Purchasing a condo shares many of the same qualities and steps as buying a home. There are some small differences, but by arming yourself with information and a real estate agent, you can successfully navigate through the process of buying a condo.
Know common issues found in a condo inspection
Hiring a professional to evaluate the condition of the condo you are considering purchasing should be a priority. Ensure you hire a certified home inspector and ask for references.
During the inspection, ask to join the professional and pose any questions that may arise during the process. This can help you have a better understanding of the true condition of the home, potential issues that may arise and gather information that can help you while negotiating a final purchase price with the seller.
Before the inspection, make sure you understand what issues are commonly uncovered and the approximate cost of fixing them. If you are unsure, feel free to ask the inspector. They serve as a valuable resource for you during this part of the process.
In addition, you should be aware that issues will most likely arise, according to the Improvement Center.
"There is no such thing as a perfect house," said Brian Wetzel, owner of a HouseMaster Home Inspections franchise in North Carolina. Wetzel has been in building and construction since 1994 and a home inspector for eleven years. "Even if you buy a new construction home -- in fact, especially with a new construction home, you can find problems."
Knowing this ahead of time will help you stay calm when a home inspector unveils a problem in what you thought was the perfect condo.
Understand HOA fees
Homeowner Association fees often accompany the purchase of a condo. These expenses are charged on a monthly basis and vary depending on the property you are considering.
These fees are used to pay for features that everyone in the complex uses. For example, if there is a pool the HOA fees you pay each month go toward maintenance.
When establishing your budget you should factor in HOA fees. These expenses will be as regular as your monthly mortgage payment and accounting for them is crucial.
Bankrate noted you will want to be on the lookout for HOAs that are not in good financial standing. This may wind up driving up your HOA fees and cost you more money in the long run.
"Buyers should be looking for a steady financial picture," Scollar says. "Big yearly spikes and dips in spending are good signs the building is in trouble."
In addition, emergency borrowing done by the organization may indicate further financial trouble.
Your real estate agent can help you identify when an association is strong with a bright financial future. Ask questions to be sure you get the most complete picture possible.
Check in about rules and regulations
Because a condo is a shared space there may be rules in place that you must follow. These are often determined by the HOA and current residents. Regulations on paint color, remodeling options and whether you can own a pet may be in place.
Ensure you fully understand all the rules before deciding to move forward with the purchase of a condo. If you recently purchased a new puppy, but animals are not permitted in the building, you may have caused a significant problem for yourself. If you are ever unsure, always ask even to just double check that having Fido around is alright with the HOA.
Making your offer
When you reach out to the seller or his or her agent, your real estate professional can help you a great deal. Market Watch suggested starting off with a lower offer and building up from there.
If you are concerned about entering a bidding war, relay this information to your agent. He or she can ensure you are not driven to pay more for a condo because of a competitive situation.
When you really want your offer to stand out to a seller appeal to them by writing a personal letter, offering a cash down payment or demonstrating you are pre-approved for a specific loan amount. By using these techniques you may appeal to a seller more than you otherwise would.
Also, don't get hung up on a property if the seller does not accept your offer. Remember there are plenty of other condos available. Persistence is key when it comes to house hunting.
When you finally move into your new condo, consider hiring a professional moving company. Getting set up in a new home can be stressful and movers can help smooth the process out so you can start enjoying your condo more quickly.
Introduce yourself to your new neighbors and even invite them to a house warming party once you get settled in. It's a great way to meet new people and begin adjusting to life as a condo-owner.