Buyer Tip: Questions to Ask When Buying a Condo

Even if you have owned a home before, buying a condominium is a whole different ball game. There are lots of benefits to owning a condo vs a private residence if you are looking for lower maintenance living .

There are also major differences that are important to know about. In particular, questions to ask before making a condo purchase.

What I find interesting is that sometimes, the condo fees that cover maintenance etc are almost equal to what you would pay out for someone to maintain your private property. The big difference? You don’t have to remember to call the lawn care person, the snow plow driver, and contractor to do any outside repairs etc. There is something to be said for not having to worry about making those calls and hiring all of the various contractors that maintain a property.

See below for questions to ask when looking at condos for your purchase:

  1. What are the monthly condo fees and what do they cover? ( snow removal, lawn care, etc?) I have sold condos that even include the heat and basic cable as part of the monthly fee which is terrific.

  2. Who is responsible for the following items should they be in disrepair or need replacement?

    • Exterior of building. (siding, paint, roofing, windows, etc)

    • Mechanicals: (furnace, AC Units, hot water tanks, electrical ). Don’t ever assume that these items are covered by the association.

  3. What are the rules and regulations of the community? There should be a “ Rules and Regs” document that the listing agent should have on hand. Do they allow pets? Are there restrictions on renting should you ever decide to move but hold it as an investment property ? Some have restrictions on how many times per calendar year you can rent your condo. This is in protection of the other residents and property value to avoid creating a “ swinging door” scenario where it becomes more of a hotel with guests coming in and out frequently.

  4. Have there been any “ special assessments” on the property ? This can happen if a condo development needs a major repair item ( roof, heating system , etc) and there was not enough money in the reserve account. The residents will be whacked with a “ special assessment” that may need to be paid in full or in quarterly payments.

  5. Ask what the condo complex has in their “ Reserve Fund” . This is important because of what I just mentioned above. If the condos have been there for many years, there should be plenty in reserves unless they just had a major project completed.

  6. How many homeowners are full time residents of the community? What percentage are owned by investors? This is a common scenario in the Berkshires as condo living is very appealing to anyone wanting to “ Fly South” for the winter but enjoy our amazing summer weather . Also a good item to keep in mind if you are someone who likes to have a community of people living around you in the winter. If only 5% of the condo owners are there in the winter, it could feel a bit isolated.

For many, condo living is a great way to go if you are looking for low maintenance or seasonal living in the Berkshires. We have a very nice amount of options for condo communities in the Berkshires at all price points . As always, feel free to reach out to me if you have more questions about this post or if you would like to know more about what we currently have available for condominiums in the Berkshires.

Have a great day!


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