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Home > Home Buying Tips > Buying a Condo

Buying a Condo: Step-By-Step Guide


Are you thinking about home ownership but going green at the thought of upkeep and repairs? Does the idea of private living in a group environment appeal to you? If you're looking to own property but not liking the thought of a traditional home, why not consider buying a condo?

The process to buy a condo is unique and sometimes complicated. Some facets of it, like the mortgage process, are similar to the process required for buying a single family home; but there the similarities end. The guide below will take you through the condo-buying process step-by-step. Our goal is to make your road to condo ownership a little smoother.

How to buy a Condo?

So you've decided to buy. Good for you! The problem is, finding the right condo might be harder than you think. If you're unfamiliar with condos, you might think they're all alike- but that's far from the truth. Check out condos in the area where you'd like to live, and make sure to ask all of the important questions.

  • What condo amenities are offered?
    Some of the main benefits of condo life come from the extras that are thrown in. Some condos have gyms; others have swimming pools, saunas, and rooftop party areas. The condo you buy should have amenities that you're truly likely to use. Keep in mind that regardless of whether or not you log time in the gym, you're going to be paying for the equipment.

  • How does the Home Owner's Association (HOA) operate?
    Condos are run on a group mentality, where all condo owners in the complex meet regularly to make decisions regarding the building and its upkeep. You might not be interested in attending the condo meetings, and that's perfectly fine. However, you should look into how the current meetings are conducted and what types of developments are in store for the general area. You should also investigate how restrictive HOA rules may be- some associations have strict rules regarding everything from holiday decorations to paint colors to plastic lawn flamingos.

  • Investigate daily annoyances
    Although condo owners have more control and responsibility over their homes than apartment dwellers do, there are still certain things that are out of your control. Check out soundproofing between units. Investigate the parking situation. Ask current tenants if they run into maintenance issues and whether they can get them fixed in a reasonable amount of time.

  • Check out the condo reserve funds
    All condos have a reserve fund that owners contribute to each month. This fund pays for general upkeep and maintenance on the building as a whole. There should be a good-sized reserve to protect you (and your pocketbook) against any emergencies.

Buying a Condo

This is the part where buying a condo becomes an awful lot like any other home purchase. You must secure a mortgage through a lender, and the rate you get will depend on your credit history, income, and past rental history or home purchases.

There is one major difference between financing a condo and financing a single family home. You might be under the impression that buying a condo will save you the cost of maintaining a home. This isn't true. What it does save you is the actual maintenance work.

When you purchase a condo, the price you pay for it covers a laundry list of services of which you might not be aware. Make sure to look into the purchase price of your condo and see what services are included in the cost- and what ones you'll be expected to cover yourself in the future. Repairs, staff salaries, utilities, garbage collection, insurance, and lawn care are just a few examples of the kinds of things condo owners are paying for.

So the truth is that buying a condo won't necessarily be any less expensive than purchasing a home. You're still considered a property owner, and as such you're responsible for all the usual things that go with it. The benefits of a condo lie not in the costs, but in the convenience.

If you're dealing with empty nest syndrome and like the idea of living in a community atmosphere, then a condo may be for you. If you're ready to own but hate the idea of an entire house to take care of, consider a condo.

There are all sorts of reasons to buy a condo. Whatever your reason, make sure you're doing it the right way and that you find the right one. After all, it's your future home!


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