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What to Know Before Purchasing a Condo: A Buyer’s Guide

When buying a condo, knowing the right questions to ask when comparing options is essential to ensuring your new home fits all of your needs. Below are some of the most important questions to ask and things you need to know when buying a condo!

1. What are average monthly condo fees?

Purchasing a condo means that your expenses might vary monthly and shift greatly year-to-year, so make sure your budget is in check before signing on the dotted line. Do so by fully understanding the condo fees at your new home. Not entirely sure what to expect for HOA fees? Realtor.com offers an overview of communal expenses, but you can get a more accurate idea of your living expenses by jumping into the finance reports of your condo association.

2. What do condo fees cover?

Moving to a condo to escape lawn care and snow removal? Looking forward to complimentary storage space? Make sure these amenities and services are included in your monthly condo fees. While it’s common that shared spaces like a pool, fitness center, and patio are covered by HOA fees, it’s important to fully understand how fees work with your association before buying a condo. Ask about recent raises in condo fees and if there are any expected increases in the future to save yourself a headache later.

3. Are the homeowners association’s finances in order?

Taking the time before signing to make sure the money going into condo fees is being properly managed could save you dividends in the future. One large factor that determines if your fees will increase depends on reserve funds. Damage to condo property, a fire, or even a much-needed update to a shared space could increase monthly fees if there aren’t sufficient reserve funds. Predict these expenses by asking if there are any upcoming special assessments. Otherwise, you could be paying a big one-time bill for maintenance fees.

4. Is there any pending litigation?

Legal fees facing the condo association could quickly affect your monthly budget. Before committing to a condo, ask if there are any current lawsuits underway and look into your condo’s liability insurance. Not only is condo litigation something that could hurt your budget, but frequent lawsuits point to poor management and drama within the community.

5. What does condo insurance cover?

Another thing to consider when buying a condo is the insurance policy. An inclusive master policy could save you money overall. However, if the condo association has cut corners to save money, their policy might not cover your personal belongings or the appliances within your unit. Looking into the policy before you close on your condo could save you from needing costly supplemental insurance.

6. What are the HOA’s rules?

Can you have a large dog? Do you get to put up Christmas decorations? Where can visitors park? Are you allowed to list your space on Airbnb or rent it out long-term? These questions might slip your mind when you’re in the thick of negotiating your condominium purchase, but they could ultimately determine if condo living is right for you! Before you commit, make sure you have a physical copy of the HOA rules, bylaws, and regulations.

7. Can you see the condo board’s meeting minutes?

One of the best ways to understand the community you’re about to join is to look at the minutes from past meetings. These notes will help you get a better idea about how the place is run and the current financials. Worried about poor soundproofing or overly-involved neighbors? Condo meeting minutes can give you an idea about the most common complaints and how they’re handled. Did you request to see the condo associations records and get denied? This could be a red flag that the development is lacking transparency.

8. What is the potential resale value?

Obviously, you can’t predict the future. And neither can the condo association. But there are certain factors to consider to ensure you’re making a smart investment. The condo market can be rather unpredictable but here are some things to consider before making the leap:

  • Condo Fees: Make sure your HOA fees are similar to nearby developments. If your fees are egregious compared to nearby condominium communities, you might struggle to sell your condo in the future.
  • Buyers vs. Renters: Seeking out condo communities with fewer renters or one that’s for buyers-only can help you increase the odds of a high resale value.
  • Amount of Unsold Units: Lots of unsold units are usually not a good sign. Check first to see how many properties are still on the market and how long they’ve been there.

Buying a condo is a big commitment. But knowing the right questions to ask can help you make the entire process a little more manageable. A few extra hours of research now could save you from a less than ideal living situation in the future, so it’s time do your homework! Learn more about the advantages and disadvantages of buying a condo.

8 questions to ask before buying a condo