A condo can be an ideal housing situation for someone who wants to build equity but would be happy with an apartment. Your condo budget will be different than what you’d pay for a house; for example, your HOA dues will need to be high enough to cover your exterior insurance, green fees, and any shared resources, like a pool or a clubhouse.
What to Know Before Buying a Condominium
Make sure that you know what your HOA dues will be before you invest in your condo. The condo alone may look like a great deal, but if the HOA dues are high, your housing costs can be markedly higher than just your mortgage.
Additionally, you may need a more significant down payment or access to conventional funding. An FHA-back mortgage may be available, but the restrictions on the structure itself may be tight. If you’re considering a condo, let your realtor know or inform your mortgage broker in the application process, so you get prequalified for both a house and a condo.
Look for Community
One of the essential tips for buying a condo is to buy into a healthy, friendly community. Check out the HOA newsletter. Ask your realtor for information on any legal challenges faced by the HOA. Poor choices made by the HOA board can wipe out your resale value. You want to be sure that your intended condo purchase isn’t in a contentious community.
You also will enjoy your life more if you’re around like-minded people. If you’re concerned about the environment, make sure each trash bin also has a recycling bin. If you’re interested in renewable energy, look for a condo community with solar panels. This may raise the purchase price of your condo, but a good solar system will pay for itself in ten years.
Tips for Buying a Condominium
Make sure your budget will cover both the condo payment and the HOA dues. Be prepared for the HOA dues to go up each year. Check out the clubhouse and other shared amenities; if they’re in rough shape, you and other homeowners in your neighborhood will be on the hook for those repairs, which means higher dues.
If your condo is set up to allow you to age in place, do be aware that a condo is a terrific retirement option. However, even if you pay off the mortgage, you will need to be ready to pay HOA dues for as long as you live in the condo. However, if you were in a house, you would still have to pay for outdoor utilities and exterior insurance coverage; while HOA dues will likely be more, they may well be worth it for your situation.
Pros and Cons of Owning a Condo
- Pros: Exterior Care
Why buy a condo? Exterior maintenance is generally someone else’s job. You may have a garden that you can easily customize to your taste in front of your house, but as a rule, lawn mowing, tree trimming, and other more prominent tasks are the responsibility of your HOA.
If you have physical limitations or don’t like yard work, this can make a condo purchase an ideal investment. Even if you don’t mind yard work, those who live in snowy areas will likely appreciate opening that garage door and noting that someone else has scooped your parking area and turn-around space.
If your condo is sandwiched between neighbors, you may enjoy the insulation offered by the protection against the north wind. Finally, your condo purchase offers an inherent privacy screen. If your free-standing house is empty because you’re on vacation, that emptiness will be pretty obvious. If your condo is vacant, your neighbors will keep your home looking active and reduce your risk of break-in or vandalism.
- Cons: Limited Choices and Noise
If you love flowering trees, you may not be able to plant one if the HOA disapproves. You may also not be allowed to grow vegetables, hang exterior lights, or change out your fence. Clotheslines are probably off-limits, and entertainment features like speakers or an outdoor kitchen may not be allowed.
The color of the exterior of your home will be out of your control unless you want to serve on your condo board. Once you join the board, be prepared for resistance; many condo owners are older and uncomfortable with change.
Living in a house can expose you to noise. If your neighbor and their family enjoy loud music, you’re going to have to deal with that exposure. However, condos mean shared walls. You may hear pets, television shows, loud conversations, and music. You may also smell what they cooked for dinner.
Many condos are tall and narrow. If you’re planning to retire in your condo, it’s crucial to look at any limitations caused by stairs. For example, if you have to climb stairs to take a shower or sleep, your ability to age in place will be severely limited. Adding a chair elevator may be an option, but this form of investing will take time and money. If that’s part of your long-term plan, put it in before you have to have it.
Additionally, you’re going to want to consider your laundry needs carefully. If you have bedrooms on the second floor and laundry in the basement, you’re going to be carrying heavy baskets up and down. If you’re planning to age in place, consider moving the laundry close to the bedrooms to reduce the risk of a fall.
Why buy a condo? Convenience, exterior ease, and a built-in community. When working out what to know before purchasing a condo, your personal preferences will pay particular attention. If you need to choose the paint colors on the exterior of your home, don’t buy a condo. If you don’t think about the exterior and never want to mow again, a condo can be a great choice.
Contact Sheridan Solomon & Associate Realtors Today
If you any more questions or need a little more guidance, the staff, and realtors at Sheridan Solomon & Associate Realtors are real estate experts in Macon, GA, and Warner Robins, GA. Call or email us today, and we can get you on the path to homeownership today.