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Tips for buying a condo

Magnifying glass in front of an open newspaper with paper houses.

More home buyers these days, especially the millennial set, are considering a condo purchase more than a home purchase. However, condo ownership is not exactly for everyone.

If you want to know whether a condo is fit for you or not, here are some questions to ask yourself. These will be a big help to you as you compose your home buying process checklist.

Does it fit your lifestyle?

If you prefer to live close to or within the city, then condo living is for you. Condos are usually located near commercial districts, making your daily commute short and fast. Even urban conveniences will most likely be a short walk away.

Moreover, living in a condo allows for more time engaging in things that matter most to you – not upkeep issues like gardening and home maintenance or repairs. The homeowners’ association will take those responsibilities from your own hands and into theirs.

On the other hand, if you’ve always dreamt of having your own yard to maintain and your own space to customize, a house could be your better option. It also gives you a respite from the fast-paced urban life.

Does the property offer the amenities you need?

When you buy a condo, you can take advantage of wonderful building amenities for free. Fitness centers, pools, parking, conference halls, shared open spaces – these are just a few of the awesome amenities that make condo living exciting.

In condo-shopping, look at the amenities each has. Go for the one with the most building features that will be useful to you. Also keep in mind that even if you won’t use some of them, these amenities will help drive up your unit’s price when you decide to sell it.

Are you dealing with an agent that specializes in condos?

Even if both are real estate entities, buying a condo is still different from buying a single-family home. You will need a real estate agent who specializes in this particular property. They should possess the experience and a great track record in selling condominiums. They could address any concerns you may have regarding your condo purchase. They know the market climate for condos and will be able to properly advise you on the best time to buy a condominium as your new home.

Did you research on the property you’re eyeing?

It pays to know the finer details about the condo that catches your eye. See how it’s being maintained and managed by the HOA. You may want to secure a copy of the rules and fees to give you an idea of how things are being run in that condo. There may be some rules that may not appeal to you (e.g., you may have four pets but the HOA only allows two) or questionable fees. If these will raise your eyebrow then you may want to look elsewhere.

It may also be prudent to look into the rate of unit sales for a particular condo building. Consider it a red flag if you see more than the usual number of units being sold in that building alone. This may be an indicator of high levels of dissatisfaction with the building.

Note, also, that getting a mortgage for a condo isn’t the same as getting one for other types of properties. There are some technicalities that make mortgages for condos more difficult to be approved, especially government-backed ones like FHA or VA loans. Thus, you may want to also consider conventional mortgages that could give you more attainable requirements and easier terms.

Have you weighed the pros and cons?

If you’re trying to choose between a condo and a single-family home, among the first steps to purchasing one is to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each decision. We already mentioned how buying a condo can have a positive effect on your lifestyle and investment strategies. But just like anything else in life, it’s not perfect.

Here are some of the disadvantages of condo ownership:

  • You don’t own the land – just the unit. The land and the building where your unit is located does not belong to you. This is not the case when you’re buying a new construction home.
  • Less privacy. Walls are the only things separating you from your next-door neighbor. If you’re the type who craves peace and quiet, this may not be the ideal setup for you.
  • Space and storage issues. There are more spacious condos out there these days but space in a single-family home includes both the house itself and the yard surrounding it. Closets, shelves, and other storage areas are either built-in or are among your furniture.

For more advice for first-time condo buyers, call us – Kathy Danais and Lisa Gordon. Our 30 years of experience in local real estate has given us more informed insights on the general status, trends, and outlook of the Connecticut market. Give our team, the Danais and Gordon Realty Group, a call at 860.214.1295 or 860.805.7722. You can also send an email to kathydanais(at)gmail(dotted)com or lgordonrealtor(at)gmail(dotted)com.