Are you interested in buying a condo to avoid the maintenance of a single family home OR because the prices are so much better?  Condos are a great option but also  a very unique animal and if you go in thinking of them as a single family home you are going to be in for a surprise!

How to Read a Floor Plan/Blueprint

If you are purchasing in a new development and choosing from a floor plan, make sure you find out where in the complex the unit is located.  Will you be looking at the parking lot, surrounding nature, the pool or a dumpster? You may want to keep an eye on your car but do you want to see the comings and goings of everyone in the complex? Is the pool filled with screaming kids on a regular basis? Dumpsters are never pretty and often are over-filled with trash! Find out exactly what the world is like outside of YOUR unit.

Amenities in a Condo

Think about your age and lifestyle.  Are you paying high HOA fees for a pool and gym that you’ll never use? Is the complex filled with children who will be running, yelling, or irritating you in other ways when you just want quiet? Is the condo a townhouse with stairs?  You might not want stairs in a few years so think ahead. Your knees are the first thing to go!

Family Friendly vs 55+

Check out your neighbors.  If you’re ok with kids in the complex, are you ok with them above you or right next door?  Kids are great and you might love them but you won’t love ill-mannered kids with no supervision while Mom or Dad is at work. Thumping and running, video game noise and drum practice are not great sounds to deal with on the regular.

What does Masters Insurance Cover?

Find out what the complex insurance covers and what you need to protect yourself.  If your toilet overflows and damages the condo below you, you’ll be responsible for that.  And you’ll have a very angry neighbor! Ask your insurance agent for both content and liability insurance.

Do you need an Assigned Parking Spot?

If you want your own parking space, make sure that the contract includes an assigned space rather than an “entitled” space. There’s a difference.assigned means that the spots are numbered and you park in the same space every time. Entitled means that you are entitled to a spot anywhere in the parking lot. If the spot you’ve been assigned is far from your typical exit or entrance, you may prefer and entitled spot. However, if you are entitled to a spot and all the guests feel entitled also, you may drive around and around, looking for a spot each time you return home.

How to Read the Condo By Laws

Read them, know them, love them. Make sure you understand what you can put on the deck, if renting is an option should you change your mind in years to come, if a satellite dish is allowed, or if Fido can’t come. Believe me, you might think no one notices or cares about breaking rules but they do. There is always a nosy neighbor, no matter where you live.

What is a Special Assessment?

Ae there any special assessments?  On top of the HOA fee you might have to pay an additional amount for the next ten years for an improvement of which you had no say, such as a new roof, painting of the entire complex, new carpet, or paving the parking lot.

What does a Condo Board do?

Speaking of having a say, join the  condo board or at the very least, attend the monthly meetings.  Know what’s happening in your complex. And befriend those ON the board. They will be your best ally should you have a problem.

Renters vs Owners

Find out what percentage of residents in the complex are renters?  Renters and owners can be very different people when it comes to respect for the property. This is a broad statement, but owners are more likely to meticulously care for their unit while renters tend to expect the owners to do everything.

Management Company: Do They Manage?

Do your research on the Management company.  Are they well-respected or do they have lawsuits pending?  You want them to be responsive and reliable. You will need them to answer questions promptly, listen to your queries and be people of their word.

So that’s the low down on buying a condo! If you are interested in more information about buying a home, please click here for a copy of The Ultimate Guide to Buying a Home:

About the Author:

Dee Webster Realty Group has been helping families for over a decade and uses the latest in technology to assist your search.  We are dedicated to our clients regardless of their time frame or price range. Did you know that you can search for only homes with solar panels and other “green” aspects? Need a first floor Master or a jacuzzi tub? We can find all of that and more!

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