Condo buying heats up when the weather warms up in Florida. Whether you’re buying a condo for your permanent residence, a vacation home, or a real estate investment, there are some things you should know before signing any contract.
Make Sure you Compare Amenities
When buying a condo, it’s important to look at the amenities as they’ll help make your life more enjoyable. Different communities will offer different things, like a:
- Golf course
- Country club
- Tennis court
Always Read all the Condo Documents
Homeowner’s associations govern condos. You must abide by their legal documents which tell you how you can use your property and any of the area’s common areas. This is why it’s important for you to truly scrutinize these documents before buying a condo, especially if you’re a part time resident or buying an investment property. Other things that you’ll find information about here include:
- Vehicle restrictions
- Rental restrictions
Based on what you read here, you’ll know whether this community is right for you. According to Floridian law, you’ll have 3 days to review these documents when buying an existing property and 15 days when buying new construction. It’s a good idea to have an attorney look at them too so you know you’ll be happy and in compliance.
Inquire About Owner / Renter Percentage
Mortgages and future resales are based on the ratio of owners vs. renters. Sometimes you’ll even be charged a higher interest rate or find that you don’t have as many people interested in buying your property so your sales price is negative impacted.
Learn About Special Assessments – Past, Present, and Proposed
Look at the current and projected budget to see if you should expect a special assessment to be levied. This also demonstrates how well an association manages its finances.
Scrutinize the Condo’s Legal Health
Besides special assessments you should also consider an association’s legal battles when buying a condo. While these issues shouldn’t complicate things for you, but it’s still a good idea to have a lot of information about the neighborhood you’re buying into.
Compare Association Fees
When comparing properties, make sure you don’t forget to also compare association fees. Besides the monthly cost, look at what the money is being used for (e.g. maintenance, utilities, management). This will show you how desirable the property is when it comes to resale.
Know Who’s Responsible for Paying for What
Be aware of your financial ongoing obligations, including both the interior and exterior maintenance costs. Make sure you understand the details and limitations of any interior maintenance fees that are included in your association fees. Also find out who’s responsible for “big ticket” items on the exterior of your condo (e.g. roofing, landscaping, lawn maintenance).
Inquire About Management
Before buying a condo learn if it’s professionally or “self” managed. Professionally managed is better because it means that things will be taken care of in a consistent, professional, unbiased, and timely manner because you’re not relying on volunteers. You should also read the association’s most recent meeting minutes to learn about any ongoing issues or complaints. Too many negative issues is a sign of poor management.
Talk to People About the Community
Once you narrow your choices down to a few options, consider speaking with a resident to get their opinion about the community – what they love and what they hate. Obviously, more than one opinion is best. You should also make sure you have the right realtor on your side. For this, we highly recommend Clearwater Beach Real Estate. They’ve helped many people happily find their piece of island property and make a successful move to their new condo. You should be next!