How to Get Information about a Condo You are Considering Buying

Condos are everywhere, and, for good reason. Many years ago, homebuyers wanting to live in a specific location, typically one in high-demand, only had expensive options. Most were single property residences, offering great location, but, at a steep cost. Condominium communities changed that, offering highly desired locations, but, spreading the cost out over many owners.

Because of the number of units, homebuyers now have access to affordable living in locations that are on or near the beach. However, it’s important to understand that condos are quite different from single family homes. Firstly, the term condominium isn’t a description of the property, but rather, a legal term for a type of ownership. Single family homes are typically “fee simple,” but, condos differ because owners are buying a percentage of the community.

If you’re considering a condo purchase, you should know as much as possible before you commit. Of course, that means having to get information on the community, which you can do through the following sources:

● The homeowner’s association. Contact the HOA directly, or, the property management company. Request a copy of the association Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs), and, the bylaws. These two documents will state what is and what isn’t permitted in the community, and, how the board operates. You’ll learn quite a bit about the community through these documents, including owner rules, access to amenities, and more.
● Local court records. Search the local clerk of court’s office online database for any lawsuits involving the community and/or residents (you can find owner names by searching property tax records). You’re looking for any civil actions filed against the HOA, or, property management company filed by residents.
● Local property tax records. Search this database to learn about property tax rates, and, what you can expect to save under homestead exemption. You’ll also learn the age of the community from this source.
● Residents currently living in the community. One of the most helpful sources of information will be current unit owners. Speak with as many as you are able to learn what they most like and dislike, about the community.
● Your real estate professional. Of course, your buyer’s representative will likely know about the community. Be sure to ask for a comparative market analysis to learn the true market value of the unit you’re interested in buying. You’ll also want to know about the listing’s history and any price changes, along with it’s days on the market.

In addition, you can contact the HOA to learn the number of vacant units. This is important because the higher the percentage, the less likely lenders are to approve financing.