Key Tips for First-Time Condo Buyers
If you’re getting ready to buy a home, it’s essential to do your research and be as strategic as possible. In particular, if you plan to purchase a condo, there are specific factors to investigate.
This property type is a little different from a traditional house or unit, so you need to know all the ins and outs. Here are some tips for any first-time condo buyers getting ready to take the plunge this year.
Work Out if a Condo Suits Your Needs
Buying a condo might sound like the perfect idea in your head, but before you go too far down this road, analyze the decision. Will a condo suit your specific needs? Does this type of property work well for your lifestyle, budget, future plans, etc.? Do you have a pet or want to get one in the coming years? If so, will a condo allow this, and will you have enough space for an animal in the abode?
Keep in mind, too, that in general, condos appreciate more slowly than individual properties. If you think you could need to move again in only a couple of years, you may not be able to make any profit from the property if you sell it in this short timeframe.
Something else to consider is that condos can be noisier when you share walls, floors, and ceilings with people living in nearby apartments. If you’re sensitive to noise, a light sleeper, or work from home, this may be of particular concern.
On the other hand, condos can be the perfect property choice for homebuyers who don’t have the time or interest in handling gardening and home maintenance tasks. Condo owners don’t have to worry about lawn mowing, trimming hedges, raking leaves, pressure-washing driveways, cleaning roofs, clearing gutters, and so on. They can relax knowing these jobs are taken care of, although they do get charged as a condo fee component.
Another plus to remember with condos is that they often come with other included services and facilities, such as doormen and women, pools, gyms, and barbecue areas. Think about what you want out of your new home and if a condo will suit these needs today and in the future.
Get Assistance from a Realtor
As a potential first-time condo buyer, it pays to get help from a realtor specializing in this kind of property. Choose someone who has assisted a large number of clients in the past to buy and sell condos, so you know you’re working with a real estate agent with experience on both sides of these transactions.
The right person will be able to walk you through the unique terms and conditions that can come with condo properties and all the association documents. They may know details about acrimony in different buildings in recent years. Plus, they can fill you in on sales history about developments and neighborhoods to help you make an informed decision.
Look into Finance Options
Finance is vital for most buyers. You’ll likely need a loan to buy a property, yet be aware that not all lenders approve loans for condos. Before you get your hopes up about a particular unit, speak with banks and other financial institutions to determine their individual rules around these property types. And of course, a downpayment for a condo unit is a major consideration as well. The minimum downpayment varies depending on the total purchase price, so make sure to discuss this with your realtor.
Some lenders scrutinize each condo building separately to determine whether or not to approve a loan, in addition to having the standard mortgage underwriting criteria related to things like a person’s income, assets, and credit rating. Your preferred lender may not approve a loan for the property you want to buy, so have multiple companies on your shortlist that you can approach if the first falls through.
Check Into the Finer Details
Don’t sign on the dotted line before checking into all the finer details involved in a transaction. Many factors come into play with condos that can cause issues down the line if you don’t consider them upfront. For example, there are association fees and rules that homeowners have to pay and abide by, and different inclusions with different condos. If you need parking and additional storage space, learn if this comes with the apartment or not, and if so, at what price. Ask about on-site facilities, too, and who has access to them and when.
Another element is insurance and warranty. Some things will be covered in the condo’s fees already, such as building insurance, but you may also want to add extra cover. It pays to investigate areas such as what is a home warranty, and what does it include? (Home warranties typically cover maintenance and repair work on components in appliances that arise over time.) Signing up for these products can help reduce your risk of having expensive, unexpected costs to pay on top of your mortgage.
Buying a condo for the first time is exciting yet also daunting. It’s a big commitment and might be the largest purchase you ever make. Consider all the factors mentioned above to ensure you go into the process with your eyes wide open.