Everyone knows there’s a big difference between renting an apartment and buying a home but not everyone realizes that buying a condo is significantly different from buying a single-family home. There are many good reasons to want to live in a condominium, but the buying process can be a minefield of potential disasters to the unprepared.
The most important difference between a condo and a single-family home isn’t the price, it’s the lifestyle. While most buyers are clear about the upside of condo life “a vibrant location, little maintenance, convenience to work, shopping, restaurants, services, transportation and entertainment’ it also can have a downside. Condo owners may be asked to sacrifice some privacy and autonomy, tolerate more noise, and pay close attention to their condo board and the community’s management company.
The way to avoid problems, is to do some research, and avoid making an impulsive buying decision. Start with a visit. If you’re buying in an existing building, consider an evening visit, when neighbors are at home, and you’ll get a better feel for the noise levels. Visiting in the evening also means you may have a chance to speak with current residents.
For those considering condos that are under construction, ask about phase one pricing discounts, what phase of construction the complex is in, and how many units will ultimately be constructed. If a particular condo unit is near an amenity such as a pool or party room, you might consider the added noise factor.
Aside from noise, which many characterizes as the most frequent irritant for new condo residents (we hear this most from high-rise condo owners) , there often are issues concerning assigned and guest parking, storage space, limitations on pets, satellite dishes, and the ability to rent the unit, and the amount of money the condo board should have in reserve for maintenance and replacement. Buyers are well served in seeking out a buyer’s agent “a real estate agent who works for them, not the seller’“ who specializes in condos. Make your agent earn their commission! They should explain everything, and identify potential problems.
Agents can also assist in reviewing all the condo documents. The condo documents have all the answers, they are a stack of paper as big as a phone book, and they can be intimidating. Most of the paperwork is generic but the 10 percent that isn’t boilerplate is where the problems hide, especially in older buildings.
Insurance is one issue the condo purchase documents should address. Most buildings have an umbrella policy, but buyers need to know what is covered and what isn’t, to determine the amount and type of coverage they’ll need.
Buyers in older buildings should hire a home inspector, and insist that the inspector read and review the building’s Engineer’s Report. That describes the life expectancy of the roof and major systems, and gives the buyer a clue as to when condo owners are likely to need costly replacements. By comparing those estimates with estimated condo fee payments, buyers can see if the condo board has planned for sufficient reserves to replace systems without levying large assessments on the owners.
Finally, condo loans are regulated differently from other loans. Some loans, especially on units converted from apartments, may not be eligible to be resold on the secondary market. An agent who specializes in condo sales and has experience with lenders will know what questions to ask.
The policies that cover when and whether owners can rent their condos to others also are in the condo documents. It used to be standard that only 25 percent of a building can be rented at any time, but recently, large banks have allowed as many 75 percent of a building’s units to be investor-owned and rented.
Simply, agents can assist buyers avoid problems and help owner’s enjoy all the good things about their new lifestyle from the day they move in.
If you, or someone you know is considering Buying or Selling a Home in Columbus, Ohio please give us a call and we’d be happy to assist you!
The Opland Group Specializes in Real Estate Sales, Luxury Home Sales, Short Sales in; Bexley 43209 Columbus 43201 43206 43214 43215 Delaware 43015 Downtown Dublin 43016 43017 Gahanna 43219 43230 Grandview Heights 43212 Galena 43021 Hilliard 43026 Lewis Center 43035 New Albany 43054 Pickeringto, 43147 Polaris Powell 43065 Upper Arlington 43220 43221 Westerville 43081 43082 Worthington 43235