Are you considering a condominium purchase? Here are some tips to keep in mind before you sign on the dotted line. You are about to buy into a group, and the rules of the group rule the way you can live. Here are the 10 questions buyers should ask when deciding whether to purchase a condominium unit:
1. What is the monthly condominium fee (dues) and what does it pay for? The monthly condominium fees vary dramatically from condominium to condominium. The fee is a by-product of the number of units, the annual expenses to maintain the common area, whether the condo is professionally managed or self-managed, the age and condition of the project, and other variables such as litigation.
2. What are the condominium rules & regulations? Condominium rules can prohibit pets, your ability to rent out the unit and to perform renovations. Make sure you carefully review ALL the rules and regulations before buying. I counsel my clients to have a substantial amount of time to review and approve all condominium documents, including the master deed, declaration of trust/by-laws, covenants.
3. How much money is in the capital reserve account and how much is funded annually? The capital reserve fund is like an insurance policy for the inevitable capital repairs every building requires. As a general rule, the fund should contain at least 10% of the annual revenue budget, and in the case of older projects, even more.
4. Are there any contemplated or pending special assessments? Special assessments are one-time fees for capital improvements payable by every unit owner. Some special assessments can run in the thousands. You need to be aware if you are buying a special assessment along with your unit. It’s a good idea to ask for the last 2 years of condominium meeting minutes to check what’s been going on with the condominium.
5. Is there a professional management company or is the association self-managed? A professional management company, while an added cost, can add great value to a condominium with well run governance and management of common areas.
6. Is the condominium involved in any pending legal actions? Legal disputes between owners, with developers, or with the association can signal trouble and/or a poorly run organization. Legal action equals attorneys’ fees which are payable out of the condominium budget and could result in a special assessment. In most states, you can run a search of the condominium association in the court database to check if they’ve been involved in recent lawsuits.
7. How many units are owner occupied? A large percentage of renters can create unwanted noise and neighbor issues. It can also raise re-sale and financing issues with the new Fannie Mae and FHA condominium regulations which limit owner-occupancy rates. This is vital considering your exit strategy and the financing available to the next buyer when you are ready to sell the condo.
8. What is the condominium fee delinquency rate? Again, a signal of financial trouble, and Fannie Mae and FHA want to see the rate at 15% or less.
9. Do unit owners have exclusive easements or the right to use certain common areas such as porches, decks, storage spaces and parking spaces? Condominiums differ as to how they structure the “ownership” of certain amenities such as roof decks, porches, storage spaces and parking spaces.
10. What Does The Complex Insurance Policy Cover? For a buyer’s own protection, they should always buy an individual HO-6 policy covering the interior and contents of the unit.
Your representative is your best asset. I commit myself to cultivating relationships with the other agents in my area. good communication is your best tool in making these important decisions. Let me know how I can help: 206-713-3244 or email me.
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