Shopping for a Condo? Ask These 4 Questions before You Buy

Condominium homes have always been, and will likely
always be, an efficient and economical route to becoming a first-time
homeowner. They can offer the comfort, prestige, and even luxury appointments
that apartment living may lack, often at a cost that is not much different than
rent. With the current first-time home buyer tax credit and the deadline for
the move-up tax credit fast approaching, I advise you move fast on any condo
purchase you may be considering.

With my experience as Member of the Top 5 in Real Estate Network®, I am well
aware that not all condominiums are the same, however, so make sure you ask the
following four questions before you buy:

What will you own?
Read the bylaws and be sure you understand what you will be responsible for and
what belongs to the condo association. Will you own the boat dock at the back
of your unit? Can you elect to build a spa on your patio? Generally, unit owners
own and are responsible for the interior of their condos, while costs for
outside maintenance including common areas and sewer lines are the
association’s responsibility.

Who lives there?
Are the majority of residents owners or renters? Owners generally take more
interest in proper maintenance and are more willing than renters to serve on
the association board and enforce complex rules and regulations–including the
regular collection of homeowner dues.

How effective is
the homeowner’s association?
Do they have legal counsel,
reasonable funds and a capable, caring volunteer board? One way to judge is to
check with residents about restrictions, oversight and timeliness of repairs
and upgrades. Another is to take a hard look at the grounds and be wary of
signs of neglect.

What about special
The association should have the power to special
assess for needed, one-time large expenditures. Otherwise, things that need to
be done may never get done at all, leaving the complex vulnerable to disrepair
and lowered property values.

Don’t miss this great opportunity to become a homeowner or to downsize by
buying a condo (remember, the move-up tax credit does not require you to move
to a larger or more expensive home).

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