Elaine Quigley, CBR, CRS, GRI
Condos were once thought of as homes that attracted singles or couples, often without children. But today, condos are growing in popularity and attracting families of all sizes.
Condos can be an excellent choice for the right buyers. Here are a few things that should considered before purchasing a condo. Most buyers start with the condo itself. That may be a good place to begin but, before they buy, buyers should also consider other outside factors.
Some developers are building condos that have a look and feel like single-family homes. These modern condos have great rooms and open, flowing floor plans that look and feel like a single-family home rather than an apartment or condo.
One of the major attractions of condos is the low maintenance. The community area is maintained by an association funded by the dues that homeowners pay into it.
That’s why buyers’ first consideration should be to explore the development and make sure they like the look and feel of the complex and surrounding community. There are covenants, codes and restrictions – often referred to as CC&Rs – that buyers will have to abide by once they purchase a condo. Buyers should ask to review them before making an offer to purchase. These regulations help ensure that the community maintains its general appearance and any necessary repairs of the external areas.
Review the association’s budget. It may be necessary to get the seller to provide this information because it may not be released to a non-owner who is only a potential buyer. However, in considering buying into a development, it’s almost like going into business with the neighbors in the complex. It’s important to make sure that the association is running properly and has enough of a reserve for necessary expenses and maintenance. The budget and CC&Rs will give an idea about how stable the association is and if increases in the homeowners’ association dues are likely each year.
Find out how many owners in the development are delinquent on their dues. A condo complex that has a high level of delinquencies can cause problems for buyers when it comes time to get a loan or sell the condo. Some loans are not approved if delinquency rates are higher than 15 percent.
Review the minutes from the association’s board meetings. They will reveal the day-to-day issues that occur each month and give an indication of how the development is run. For instance, lots of complaints and filings about noisy residents, loud parties, or dog droppings on the lawn reveal potential problems with neighbors. The minutes will also reveal if the development is engaged in any lawsuits.
Understand what your responsibilities are for the upkeep of the condo. Find out what the association takes care of and what the homeowners have to maintain. Look at the association’s property management team and see how many times the association has changed management companies. Find out why. This will may reveal how responsive the association will be should residents need its assistance.
Ultimately, buyers need to ensure that when they purchase a condo they’re not buying into any legal battles the association is in the middle of and that they will be able to live in their condo the way they want. Study the CC&Rs and do due diligence before buying.
Elaine Quigley, CBR, CRS, GRI
125 Turnpike Road, Suite 7
Westborough, MA 01581
Business: (508) 366-4266
Cell: (508) 735-5161