What Should You Look for When Buying a Condo?

You'll enjoy a wide range of benefits when living the condo lifestyle. It's like owning a home with none of the hassle and twice as many amenities. Whether you're lounging by the pool or exercising in the fitness center, you can go about your routine without worrying over maintenance or caretaking responsibilities.

That said, finding a great condo in your area isn't as simple as a quick Google search. You'll find some, but their quality will differ. A strategic approach is far more effective, including checking for some of the top indicators of a good condo association.

1. An Appealing Insurance Policy

It's crucial to triple-check a condo association's insurance policy when exploring your options. Some will provide coverage for your personal belongings — convenient for a leaky roof or sudden fire — while others will fail to protect you very much at all. If you have to take out a separate policy, it's another expense you'll need to manage.

Then again, you may feel confused over the language of the policy, and it's often best to bring a copy to your insurance agent to work through the document together. Find out what the policy covers, including the cost to bring the condo up to code if it's an older building. Make sure the estimates to rebuild are accurate.

2. A Reasonable Set of Regulations

You won't have to worry over the strict guidelines of an unfriendly landlord, but you'll still need to comply with the condominium's rules and bylaws. These help to maintain the status quo in the community and aren't inherently restrictive. Even so, you should research the details of the conditions and what you should expect.

Concerning the rules themselves, a condominium association will often dictate the rights of the condo owner. It'll decide how much freedom you have in the space, the power of the association and related subjects. These rules and bylaws are critical to review, so you should scrutinize them thoroughly before signing anything.

3. A Responsible Management Team

As mentioned earlier, the condo lifestyle allows you to enjoy the advantages of owning a home without many of the responsibilities. You delegate tasks like maintenance to someone else. Naturally, you'll want to know about the management team and how they handle the workload.

Before you move forward with your decision, interview the condo manager and ask about their policies regarding maintenance. Some condos are underfunded and can't pay for regular upkeep, so this specific area is a serious concern. It's a good idea to ask your potential neighbors about management as well.

4. A Happy and Inclusive Community

The proximity of your neighbors is one of the most important points to consider when browsing for condos. You won't have the same amount of space as someone living in a suburban neighborhood, and that lack of separation isn't always a good thing. If you don't get along with the people living next to you, it could cause issues later on.

Ask yourself the question, "Would I be happy living here?" as you move from condo to condo. If you sense a community in a particular area is dissatisfied, or it has past or pending litigations, you'll likely want to look elsewhere. Keep searching until you find a place where you feel like you'd fit in.

5. An Attractive Design and Location

You'll have far more freedom when remodeling a condo. If you want to paint the walls, you can, and you won't have to seek the permission of a landlord. Still, it's smart to step back and look at the overall design, the aspects you can change about your new place and the more permanent features you'll need to leave alone.

When you've made the changes you want to make, will you feel comfortable in your new space? Will its aesthetic and location make it attractive enough for an easy sell among similar condos in the area? These are questions you'll need to answer as you evaluate your opportunities.

Buying a Condo in the City

The condo lifestyle has a special appeal, but not all are created equal. You need to set aside time to review all your available options before making a purchase. Only then can you feel confident in your decision and feel secure in the knowledge you've done the necessary research.

Holly Welles is a real estate blogger covering design, finance and market trends for apartment dwellers. You can find more of her work on her blog, The Estate Update.

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