There are pros and cons to condominiums

by: COURTESY PHOTO: NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS - Getting along with neighbors is always important, but particularly in a condominium development where amenities (and responsibilities) are often shared. If you’re about to sell your house, a condominium can be a charming choice for a new home. Condos are often less costly to purchase than houses or townhouses, and they can offer conveniences you might not otherwise be able to afford. Yet there are caveats to condo ownership, too.

Here are some things to think about before buying a condo, courtesy of the National Association of Realtors.

1. You don’t own the land

A condo is a building consisting of multiple apartments that are individually owned. Each owner contributes to the cost and upkeep of the exterior structure and any common areas and amenities. Condo owners do not hold title to the land on which the structure sits.

2. Condos offer convenience

For the homebuyer, the advantages of condos are many. In some built-up neighborhoods, condos may be the only available option for homebuyers, or the most practical given their proximity to shopping centers and work. Condo communities also may offer amenities that you may not otherwise be able to afford if purchasing a townhouse or stand-alone house, such as pools, play areas or tennis courts. Additionally, condos can relieve you of the need to manage the building maintenance and any amenities. Some interior issues, such as plumbing and electricity, may be managed by the complex’s community association.

3. Built-In social network

Socially, condos can be great for singles, couples and families. Your proximity to your neighbors and shared access areas means greater opportunities for you to meet new people.

You’re likely to have less privacy, however, with neighbors in close proximity, sharing walls and building access. Neighbors might be able to hear your conversations or the music you play, while watching the movements you and others make to and from your condo unit. Before buying, check to see that the other condo owners are friendly and seem likely to be people with whom you would get along.

4. Calculate costs

Condos are often cheaper than townhouses or stand-alone houses, as use of the available space has been maximized, with many condos built on a piece of land. However, in a declining market, condos can be more difficult to sell if the condominium community association is difficult to deal with or the association fees are high.

Some associations can be politicized and hold you accountable for any perceived infringement of rules. Most associations will impose fees for building maintenance, whereas in another type of home you pay for expensive renovations or maintenance projects at a time when you can afford them. Look at the minutes of the community association’s meetings to see if there are outstanding maintenance issues that are likely to be expensive. Also, obtain a copy of the building’s certificate of insurance and see if building development costs will be covered.

5. Don’t rush to a decision

When considering a condo purchase, take your time to look at the building. Do you like its size? Is it in the right neighborhood? Is the building properly maintained and are the amenities to your liking? Be wary if there are many condos for sale in the building. This could mean that there is a high level of dissatisfaction with the building and living conditions. On the other hand, you may find a condominium that has everything you want in a home with the added conveniences of reduced maintenance and a network of new friends.

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