Is Buying a Condo a Good Idea?

July 8, 2014

Have you ever entertained the idea of purchasing a condo? There are a number of appropriate scenarios where owning a condo makes a lot of sense. For young adults, committing to a property that’s smaller on the financial and maintenance scale as compared to a traditional house is enticing. Then there are the parents with college age children who like the idea of buying a condo rather than paying for on-campus housing. When their children graduate, they often hold on to the property for its ongoing investment potential. Finally, those looking towards retirement typically view condo living as a nice break from decades of home repairs and yard work. To make sure the picture is truly as bright as it seems, here are several important steps and points to consider before you take the plunge:


One of the most attractive features of living in a condo is the number of amenities offered. In cities, free, safe parking, onsite venues for recreation, shopping, dining, and entertainment are huge perks. Other condominium neighborhoods may be centered around conveniences such as tennis courts, golf courses, swimming pools, trails for biking and walking or access to watersports. Sometimes, such bells and whistles can make it difficult to see the forest for the trees. Evaluate the additional cost for these “built-in” features, which is usually reflected in the HOA dues as well as periodic assessments. In other words, decide if all of those amenities are worth it and affordable.

Close quarters-Condo living means residing in close proximity to others. Depending on the size of the complex or community, you could have over a hundred near neighbors. On one hand, lots of folks feel safer when so many others are close by. Another school of thought is that such a setup makes it necessary to deal with too many personalities and some may not be agreeable! Make sure this is something you can manage.

Convenient or Not?

Because condo life is usually centered in either a densely populated metro area or resort town, you’re likely to be close to a range of amenities, goods, and services. Being able to walk to work or school, utilize nearby recreational facilities, and shop and dine at neighborhood establishments can be a huge plus. However, those who have the need to “get away from it all” at the end of the day, may want to settle elsewhere.

Less Maintenance

Ahhh…condo life on Easy Street. No lawn mower, no toolbox, no pool skimmer, no problem! Individuals seem to either love or hate the idea of having everything taken care of. Never having to track down repair personnel, deal with yard work and routine maintenance sounds like a dream for millions of hardworking homeowners. Be aware that sometimes, tempers flare because of the way certain jobs are done. Before buying into a condo community, find out whether or not the current residents are pleased with the services that are being provided.

Less Freedom

In order to maintain continuity and a neat appearance, condo complexes have stringent guidelines for a variety of things. If you are the type of person that resents having their choices such as exterior paint colors, landscaping, or window treatments dictated, consider yourself warned: Condo living comes with rules.

Final Steps

When you have decided that condo life would be a good fit, your next step is to find the right one. In weighing the pros and cons of buying a condo, please be aware that in depth research on specific units should be an important part of the process.

To help you on this quest, choose an experienced real estate agent. Ideally, select one who has had direct experience with the condominium property in question. Realtors get loads of feedback from past buyers and may have insight into how the HOA is run and so forth.

Understand what the HOA is and what it is responsible for. Find out what your HOA fees do and do not cover, payment deadline and accepted methods of payment. Most HOAs are the entities created by the project developer that are then turned over to the condo-owners. In most scenarios, HOAs are responsible for collecting dues, insurance expenses and maintaining the common areas. Please read more about HOAs and how there are run by clicking on this very informative article from Investopedia.

Be sure to go over all of the HOA documents, such as the by-laws, annual budget and covenants, with a fine-toothed comb. It is never a bad idea to run it by a real estate attorney as well. Obtain copies of the minutes from past HOA meetings to understand how things are run and if there are any unresolved issues among the homeowners or the management.

If possible, find out how many units are occupied by the actual owners. Your investment will be safer in a unit surrounded by others that are owner-occupied rather than by out of town landlords.

Those buying or pre-buying into a new condo complex, should thoroughly research the developers and their track record.

Find out if there is an application process and background check, which will protect you from buying into a dangerous situation, such as questionable neighbors, or owners who may face foreclosure in the future.

Just like a traditional home purchase, condo ownership is a big step. Ensure success by taking the time to learn and truly consider all of the facts.

If you’re interested in buying or refinancing a condo, eLEND is here to help. we offer a wide variety of fixed rate and adjustable rate solutions inlcuding low money down options such as FHA and USDA loans. Give us a call at (800) 634-8616 for a free quote and consultation.


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