As of 2021, the homeownership rate in the United States is over 65%. Among these homeowners are people who own single-family homes, townhouses, and condos.
Each type of home comes with its own unique set of pros and cons, as well as considerations that must be made before purchase. Becoming a condo owner comes with many rewards and benefits, but it’s important to determine whether it’s the right choice for you.
Read on to learn what to look for and what questions to ask before signing the paperwork on your new home.
1. Look Into the Building’s Management
With condos, there are two types of management structures: self-managed and professionally managed. This is one of the most important factors to consider when you’re interested in buying a condo.
Professionally managed buildings are managed by a company or property manager. Interview the full-time manager of the building yourself to get an idea of who they are as a person and what you can expect.
It’s a good idea to ask those already living in the building about the management as well. Are they satisfied? Do they have any major complaints in regards to the management of the building?
Self-managed buildings, on the other hand, are entirely in the hands of the residents, there are no property managers. This means that residents meet on a regular basis to make decisions about the building together.
The fees to live in self-managed buildings are often lower than the alternative. Keep in mind, however, that you’ll not only live next to your neighbors but you’ll be business partners and co-managers of your home.
This type of building can work, but it does come with risks. Exercise caution and think carefully before buying a unit in a self-managed community.
2. Know the Ins and Outs of Your HOA Fees
As with most single-family homes, your condo will require payment of HOA fees every month. These fees cover the cost to maintain and manage the community, which is why they’re lower in self-managed buildings. They also vary depending on the number of units and the condo amenities offered in your community.
Ask for a breakdown of the dues you’ll be required to pay per month and ensure that you can afford to pay them. Your mortgage payment might only be $800, but if the HOA fees are $400 per month, you’re looking at a very different figure in total.
Part of the HOA fees are supposed to be set aside for major repairs, look at the repair fund and what it covers.
Think twice before moving into a community that promises low dues. This could mean that they aren’t putting aside the required money for repairs, meaning you and your neighbors are responsible for paying for roof repairs and other large fixes.
3. Ask About the Rules
One of the major drawbacks of condo living is that there are often more rules than there would be in a neighborhood of single-family homes. The community should have a list of guidelines, but it’s a good idea to have a few questions prepared when you meet with the manager.
For example, does the community allow pets and, if so, are there any pet restrictions? Are you allowed to rent out your unit? What are the quiet hours? Are there any restrictions regarding patio furniture?
There’s going to be a set of rules regardless of the community you choose, you just need to be sure that they fit you and your lifestyle.
4. Learn About the Building Itself
There are many factors regarding the building itself that can affect your happiness in your new home. For example, are there storage units available? If so, how much extra is it per month to rent one? Where it is located? What can you do with it?
Next, look into the age of the property. Even if you get a home inspection for condos before purchase (and you should), unforeseen issues can arise. And more expensive issues such as roof leaks and cracked driveways are more likely in older buildings.
Find out what the building is made from as well. This might seem irrelevant, but it can have a huge impact on your condo experience.
A building made from wood might meet the minimum standards for sound but you’ll still be able to hear everything going on in your neighbors’ units and vice versa. Steel and concrete buildings are much more effective in terms of soundproofing, giving you a more peaceful living experience.
5. Get a List of Amenities Offered
As we mentioned earlier, your HOA fees can be higher or lower depending on the amenities offered. Get a list of what these amenities are to determine whether or not the price matches the perks.
Standard amenities include a pool, fitness center, and tennis courts. These aren’t guaranteed at every condo community, but they are the most common.
Then there are luxury amenities such as community workspaces, outdoor kitchens, lounges, even wine tasting rooms. Newer developments typically include more high-end amenities than older communities, as the demand for such features has risen over the years.
Is Becoming a Condo Owner Right for You?
As with any housing choice, becoming a condo owner isn’t for everyone. And because buying property is such a huge decision, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons before making your choice.
That said, owning a condo is the perfect solution for those looking for the rewards of being a property owner without the hassle of maintenance such as yard work and roof repairs. Looking for more tips and tricks for choosing the perfect home for you? Be sure to check out our blog!