The question of “should we buy a condo” crosses everyones mind, especially those who live in urban areas. A condominium is a building or complex of buildings containing a number of individually owned unit homes. Just like owning home, when you buy a condo you own it outright. But there are a few things that all interested condo buyers should understand before they decide to buy.
Understand the Home Owners Association (HOA) Rules
When you buy a condo, you’re also buying into the association’s rules. This includes monthly ownership fees, operating budget, liens and personalities that are included within your potential condo. Before escrow is closed you should receive documentation of all the HOA rules. If you want to hang things outside your home, plant a tree, park your RV at your home, you’d better check with the HOA first.
Condo’s have monthly fees that are charged to each resident and cover an array of expenses. These expenses can include painting the exterior, landscaping, insurance, upkeep, maintenance, garages and other things. Knowing what your HOA has saved in the reserve is important so you know they actually have saved for these types of expenses and also understanding if there are any special projects slated for the next few years.
Reserve Fund and HOA Budget
Speaking of reserve fund, this is a very important item to be aware of if you are planning on buying a condo. The reserve fund is used for general maintenance and special assessment projects. If the reserve fund is low, this could lead to an increase in your HOA monthly fees to build the fund up. You also want to understand how the HOA is used and you can better understand that by reviewing the budget. These items should be included in the documents your realtor provides you when you are in contract.
If the condominium you are interested is managed by a particular company, ask for the name and check its reputation. Two great ways to look into a management company is through the BBB (Better Business Bureau) or even a simple Yelp search.
Understanding the ratio of tenants to renters is actually an important aspect when buying a condo. Some loans have minimum owner occupancy rates that a condo must meet to qualify for Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, FHA and VA loans.
Knowing Your Neighbors
The best way to meet the neighbors is to attend a HOA board meeting. Most of the time, if there are complicated neighbors they surface at these meetings. You can also get a better understanding of the current owners viewpoints and personal feelings on living at the condominium.
It is common that liability and hazard insurance are covered by the HOA and if it is not then it is up to the owner to cover these. You will be responsible for the “Walls In Coverage” also known as a Renter’s Policy cover the interior of the condo.
Condominiums can be great purchases, especially in urban areas where walk scores are high and they have well ran HOA’s. Many times sellers will not release the HOA documents until a buyer is in contract. Do not allow this to turn you away from making an offer. Once you are in contract you are allocated time to review the HOA documents once they are provided to you so that you can make sure they fit with the lifestyle you are looking to create.
Sacramento, CA 95818