Most people are looking for the perfect home to move into. However, many of these home buyers never stop to think that a condo may be best for them.
Life in a condo can be amazing – no snow shoveling, no lawn mowing and you have a sense of neighborhood and belonging. Buying a condo also means you probably will be part of a condo association, similar to a home owners’ association.
If a condo is starting to sound nice, you aren’t alone; almost 60 million Americans live in a condo, and people moving into the city may find that a condo is best for them.
The association will have a say over how you do certain things, such as how many pets you can have or what colors you can paint your front door. It also will charge you monthly or annual condo fees for the upkeep of common areas.
But before you buy a condominium, here is some information to consider.
What Is A Condo Association?
A condo association governs the policies of the complex, distributes expenses for maintenance and collects any association fees that owners pay. Anyone who owns a condo in the complex is a member of the condo association, so you can be involved in managing the land and property that surrounds your own condo.
The association is allowed to make rules that can cover anything from what type of flowers you can plant outside to how many cars can be parked in your driveway. It might sound a little bossy, but many of the rules are there to keep the condo area looking uniform and curb appeal strong so property values stay high.
So if you’re planning on moving out of your condo at some point, following condo association guidelines can help improve the value of your place.
What Do You Own When You Buy A Condo?
When you buy a condo, you own your own unit and part of all the common areas, such as stairways, hallways and amenities. But every condo is different, and you could end up owning more or less than that. Before signing on the dotted line, find out exactly what you’re buying into.
You’ll also want to get a list of all the rules and regulations before falling in love with a condo. This tells what land in the condo area is subject to the governing documents and which parts are common areas owned by the association.
Also, if you don’t plan on living there very long but hope to rent out your condo someday, there might be restrictions on that, too.
Lastly, ask about any additional fees. The cost of outside maintenance usually is paid by the unit owners. If you are in a cold climate, make sure you understand whether or not those fees go up depending on how much snow comes down.
You’ll also probably have to pay your fair share to use the exercise room and the pool as well as any new projects that the board approves like revamping the clubhouse or adding benches to the park area.
What Does The Board Of Directors Do?
A board of directors elected by unit owners. They have the most power even though everyone in the complex is empowered to help run it.
You can even volunteer to run for the board, depending on condo bylaws. The board runs daily operations and is in charge of any upcoming developments, such as building a clubhouse or adding other amenities.
The board can also pass budgets, charge fees and create and enforce rules. One challenge may be having board members with little to no property management experience. Hence, about two-thirds of associations hire professional property managers.
Either way, you can still get involved, and you can constantly help to improve your complex by working with the board of directors.
Check Out The Board
You should find out how the condo association of your desired complex is run. Some of them are almost completely ran by residents who take turns serving as president of the board.
There might not be much formality to the organization. That could be bad when it comes to maintaining common areas or keeping the values up, and it could prompt you to look at other condos.
Talk To Current Condo Owners In The Complex
Introduce yourself to current condo owners before you buy. Ask them questions about living in the complex, if they like the amenities and if they think the board is doing a good job. Ask about the rules and the fees, and whether they seem fair and livable.
Anywhere you live depending on the city, town, subdivision or condo community, there will be rules to follow. Weigh your options and understand if the condo you want to buy will be the right one for you, and whether you can afford the condo association fees.