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Purchasing any kind of new home can be stressful. No matter if you’re buying a house, an apartment, or a condo, they all have their benefits and drawbacks. If you’re new to condos especially, it’s tough to decide if they’re right for you without some background information. There’s a lot out there about the pros and cons of condos, and it can be difficult to get all of that content straight, which is why we’ve put together this list. We’ve included 10 things you should know about buying a condo, so you can enter into the decision well-informed:

1). Shared Responsibility

t’s important to know that when you purchase a condo, you’ll be sharing the responsibility of upkeep with the homeowners association. Usually, this is what draws people to condos, since important things like repairs and upgrades to your condo’s exterior are taken care of by the association. In most cases, condos also mean you don’t have to mow your lawn or worry about landscaping. Additionally, shared responsibility for the condo also means shared insurance costs, which can be a big benefit for many.

2). Cheaper Insurance

Since a condo association’s overall policy usually covers structural parts of a condominium, insurance rates for condo owners are generally much more affordable than homeowners of single family dwellings. However, this does depend on the insurance policy that the condo association has, so it’s important to ask about the association’s policy before you even consider purchasing a condo. It’s also a good idea to talk to your insurance agent before you make any big decisions, so you know what kind of break you’ll be getting on your own insurance policy.

3). More Affordable

In many areas, especially cities where housing is in high demand, it can be simply impossible to purchase a single family home. Generally, condos offer a more affordable option for the exact same location. A three bedroom condo can be thousands of dollars cheaper than a three bedroom home in the same area. If there’s a specific area where you’re trying to find housing, a condo is likely the more budget-friendly option.

4). Real Estate Agent Required

Some people assume that if they’re going to buy a condo, there’s no need to have a real estate agent. However, you’re still making a very big purchase, and you need to have some advice from a third party expert who has experience matching condo buyers with condo sellers. An experienced real estate agent will be able to give you more information on a condo that’s suited to your needs, and they’ll be able to steer you away from condos that don’t have the best reviews.

5). Association Rules

While there are a ton of benefits to condo living, know that you’ll be expected to conform to association rules. It’s a good idea to check these out before you buy a condo, because some associations have extensive requirements. While some just have minor rules about when your trash can needs to go out, others require you to turn down the music at a certain time, and even register frequent visitors with security personnel. Make sure you know and can comply with those requirements before you sign up to live there.

6). Additional Fees

While condo living tends to be more affordable than buying a whole home, it’s important to remember that there are other fees that you’ll have to pay in addition to utilities. You won’t have to pay to reroof your home, but you will have to pay association fees. These association fees generally go to things like gate security or lawncare, but you’ll want to make sure you know how much these fees are going to be, so you can factor them into your overall cost before you make a final decision.

7). Reserve Funds 

Any condo association you even consider buying into should have a reserve fund. This fund is used to cover any repairs necessary for general maintenance as well as emergency damages. Make sure that the association has plenty of money in that reserve fund, because if it seems low, that tells you two things: 1) that the association might have poor management, and 2) if a major disaster, like a fire or severe weather hit, the association won’t have the money to cover damages, meaning those expenses would come out of your pocket.

8). HOA Meetings

When you’re looking at a condo, it’s good to know that the condo association that runs it has regular, documented meetings. Before you buy a condo, consider asking for the notes from previous meetings. The notes will give you a legitimate insight into life within the community. Those notes will show any complaints that residents have made, and it will give you an idea of how the association handles conflicts and disputes. It’s a really good way to avoid a hidden dispute or issue that you wouldn’t know about until you moved in.

9). Storage Space 

As you begin to narrow down your options, you should ask about storage. Unless you opt for a townhome version of a condo, you probably won’t have extra storage on site. So if you have a lot of stuff, like bicycles or recreational equipment, you might not have the space for those belongings at your new home. Some condo associations provide extra storage for residents, so it’s important that you ask about it if you think you’ll need more outdoor storage. Otherwise, you may have to rent a storage unit for your other things, which can run up your monthly bills.

10.) Condo Decor

It’s important to remember that the biggest difference between a house and a condo is that you’re essentially sharing ownership of a condo. And sometimes that means you have to make compromises. In a condo, there are likely to be decorative restrictions, both inside and outside. Some condo associations require only white window dressings facing the street, to keep a streamlined look from the outside. Others require you to consult with the board before starting any major renovations. Still others have restrictions on the types of pets you can have. As long as you ask about these restrictions ahead of time, and you know what’s expected of you, there shouldn’t be any issues.

If you think a condo might be the right housing option for you, check out the new Gleneagle condominiums available now! Give us a call at (616) 218-6538, or request more information online today.