What to consider when buying a condo

The condominium market has been rising steadily for the past few years. According to the National Association of REALTORS®, the condo market has regained the momentum and importance it had in the initial condo boom of the 1980s.
Condo buyers fall into three main groups: first-time buyers making the jump from renting; people looking to buy a second home that they will use part-time; and retirees who are trading in high-end homes for the low-maintenance lifestyle a condo provides. A condominium can be a great purchase under the right set of circumstances.

Before you buy a condominium, make sure you understand exactly what is involved in condo living. When purchasing a condo, the owner buys the title to his or her individual unit, up to the walls, but not including them. A common description of a condominium is a “box in the air.”
Rules to live by :
Condominiums are governed by a set of rules called Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&Rs). The rules vary from one condo development to another. They may impose restrictions on pet ownership, noise levels, remodeling projects, and renting. The CC&Rs are enforced by the condo association. It’s a good idea to read the CC&Rs to make sure that you are comfortable with them before you purchase a condominium.
Common Area :
The common areas of the development, such as stairwells, dividing and outer walls, fitness centers and rooftop gardens, are under shared ownership. Each unit owner holds an interest in these spaces. In order to manage the maintenance and repair of the shared common areas, every condo development has a condominium association, also known as a unit-owners’ association. The association is elected by condo owners and makes communal decisions in the interest of the community.
Condo costs include:
• down payment, mortgage and property tax.
• Condo fees, otherwise known as maintenance fees. Condo fees are paid by every resident to help with the maintenance of the building, pay the salaries of groundskeepers, concierges or handymen, and provide luxury facilities such as a pool, gym or rooftop garden. Condo fees are paid monthly and are subject to change.
• Special assessment fees. These fees may be requested when an unexpected repair or planned modification exceeds the cost of the condo fees collected.
Now with the record number of foreclosures, one of the residual points of concern is when condo owner’s dues begin to suffer. When a condominium goes into foreclosure, more than likely the dues for that unit have not been paid for months – long before the property went into foreclosure.
Considering a monthly condo fee of $400, each unit represents $4,800 to the income of the condominium owners association. Now what happens when the condo owners quit paying their fees, then the condo association may face a shortfall such that it will not be able to pay its bills, for instance, pool care, maintenance and utilities.
The association could also begin requiring escrowing three months’ of condo fees to protect the governing body from this type of problem.
Your biggest help can be your professional REALTOR®.

Lonnie Snyder
Keller Williams Realty Southeast Sound
Phone: 206-406-2710
E-Mail : snyder@kw.com
Website: http://www.callsnyder.com/
Blogsite: http://renton-real-estate.blogspot.com/
Lonnie Snyder is a full time real estate agent and REALTOR® with Keller Williams Realty specializing in Residential Real Estate for buyers and sellers in Washington’s Kent, Renton, Newcastle and South Bellevue.

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