Is condo life right for you?

Buying a condo instead of a single-family home offers first-time buyers, urban dwellers and empty nesters many advantages, including less maintenance, access to amenities, often a desirable location and, of course, a lower price tag.

Not all condo associations or boards are created equal, so you should definitely research the property. Here are a few things you should consider when buying a condo or a townhome.

Governance – Find out how the homeowners association (HOA) makes decisions about finances, use of common property and enforcement of bylaws. It’s also a good idea to learn what your voting rights would be as a property owner.

Property Management – Determine if the property is managed by the homeowners or by a third-party management company.

Bylaws – Determine if there are any rules and regulations that you may not be able to comply with. Common bylaws include pets, noise, parking, use of amenities, maximum occupants, age restrictions, unit rental and alteration of the unit space.

Finances – Review the financial statements and annual operating budget to determine if there are adequate reserve funds set aside for future repairs and building maintenance.

Building Condition – In addition to having the unit inspected, assess the overall building and common property. Often the property management company will be able to provide a technical audit that details current conditions and anticipated repairs.

HOA Fees – Review what is included in the HOA fees. Ask if there have been any special assessments, which could signal construction issues or poor financial management.

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