For some economic reasons, the popularity of condos has grown over the past few years. They are more affordable than single family homes, have much less maintenance and provide amenities for family living. All of the common areas, like pools, tennis courts or playgrounds are collectively owned by all the residents. They are a great option for those who want to own their own place, but are not quite ready for the expense of a single family house.
Each condo community will have their own homeowners association with rules and regulations which should be reviewed thoroughly before a purchase. It may be that you have a pet larger than permitted or pets are not permitted at all; you may have a restriction on how many cars can be parked; there may be rules concerning lawn ornaments or colors your door can be painted. It is important to know whether or not your lifestyle can conform to the strict regulations.
Always be aware of the condo association’s budget. It is important to take note of any outstanding debt owed to the association and if there are owners who are not paying their dues. There should be a “reserve fund” to cover expenses of potential major repairs: new roof, road paving, exterior painting, landscaping, etc. Without this fund, the association can charge owners “special assessments” to cover the costs. The less cash reserves there are, the better chance that the condo owners will be charged for future improvements.
The few drawbacks on buying a condo include: they tend to appreciate at a slower rate than other properties; condo fees can be much higher than HOA dues in other communities; you have many more neighbors and less privacy. On a positive note, homeowners insurance is much less since the association has a master policy in place; there are usually some great amenities on the property; there is very little upkeep and it is easy to make friends.
The assistance of a knowledgeable realtor is important when considering a condo purchase. The more details and information collected on a particular condo community and association, the more successful and stress free the purchase will be.