Condominium Buying Advice

Buying a condominium can be an affordable entry to home ownership for young professionals, and it can also provide a luxury maintenance-free lifestyle for high-income individuals. Condominium buying can be a complex topic, though; there are many factors that you should take into consideration when you're shopping for condominiums.

The best condominium buying advice is to read the condominium documents.
When a condominium association is established, the association must file condominium documents containing important information about how the association handles different situations. When you're thinking about condominium buying, consider how the association handles repairs to common areas, utilities, condo fees, pets and dispute resolution. If the condominium doesn't have procedures in place to deal with these events, you could find yourself in an argument about important repairs or condo fees. Make sure these areas are clearly spelled out to avoid problems down the road, and if you have pets, pay close attention to pet provisions.

When you're considering condominium buying, read meeting minutes and budgets.
You can get a good idea of how your condominium association runs by reviewing old meeting minutes. When you're considering condominium buying, ask to review at least two years of condominium association meeting minutes. Look for any recent building improvements or plans for future building improvements. Check for special fee levies and condominium reserves. Is the condominium ready to address potential emergencies? Are there big improvement projects in the future that are going to cost you money?

Meet your neighbors when you're considering condominium buying.
When you're buying a condominium, you're locked into living with your neighbors for the duration of your mortgage or until you can find a buyer. Therefore, it's vitally important for you to meet your neighbors and determine whether you want to live in the condominium. Is it mostly owner-occupied, or do many owners rent their condominiums out? If you live in a heavily owner-occupied building, you'll see a lot more accountability than if the building is full of renters. If your condominium is adjacent to renters, you could have wonderful renters as neighbors when you move in, only to be replaced with kids who frequently throw loud parties just a year down the road. Take this into account when you're considering condominium buying.

Condominium buying means a virtually maintenance-free lifestyle.
When you buy a condominium, you're really only responsible for maintaining the inside of your unit. Exterior building maintenance, common areas, plumbing and electrical problems and large building repairs are all the responsibility of the condominium association. Exterior building maintenance includes snow removal, landscaping and painting. When you're considering condominium buying, make sure you know how the condominium handles building maintenance. Do they contract for prompt snow removal, or are you stuck with thigh-high snow drifts until someone gets around to calling a snow plow? Is there a dedicated maintenance committee or management company, or is it a small condominium association with poor accountability? Check these things before buying a condo.

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