Questions to Ask When Buying a Condo
Condo living usually means amazing locations and modern amenities without the headache of home ownership or major repairs. Whether you’re buying your first pad or downsizing after becoming an empty-nester, a condo is a great option to call home. But before taking the plunge into condo ownership, it’s always a good idea to ask questions and do some detective work.
- Research the Homeowners Association (HOA) fees and be ready to add them to your potential loan payment — is it a reasonable payment for what you’re getting? Also be sure to consider property taxes and condo insurance, if they aren’t included in your monthly mortgage payment.
- Ask for a copy of the HOA’s budget, including its money in reserve. Are they financially sound and does the HOA use its budget for essentials? Also take note if there’s a difference in how much each unit is charged for HOA fees.
- Obtain a copy of the HOA’s insurance policy — are there any unusual aspects to the policy? Typically, the unit owner must cover the possessions and finishes inside their unit, and any damage that occurs to the building is covered by their association’s policy.
- Ask about what storage and/or underground parking is included with your unit.
- Request the HOA’s policies for condo owners. Some can read like a rental lease agreement with a lot of regulations, but others may not have enough rules and allow behaviors you’d rather not live around.
- Ask current residents what they most enjoy about living there.
- Get a copy of the last year’s utilities for that unit.
- Find out if the building allows owners to rent their apartments out to others. If they can rent, what is the rental to owner-occupied unit ratio?
- Find out how often units in the building are on the market. If there’s a low turnover, it’s more likely you’ll have an easier time selling your unit if you need to in the future.
- Find out the last time the association fees were increased. Has it been awhile and could it happen again in the near future? It’s difficult to predict, but a glance at the money in reserves can help predict this.
- Look at crime reports for your building’s address to better understand its safety.
- Check the building’s security. At minimum, it should have a camera in the vestibule and security-locked entry doors.
- Inquire about the electrical, HVAC and plumbing systems and when they were last improved.
- Inspect the windows and doors — especially balcony doors. When were they last replaced? What are the regulations for replacing them?
- Ask about the association’s rules regarding remodeling and improvements inside the units.
- Find out how many units in the building are delinquent in paying their dues. You can often find that out by looking at the budget or by looking up court records under the HOA’s name.
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