Whether you’re a first-time buyer hoping to buy a starter home, or a downsizer looking for a fresh start, a condo could be just what you need. Here are four questions you can ask as you tour condos with your REALTOR®.
1. What are the HOA fees? How is the budget spent?
Homeowners associations (HOA) can be a plus for condo owners who don’t want to arrange for trash pick-up or worry about cleaning the carpet in communal hallways. But it’s important to remember that HOA fees are technically a part of your housing cost, and they should be considered when you are determining your budget.
When inquiring about your HOA fees, be sure to ask how the budget is allocated and who controls the purse strings. If the building is 10 to 20 years old, for example, experts recommend that 25 to 30 percent of the incoming fees be earmarked for future major repairs.
2. What are the HOA rules and regulations, and the perks or community resources?
Every homeowners association is different, so be sure to ask if the condo:
- Allows pets
- Has regulations about upkeep of private property (including balconies)
- Requires that your unit be owner occupied
- Charges fines — and what fines are most common
On the other hand, condos can have plenty of perks. Ask if your condo has:
- A pool, Jacuzzi or sauna
- Tennis courts or a community gym
- Indoor or outdoor party rooms
- A community-gardening area
3. Has the unit been sound-proofed?
This may seem silly, but it seems the no. 1 complaint of condo owners is that they can hear their neighbors’ comings, goings and everything in between. Be sure to inquire about any sound-proofing that has been done to the space and ask to speak with other owners about their experiences. You may even find it’s worth your while to ask neighbors to turn on their TVs at a regular volume, or the upstairs neighbors to walk across their property, to see if the transmitting sound would be too much to handle.
4. Is there parking and storage available?
While almost all condos (especially complexes) offer parking, it’s important to ask if you get a complimentary parking spot or if you’ll have to pay for parking. Be sure to check out the parking in person. The difference between covered parking and underground parking may not seem like much in May, but it’ll be a game-changer when winter rolls around. Plus, a separate building may mean additional property taxes.
Last, consider any larger items you have, like bicycles, skis, luggage, camping equipment and more. Ask if the condo comes with a private storage space (they are often located in the parking garage or a basement) and be sure to check out the storage in person to see if it matches your needs.
Ready for a condo?
The questions above are just a few of the important factors you should consider when buying a condo. Learn more about condos for sale in Minneapolis and St. Paul, or reach out today to get put in touch with a condo expert who can help you on the path to homeownership.
For even more buyer tips, follow #BuyerInsights on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.