If you're considering buying a home in California you may be wondering, "Should I buy a condo?" Condominiums are generally less costly to purchase than houses or townhouses, and they can offer conveniences you might not otherwise be able to afford. In fact, some buyers who are priced out of single-family homes in high-priced markets may qualify only for mortgage loans on condos or co-ops.
Condominiums can be a good investment, especially if they allow you as a buyer to enter the real estate market. Qualifying for financing is much the same as getting a mortgage for a single-family home. If you are purchasing condos as investment properties, you should be able to find a lender as well. However, there are some caveats to owning a condominium. Here are five things to think about before you take the plunge.
1. You don’t own the land
A condo building is a building or complex consisting of multiple apartments that are individually owned. The entire building is owned by an individual or a property management company, but condo unit owners do not hold the title to the land on which the structure sits. This means the value of the property you own will consist solely of your condo.
Pro: Living in a condo means you have use of the real estate, but you won't be spending your weekends mowing the lawn.
Con: You can't change the landscaping and you have to share the common areas with other owners.
2. Increased amenities, decreased maintenance
Condo communities may offer amenities and common areas including pools, a garage, or tennis courts that you may not otherwise be able to afford if purchasing a townhouse or standalone house. These can be very attractive features for first-time home buyers. Additionally, owning a condo means you won't need to worry about managing the building maintenance because interior issues such as plumbing and electricity may be managed by the complex's community association.
Pros: Not only will you have fewer maintenance issues to worry about, but you also own your unit so you can decorate and personalize more than you would be able to as a renter.
Cons: You may need to wait for the association to fix something for you and you may not always agree with the association's decisions for larger projects.
3. Built-in social network
Your close proximity to your neighbors and access to shared areas mean there will be greater opportunities for you to meet new people and foster a sense of community. Of course, this depends if you get along with your neighbors.
Pro: If you're open to meeting new people and building friendships with your neighbors, this can be seen as a positive point.
Con: On the other hand, sharing walls with neighbors can mean less privacy, neighbors hearing your conversations, or being hyper-aware of when you come and go.
4. Homeowners associations can be bureaucratic
While HOAs are becoming more and more common even amongst single-family homeowners, condo HOAs can sometimes be difficult to deal with or have highly monthly association dues. Make sure to review the association's fees before you make a purchase as well as look at the minutes of the community association's meetings to see if there are any outstanding maintenance issues that are likely to be expensive which you may be asked to contribute toward as a resident.
5. Be wary if there are many condos for sale in the building
Unless a condo community is a brand-new construction looking to welcome its first group of condo owners, too many vacancies could mean there is a high level of dissatisfaction with the building and its living conditions. Be on the lookout for any red flags when touring a community and try to chat with a current resident or two to hear their side of the story.
All in all, if you're considering buying a condo ask yourself: do you like the condo's size? Neighborhood? Community? Can you afford the mortgage AND the homeowners association fees? If so, let's get you headed in the right direction. My name is Sara Griffin with the Associates Realty Group and it's my goal to not only help you buy or sell real estate but to be your REALTOR® for life. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to call me at 951-220-4491 or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
[Original article by Patricia-Ann Tom]