthwhile to bring a copy to your own insurance agent so you can go over it together. It’s also important to check if their policy will cover your personal belongings if the roof leaks or the building catches fire. If it doesn’t, you’ll want to consider taking out a policy on your own (which will be yet another monthly expense).”

Rick Andrews, Owner and Certified Listing Specialist Century 21 Black Bear Realty

Review The ByLaws

“One of the first things a home buyer looking to purchase a condo should review are the bylaws. Most condo complexes have an association in place that charges a monthly fee to cover certain things like snow removal, landscaping and bylaw enforcement. If a home buyer overlooks the bylaws and then realizes after they close that they don't like something about them, it can be too late. The type of financing should also be considered when purchasing a condo. A home buyer who is preapproved for an FHA or VA mortgage should know that many condo associations do not accept these types of mortgages on a purchase. A home buyer that has an interest in a specific complex should have their lender run a search to see if the association is on the list for accepting those mortgages.”

Jason Gelios, Realtor and Author, Community Choice Realty

Think About the Must-Haves and Deal-Breakers

Talia McKinney advises asking yourself what you are looking for in a condo, “When looking for a condo, you should think about what your must-haves and deal-breakers are. Are there certain amenities you want, elevator, outdoor space, washer/ dryer in unit, doorman, etc.? Will you consider a walk-up? Would you live on the first floor? Would you want to live on the top floor?”

Check for Red Flags

“Be sure to check the unit and building for any red flags. How long has the property been on the market, is there a lot on the market in the building? If something has been on the market a long time or there are many units for sale, these are red flags. Be sure to check the proximity to the subway station or a parking garage. Are there hidden fees you need to pay for, such as maintenance, the gym or pool? Are pets allowed? Are there rules for renting it out in case you want to sublet it? Do you need to put a certain percentage down? Some buildings will only allow a certain percent of financing.” says Talia McKinney.

Look up News About the Neighborhood

“Be sure to look up any news about the neighborhood and building. Is there a building being developed that could block your view? Take a walk around the neighborhood in the morning, evening and night. On the weekdays and weekends to hear the noise and check out the neighbors and get the feel of the area.”

Talia McKinney is a Licensed RE Salesperson.

Consider the Advantages and Disadvantages of Condo Lifestyle 

“Prior you even looking at condo unit homes, you should do some introspection. Condo living has a number of disadvantages. For instance, would it be OK if you lived directly across the street from your neighbors? Condominiums provide less privacy than other types of residential property, thus this must be considered. Additionally, examine the lifestyle to which you will be required to adjust. A condominium apartment has less storage space. That is why it is important to consider whether you will be living alone or with family. The size of the condo unit should be proportional to the number of inhabitants. This will guarantee that your things have sufficient space and that all occupants are comfortable. After determining what you need from your property, you may move on to other critical factors.”

Richard Mews, CEO Sell With Richard

Find a Good Real Estate Agent with Experience In Condos

“If you've decided to buy a condo, you'll want to find a real estate agent who will look out for your best interests. You should look for someone who has experience with condos so that they can address any concerns you may have and guide you through important steps such as reviewing the condo association documents. Your agent should be familiar with the condo developments in your area and any potential issues. Community finance issues and structure or infrastructure problems within the community's building or buildings are examples of things that could negatively impact your life in a condo. A good agent will be able to tell you if there has been any community strife, as well as which developments have performed well in terms of resale value.”

Martin Boonzaayer, CEO of The Trusted Home Buyer

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