Read the Declaration of the Condominium Before You Buy
By Realtor© Deborah Link
This is a great time to for home ownership! Rates haven’t been this low in many years and now may be the most affordable time to buy that condominium you’ve been thinking about.
It’s time to do that pro’s & con’s list, let’s begin with the most common types of condo’s, apartment like with single floor living or a town home/carriage type lifestyle. Do you like ground floor living or do you want to be on a higher floor, does the condo have steps or an elevator, do you need a garage, some will have garages and some won’t. Let’s not forget the view, will you look onto the parking lot, another building, be on the water or look onto a preserve. Do you prefer more specious living, if so then a townhome situation with more than one floor might better suit your needs?
Condo living has numerous advantages for today’s active life style, there’s no need to worry about lawn care and landscaping, most communities will have a pool, some communities will have hot tubs, play grounds, walking trails, tennis and or golfing, and most will have super fitness centers and a clubhouse where neighbors gather. The common areas will be clean and neat, insurance on the outside of your unit will be taken care of by the association and your quality of life will become carefree and fun. A guarded gated community can provide you and your family with the increased security you desire. If you like to travel, just lock your doors and go!
The amenities provided by an association are valuable considerations that will save you money in the long run. Yes you have to pay a monthly, quarterly or yearly fee to the homeowners association, but consider how much it would cost having to purchase and maintain a pool, pay a lawn service or a yearly gym membership. Some condominium communities may even provide water, sewer, cable and or internet service. Speaking of fees, you can expect that sometime in the future you will be assessed a fee to cover a variety of things like new roofs or maintenance and repair work. Some assessments can be extremely high and unexpected. Also you need to find out if there are any past due assessments which you could be responsible for that the previous owner neglected to pay. Unpaid assessments will be recorded as a lean on your home, second only to the mortgage, and will include legal fees, interest and late fees. As the buyer you are may be responsible for past due assessments and will have to recover the loss yourself from the previous owner forcing you to hire legal counsel. This is only one good example of why you should always use a Realtor when buying a condo, the purchase agreement will address unpaid assessments, and your Realtor can insist in writing that the seller pay all past due assessments at or before closing.
When you choose the condo and are ready to sign a purchase agreement you will have three days to read and accept the “Declaration of the Condominium,” commonly referred to as Condo Docs, also the rules and regulations, frequently asked questions, budget, and the articles of incorporation. If the unit you’re considering is brand new and you’re buying from the builder you will have fifteen days to read and accept the condo docs. If you don’t accept the declaration or just change your mind your purchase agreement will be null and void.
Many buyers will not even take the time to read these documents because they may be five hundred pages or more. Please read these documents carefully because when you buy a condo you agree to abide by and accept the rules and regulations governing you and your unit.
These docs will address the voting and bylaws, issues that will affect how you use and live in your condo. There may be a no pet clause or a weight limit and even breed limit on dogs. For example many associations will not allow pit bulls, rottweilers or chows, just a few of the breeds that may be on the no-no list. The number of pets allowed may also be limited, cats may not be able to wonder freely outside and some will even exclude rodent type pets like rabbits and ferrets. The rules will address renting, whether or not you can rent your unit and the allowable minimum lease requirements, and the pet rules may be different for renters then for you the owner. There could be restrictions on guests, friends and family members using the unit. Parking issues will also be addressed; can you have a motorcycle or scooter, golf cart or pick-up truck, work vehicle, and how many spaces are assigned to you and your guests? On and on it goes, so it’s up to you the buyer to educate yourself on exactly what your homeowners association will expect from you and it will also spell out what you can expect from them. You don’t have to wait until you sign a purchase agreement to have a look at condominium documents, your Realtor can discover and provide you with all the documents you may need well in advance.
An educated buyer is a happy buyer and it’s a Realtors job to make sure you have all the tools you need before you sign on the dotted line.
For more information on Condominiums, please don’t hesitate to call or email me.