Points to consider when planning to purchase a Condo
There are various factors that you must consider when starting your Condo search. These factors include:
- Are you planning to Finance your purchase or will you be a Cash Buyer? Note that, in 2009, Lenders began requiring Condos to meet certain criteria before they approve Financing for a purchase in the building. Many Buildings do not meet the criteria for Financing, and, in those cases, Cash purchases are the only ones allowed. If you're planning to Finance your purchase, this item needs to be considered at the beginning of your search because appropriate properties might not be available for you (review additional details here).
- Will your purchase be a Cash purchase? If not, have you obtained Financing Approval and, if so, for what amount? If you are planning to obtain a Mortgage, your first step BEFORE starting your Home search needs to be the application for Financing so that you can determine with certainty which price range to search and to determine with certainty that you actually qualify for a Loan to Finance a purchase in your desired price range.
- Maximum price you're willing to pay.
- Note that if you're a Buyer who's approved for FHA Financing and you're planning to purchase within a Community Governed by an Association, such Communities will need to be ones that are approved to accept Buyers with FHA Financing. Most Condo Communities have not applied for FHA Approval and do not meet FHA criteria, in which cases, will have to be eliminated from consideration in your Housing search. Some Townhouse Communities qualify for FHA purchases but again, ALMOST ALL CONDOS DO NOT QUALIFY FOR FHA PURCHASES.
- Do you have a sufficient Down payment? Except for FHA Financing which allows a Down payment of only 3.5%, most purchases in our current market require a minimum downpayment of 20%.
- Note that you will be required to apply for and receive Approval by the Association prior to occupancy (typically, most Associations also require a face-to-face Interview as part of the approval process).
- Your timeframe for purchase
- City or Cities that you're interested in
- Number of Bedrooms and Baths
- Unit size (square feet)
- Your Age (there are Buildings that require at least one of the unit's Residents to be age 55+)
- Type of Floorplan (Split Floorplan, Open Floorplan, etc.)
- Interior or exterior Hallways? (Units accessed from inside of the Building vs. Units that are accessed from an outside Catwalk)
- Building Age (are you comfortable with both new and old buildings?)
- Do you require Amenities? If so, which Amenities? Examples include: Gated Community, Restaurant, 24/7 Valet, Concierge, Full-time Security Staff, Monitored Security Cameras, Bar, Swimming Pool(s), Hot Tub(s), Hair Salon, Tanning Salon, Nail Salon, Fitness Facility, Spa, Key Operated Elevators, Library, Conference Room, Business Center, Garage Parking, on-Site Management, Security, Private Elevator to your Unit, Full-service Staff, Tennis, Indoor Basketball Court, Media Room, Wine Room, Cigar Room, Pest Control, Putting Green, Cabanas, Storage Facilities, Vehicle Washing, Social Activities, etc.
- Condos require payment of a monthly Maintenance Fee that includes/covers the Building Amenities, Maintenance of the Building, and Exterior Building Insurance. What is the maximum amount you would like to pay monthly? There is a VERY wide range in the amount required to be paid in various buildings.
- Do you prefer High rise buildings (higher than 10 Floors) or low rise buildings (less than 10 Floors)?
- View from your Unit (Pool, Garden, Parking Lot, City Skyline, Ocean, River, Ocean Access Canal, Intracoastal?)
- Would you like your unit to be located on a high floor or a low floor?
- Unit condition (New, Updated, or not Updated/Remodeled?)
- Washer and Dryer in the Unit (Some Units have a Washer and Dryer insider of the Unit and some Buildings only offer Laundry Rooms and do not allow the installation of Washers and Dryers in individual units)
- Do you have Pets? What size Pets? Cats, Dogs, Birds, Snakes, etc.? (There are many buildings that do not allow Pets or restrict their size and type--some only allow Pets that weigh under 20 pounds). Also keep in mind that some Buildings restrict the ownership of certain Pet Breeds (for example, some do not allow Pit Bulls or other Breeds that they have classified as "Dangerous").
- Leasing allowed? (Some Buildings do not allow Owners to Lease their Units and some that do allow Owners to Lease their Units do not allow Leasing to be done immediately and require a waiting period of 1 or 2 years of Ownership before the Unit may be Leased). Additionally, Associations that allow Owners to Lease usually specify the length of Leases that are allowed (some examples include 1 Lease per Year for a minimum of 365 days, 2 Leases per year for a minimum of 6 months per Lease, 3 Leases per year for a minimum of 90 days per Lease, etc.)
- Do you require Garage Parking or is uncovered parking acceptable?
- A unit's Floor location (High Floor or Low Floor?)
- Which type of Flooring do you prefer? (Tile, Marble, Carpet, Limestone, etc.)
- Which type of Counter finishes do you prefer in the Kitchen? (Granite, etc.)
- Building's Common Areas (Are the Lobby, Hallways, and other Common areas "high end "or basic in appearance and what do you prefer?)
- Type of Windows in the Unit (i.e. Full length windows that offer better views, Hurricane Impact Windows that withstand Winds up to 200 MPH and negate the necessity for Hurricane Shutters)
Factors that can affect the amount that you will pay for your monthly or quarterly Maintenance Fee include, but aren't limited to:
- The types of Amenities offered (see #10 above). Luxury and more Amenities equal higher Maintenance Fee.
- The building's type of waterfront location (see #6 below)
- The number of on-site Staff and the services they provide (see #10 above). More Staff = higher Maintenance Fee. It takes a lot of Staff to efficiently maintain a Building that offers many Amenities.
- Contribution to the Building's Reserves
- The types of Maintenance offered (i.e. Maintenance of Pool, Lawn, Parking area, Roof, Elevators, and Building exterior, interior, and common areas, Trash Removal, Sewer, and Pest Control, etc.)
- The price of Property Insurance (Property Insurance is higher in Waterfront Ocean access Buildings than non-Waterfront Buildings). The cost of Property Insurance as related to the type of Waterfront relates to the risk factor of Building damage from Floods, Hurricanes, etc. All properties located within areas determined to be in higher risk areas have higher Property Insurance. Properties that are located inland/farther away from the Water OR not in a Flood zone at all have lower Insurance rates. All Ocean access Waterfront Buildings are in areas that are at higher risk for flooding or other water-related Weather damage, so have higher Insurance rates. In comparing the amounts of Property Insurance as related to various types of Waterfront Condos in our area, Oceanfront Condos are at highest risk, Intracoastal are next highest, then Riverfront, then those that are located on Ocean access Canals.
The condition of a Building also affects its' Insurance rate. 2 examples of items that reduce damage risk and Insurance include new Roofs and Hurricane Impact Windows. Condos that were built after 2005 were required to comply to a new Building Code that requires the installation of Hurricane Impact Windows. Additionally, there are older Buildings that have updated to meet the new Code and have replaced all of their Windows.
- Utilities that could be included such as Basic Cable Service or Water
- The size of your unit (the Fee is priced per square foot and larger units pay more than smaller units)
- The number of Units in the Building
If you're planning to purchase a Waterfront Condo, additional items to consider include the following:
- A Building's type of Waterfront location (Oceanfront, Riverfront, Ocean Access Canal, Intracoastal front)
- Availability of Dockage (Docks available or not available, Deeded Docks/private docks available for some units, or a Community Dock available for all)
- A unit's type of Waterfront view within the building (the best waterfront views are offered at premium prices). Corner units and those with unobstructed waterfront views are popular and have great resale value (a fact to consider if you're planning to sell the Unit in the future). Higher Floors with Waterfront views typically offer the best and most sought after views, so are usually priced higher than units located on lower Floors.
- Condo Maintenance Fees
- Condo Property Insurance
- Fannie Mae approved Condos
- Decorator Ready Condos
- Property Taxes
- How to obtain Condo Documents (Financials, Rules and Regulations, etc.)
If you would like my assistance with your Condo search and would like to customize your search, please consider the items above and contact me so that I can identify appropriate listings to send for your review.
(Fields marked with * are required.)