Tips for Buying a Condo
(Condos Offer Many Amenities and Conveniences)
Generally, condominium owners fall into one of three broad categories. One group is people making the move from renting to ownership. A second group is retirees or others looking to switch from high maintenance single-family homes to a lower and shared cost living arrangement. And a third group tends to be people wanting a part-time second home. Of course, there are several other reasons that people prefer condo living such as gaining access to many more amenities by sharing the cost with others.
Styles of Condos
Condos can be large complexes having many owners or smaller properties with few owners. Larger complexes are the most common. There’s good reason for this because it means sharing the cost of more (and better) amenities and property maintenance among more owners. You get more bang for your buck. Swimming pools, fitness rooms, and security are only a few of the perks you can expect with condo living.
Still, your typical condo lifestyle frees you from unwanted tasks such as yard work and common area upkeep that is professionally managed. The common areas are something you want to pay attention to when deciding among the many condo properties available. Condo living is a form of ownership, not a style of construction. Although most are an apartment style property, Atlanta is home to other styles with townhouses being popular.
When considering the condo lifestyle, it’s critical for you to fully explore the amenities offered. These vary from one property to another with cost being a factor of what is available to you. Many feature desirable amenities, such as a pool, fitness room, clubhouse, or similar gathering area that you can reserve for private functions, security, business center, covered parking, maybe concierge service, and more.
- Condos are more affordable, especially in high cost and highly sought after neighborhoods.
- Condos come with tax write offs not available to renters.
- Amenities and the property upkeep are paid through homeowner association fees (HOA). Expensive repairs and upgrades are shared across all owners.
- A professional management company oversees HOA operations. This typically includes collecting and managing finances, holding annual meetings, daily operations, as well as managing complex repairs and upgrades.
- Some condos work towards attracting owners with similar lifestyles or requirements. Perhaps a younger population with more single owners. Others cater mostly to senior living or families. Still others appeal to urban business professionals. And of course, there are fully mixed communities as well as communities appealing to other lifestyles.
- Condos do have rules and restrictions intended to make the community lifestyle a pleasant place for all owners. But as homeowners, the community has the right to change the rules to suit their own needs (something landlords don’t typically tolerate). Most rules apply to the exterior appearance of your home, common area behavior, and almost always noise levels. But no one tells you what color to paint your walls or where you can hang a picture.
What to Learn Before Buying?
For many people, couples, and families, a condo is a better option than a single-family house. The purchase process is mostly the same as for a house. However, there are differences you want to know before making the final decision.
You are subject to HOA Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs). A big part of this is you may have to give up personal preferences in some cases if the owner controlled HOA decides on something else. This can include the level of maintenance you are required to partially pay for or deferring maintenance that you may not agree with. Not only does the homeowner HOA have a right to raise fees, they can also call for special levies or decide to increase reserve funds. Any of this can have an impact on your cost of ownership.
Before making the purchase decision, you want to review all current Community Association By-Laws and Covenants as well as check out the HOA’s history of assessments. One way of doing this is reviewing board meeting minutes. It’s also a good idea to have conversations with several current condo owners. Ask if maintenance is done promptly or if it is often deferred. Also ask how often assessments increase along with the frequency and cost of special levies (and what the special levies where for). Ask about any costs increases that are currently under consideration.
Ultimately, condos range from the extremely affordable to the lavishly luxurious. Whether you are a first-time buyer, looking to downsize for retirement, looking for a second home, or have another reason, you may find that the amenities offered by condominiums make them a desirable and cost effective living choice than a single family home.
If you need more information or have questions, please email us. You can also reach us by calling at (678) 570-8123. We'll be glad to help you!