Real Estate – Tips to Know Before Buying a Condo

Condo sales are becoming an increasingly popular real estate venture for many homebuyers these days. According to the National Association of Realtors, during 2006 condominium sales made up 12 percent of all U.S. existing home sales for the year, with a total of 803,000 condos being exchanged on the market. And especially today in a slower real estate world, people are looking to options that they can afford. Plus, as many baby boomers begin to retire, they are looking to downsize their space for a more manageable and comfortable retirement. If you are considering a condominium purchase in the near future, there are several things you should know and do to make your investment worthwhile.Condominium Definition
A condo is a housing unit grouped together with other units, generally with shared walls between them. In order to provide for the overall maintenance of the shared walls and amenities like water pipes and roofs, a condo association is set up by the owners. It can be self-run or managed by an outside company, but the association collects dues from the individual owners and uses the money to pay for repairs and upkeep of the grounds and common utilities.Before you buy a condo there a few things you should find out:The condo association’s responsibilities
The laws of the association are legally binding and it is wise to know exactly what your obligations will be and what the responsibilities of the association are. You may want to have your real estate attorney go over the association’s by-laws with you to make sure you understand all the legal jargon.The ratio of owner occupied to renter occupied units
Some associations prohibit owners from renting their unit out to tenants. This is because they feel that renters will not have great incentive to help keep the place nice and do routine maintenance. After all, they do not own the condo and can move out at any time. Owners tend to take more responsibility for keeping their own condo and the common areas looking nice. The ratio of how many owners versus renters live in the building may tell you something about the state of the real estate. However, if you are intending to use your condo as a rental or vacation property, that ratio may not matter as much to you. Your main concern will be to find a condo where renting is permitted.The association dues.
Some associations charge minimal fees, but others provide more extensively for the needs of the building and therefore charge much higher dues. Be sure to find out for certain how much the fees are, how often they are paid and if they are subject to frequent increases before you sign a contract. Exorbitant association fees may make the purchase much less appealing.If a mortgage lender will finance the purchase.
Appraisals for condos are generally more intense than those of single family units. This is because the value of an individual condominium is extremely connected to the value of the surrounding units. If your lender does not feel that the rest of the condo building is up to par you may not be able to find financing for the purchase even if the unit you want to buy is in good condition. Talking to a lender before starting your search will help you know what types of condos are easily approved for funding.