Is Condo Living for You?

The in last 10 years several condominium complexes have been built in the area.  It is important to know what the difference between a condominium and a townhome.  A townhome you own outright, the land under it and everything on the land.  With this form of ownership comes the responsibility for all of the maintenance, repairs, landscaping and general upkeep of the property.  A townhome may be part of an association that maintains any common areas and signage etc.  In order to do that, a small monthly or annual fee is charged to pay for these services.

A condominium is very different.  When you take title, you own your unit only (basically the drywall in).  The association owns everything else and is responsible for all of the maintenance and repairs of the building, common areas and landscaping as well as the insurance on the property.   The fees on a condominium are usually much more since so much more is provided and maintained by the association.  The more amenities (pools, tennis, weight rooms, clubhouse, concierge, etc.,)  the more the fees will be.  These fees are usually paid on a monthly basis.  This can make for a carefree lifestyle since your personal responsibilities are fewer.   This can be a wonderful ownership solution for people that have no interest or time to take care of many of the responsibilities that come with ownership.

This different form of ownership requires special financing alternatives.  Many but not all lenders offer financing on condominiums.  Be sure to ask your lender if you are considering a condominium that he/she offers financing on condominiums.  If they do not, they or your Realtor will be able to guide you to a lender that can help you. 

Another consideration when considering condominium ownership will be the financial strength of the association.  Be sure to ask for the financial statements of the association.  Make sure they are financially sound.  As a part of the association’s duties, they should be collecting and holding funds in reserves from the dues that will pay to do things like replace the roof, painting etc, when the time comes to replace or repair the items it is responsible for maintaining.  When the association is managing and reserving monies for these items, it should prevent the owners from being assessed large amounts when the repairs are due.  Talk with the company managing the association.  Carefully review the condominium documents that will be provided to you.  These documents will be very specific as to what will be required of you and the association.   You will have 3 days if you are buying a resale (excluding holidays and Saturday and Sunday) after receiving the documents to review them and cancel or rescind your contract if you desire to do so.

Condominiums are not necessarily high rise buildings in the downtown area.  They may be part of a very large complex resembling an apartment complex or they might be a series of one story duplexes and everything in between.  Condominiums come in many different sizes and price ranges, (everything from penthouses downtown to one or two bedroom homes.)