The art of buying a condo... / by Dan Case

Buying a condo may seem like an easier process than buying a single family home but that's not always the case. Technically speaking when you own a condo you own the right to the "air space" in between the walls. That sounds nice and maintenance free doesn't it?  In a lot of ways it is but before you buy a condo here are a few things to consider and look into. 

1. Get a hold of important Condo Association Documents.

Be sure that your agent builds in time for you to look over documents like the Rules & Regulations, By Laws & Declarations, Financial Statements, Articles of Incorporation, & Insurance Declarations when writing a contract on a condo. There is a lot of valuable information in these documents that you will want to know. These documents will let you know what your condo fee covers and if it's been increased in recent years. A look at the financials may show a dip in reserves as well they could warrant special assessments that you might become liable for. Also you will see what is truly your responsibility, may times things like windows and doors are not covered and would be your responsibility if a repair was needed. Spend the time and read the documents.

2. Get a Home Inspection.

While it may seem that owing a condo will limit your responsibility as a owner there are still major home components that you will be responsible for. Examples of these would be heating & air condition units, kitchen appliances, and electrical & plumbing issues. If the condo has a basement you will also want to get a Radon gas inspection. These are important steps to never skip even thought there is some cost involved in getting the inspections done. Even though many of the structural aspects of the building would be covered by the association there are a lot of items you would responsible for as the owner. 

3. Get information about Financing Options. 

If you need to get a loan for a condo it's important to know a few things about the association that you will be a part of. First of all if a low down payment mortgage is what you are after you must make sure that the condo association in question is FHA approved, if not there are some other low down payment conventional loans available as well. Also you will want to know what percentage of the condo's in the association are rented rather than than owner occupied. Your lender may have specific guidelines and percentages that associations must stay under for your loan to be approved.

All in all owning a condo can be a great experience and in many cases a great investment. Just be sure to do your homework and enlist the help of a Realtor that can guide you step by step in the process. The condo market is heating up in Columbus, OH and in many cases you can be an owner of a condo for the price that you are paying in rent. Let us know if we can help your start a search or answer any questions.