What You Need to Know Before Buying a Condo Unit

What to Know Before Buying a Condo
What to Know Before Buying a Condo

Buying a condominium seems to be a good idea these days. City Condos are great as second homes and also qualify highly as a potential source for long or short-term rentals. However, like any other piece of property, people should seriously take into account some important factors which affect the “livability”, equity and resale value, and maintenance of your property.

Before becoming an official condo unit owner, consider these factors and make sure that everything is the right fit for you:

1) Property Management

Watch out for some condominium complex whose owners manage the place themselves. You could be trapped in a community where you cannot practice your rights.  Read and understand the condo declaration and the homeowner’s house rules. Inspect and gauge if the current living situation inside the complex suits you. Review the by-laws of the association to see if it abides by the state and federal laws. If rules are not making any sense, do not be afraid to ask and point out things that seem questionable or vague to you. You have the right to know the details prior to being a condo unit owner.

2) Neighbor Profile Watch

Your neighbors are always just around the corner – in the hallway, elevator, lobby, and literally just an inch of wall away from you. Before settling to buy, find out if the current community and neighbor profile are precisely the kind you want to live with.

3) Developer – Check

It is risky to buy or invest in condo units that are pre-sold.  Of course, if you are looking into buying a condo as an investment, it would be wiser to buy on a pre-selling stage since once turned over, the property has gained substantial equity already even if not fully paid. If this is the case, make sure you are investing on a condo built by a developer known for its good architectural and construction attributes as well as timely delivery so that buying without seeing the actual unit will not be a concern.

4) The Unit — Up Close and Personal

Denver Home Decor
Denver Home Decor

It’s a different story when you are up against whether or not to invest in a pre-selling condo handled by a new or unheard-of developer. The showroom will not suffice because units were purposely made to look great as part of the developers’ marketing efforts. However, come turnover, there could be a lot of unpleasant surprises. While this may not apply to every property out there, there are some cases that made some homeowners wish to withdraw their purchase. If this is something you are not willing to go through, be more mindful of your choice. Watch out for dirt-cheap deals for there could be a catch. It is not worth buying if it is made of sub-standard materials. Unlike Ready-For-Occupancy (RFO) units, you cannot inspect a pre-sold unit closely.

The best thing to do is ask for a detailed construction plan. As a buyer, you have the right to demand this. Make sure that the layout, the materials for use, scope of work, timeline, warranties and insurance are stipulated in the contract. This way, you can file a complaint, or get a refund if the developers failed to provide what they promised to deliver.

5) Outstanding Bills

If it’s for second ownership, check if the seller owes any back association dues, taxes or utility bills. You wouldn’t want to ruin “move-in day” for everyone with bills that aren’t even yours to begin with. Check all the important things inside it just to make sure it’s livable, problem-free, and a unit that’s ideal for you and your family.

6) Condo Features

Don’t decide based on just the looks of the unit. For all you know, there might be a long list of “things to fix” which could deplete your dollars the first month you’ve set foot on the property. This could be a bad sign that you’ve purchased a lemon. To avoid having to shoulder the gruesome task (…and cost) of repairs, have your checklist ready and make sure that all of these things work perfectly. This is also an added safety precaution especially for first-time movers.

Condo Checklist

  • Heating and air conditioning units
  • The bathroom’s water heater, pipe leaks, tiling, grout and showers
  • Smoke detectors
  • Fireplaces
  • Electrical system
  • Washer and dryer hookups
  • Doors, windows or skylights
  • Flooring, carpetry or other surfaces such as counters

Check all if these are all in good working condition, safe to use and securely installed and ready to use.

6) Mi Casa, Su Casa?

Remember that you are sharing some areas in the whole complex with other owners and you just cannot do whatever you want without the consent of the other homeowners. Every repair done should have approval from the association/management. There should be a consensus if there will be certain alterations done outside of your unit since it may affect the whole community’s look. Before signing any purchase documents, get these issues clear.

7) Insurance Policies, Amenities, etc.

Make sure that you’re not buying your insurance as a unit owner. The insurance should be paid for by the developer of the full complex.  Check if the association has a policy that will cover any damages done to your unit. The association or the managing office should have enough reserved funds to pay for maintenance and emergency repairs covering the whole complex. Otherwise, a special assessment can come knocking at your door with a bill that you are not prepared for.

Also have a checklist of amenities you want that goes with buying a unit:

  • Parking space
  • Club House
  • Swimming pool
  • Gym
  • Store coop, etc.

With all of these things clouding your thoughts, the services of real estate agents can be of great help, however, be watchful of those pitching only to make a sale. At the end of the day, you are your own man, so it’s best to do some intensive research on your own. Arm yourself with knowledge by asking for feedback from family and friends, current homeowners and condo buyers. Think of the pros and cons and see to it that the deal has your best interests. Trust your instincts and common sense. A real estate lawyer can work to your advantage especially if you are quite unfamiliar with the law. Their professional opinion would be beneficial in reviewing contracts and other legal documents prior to the sale.

About the Author:

Marie Christine Sing-Umali is a blogger and home improvement enthusiast working for Kitchen Cabinet Kings, a leading online distributor of discount bathroom and kitchen cabinets nationwide. If you are looking for high quality birch, maple, bamboo, and oak kitchen cabinets, you can count on Kitchen Cabinet Kings’ RTA Cabinets. Claim your free kitchen design service, discounts and know more about financing options by visiting their website.