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How to Buy a Condo: A Step-By-Step Guide

Thinking about buying a condo? Condo living is easier than living in a single-family home in some ways, but finding the right condo can be complicated. Check out our guide and hire an experienced local agent to help find the right home for you and your family.
Thinking about buying a condo? Condo living is easier than living in a single-family home in some ways, but finding the right condo can be complicated. Check out our guide and hire an experienced local agent to help find the right home for you and your family.

When in search of a new home in an area where a single-family home is far too expensive, buying a condo is a smart option. Since the 1880s, it’s been a great way to own a home in a densely populated city and, in more recent decades, it’s a good way to get a piece of oceanfront property for a low price. Buying a condo differs from buying a single family home, since they are all tied up with homeowners associations that manage how they’re run.

With the help of an experienced local agent, you can get a great deal on a home in an ideal location. If you work with an agent who knows the local market well, you can end up in your dream home with all the amenities you need. Here’s what you need to know to find the right condo.

Why Buy a Condo?

If you’re looking to move into a densely populated urban area or a popular seaside destination, it will be hard to find a single-family home. The most sought after properties will usually be in large apartment buildings. In most locations, you can own your apartment or condo and receive the benefits of owning a valuable asset.

Some condos take the form of small townhouses or row houses that are located in a popular area with high property value. This makes homeownership possible in a region where owning a home would otherwise be prohibitively expensive.

When you own a condo, you own the living space while the common areas are collectively owned by the owners of the various condos. There is usually a board of residents and owners who make decisions about what happens in the building. In most cases, decisions are managed by majority vote.

How To Find a Condo

Searching for a condo isn’t much different from seeking a home in whatever region you’re looking to invest in. You want to do the research necessary, come up with your list of must-haves, and find an experienced local agent who can help you.

Researching an area is as straightforward as using your preferred search engine. The name of the town followed by “crime statistics,” “school rankings,” or “nightlife” will give you insight into what it’s like to live in that area. Look at a few different and unrelated sources to get the broadest information.

Next, you need to have a list of the things important to you as a homeowner. If you don’t want to live next to loud neighbors, young families, or older people who might complain about your noise, you need to do some research for which condo is best for you. While there aren’t any condos that are specifically marketed at any demographic, there are communities that cater to people at different stages of their life.

Once you have your must-have list of what you’re looking for in a condo, it’s time to find an experienced local agent to help. When you use an agent who knows the market right in your backyard, you ensure that you invest in a condo that’s going to return value to you. Work with an agent who provides you with a no-obligation comparative market analysis so you make your decision based on hard data.

Evaluating a Condo

One of the biggest concessions people make when living in a condo is on privacy. Sharing a wall with a neighbor might not be ideal for most people. However, there are so many benefits you might forget about that downside quickly.

Condo owners never have to worry about the maintenance of the building they live in. Heating, cooling, electrical, and plumbing systems are by and large managed by the homeowner’s association. Cost is shared between everyone, which makes maintenance and repairs relatively inexpensive.

When you’re evaluating a condo, you need to look into the overall management of the association. Ask for records, which should be easy to get in a well-run association, and look at the bank statements for any unreasonable charges. Make sure they also have a savings account to pay for big-ticket issues.

Every association has its own bylaws and management documents, so take some time to look at these. If there’s a ban on pets and you’re about to move with your beloved family dog, you may have to look elsewhere. You should also ask whether the association is engaged in any kind of litigation that could jeopardize your ownership or drag you into some kind of legal battle.

How To Buy a Condo

Start off your purchasing journey by meeting up with the homeowner’s association. The president of the association should be open to sitting down with you. They should also welcome you to one of their meetings.

Pay attention to how they resolve issues and how they take their meeting minutes. Accountability is important, as you’ll be paying money into an account they have control and dominion over. Ask how often fees have increased and whether there are any major repairs planned.

Once you’ve found a place you feel good about, it’s time to apply for a mortgage loan. The lender will look at the condo association themselves to decide whether to offer a loan to you. They want to know that there’s adequate insurance coverage, a high occupancy rate, and no major lawsuits.

If the association doesn’t meet the lender’s requirements, you may be denied no matter how good your own application looks. Sometimes, lenders charge a higher interest rate for a condo than a single-family residence, so weigh your options carefully.

Buying a Condo is Easier With the Right Agent in Your Corner

When you’re hunting for the perfect condo, an experienced local agent can make the process simple and painless. Finding a home that ticks off all of your boxes is easy for someone who knows the market well. With the help of a Clever Partner Agent, you can qualify for a $1,000 rebate or 1% on the cost of any home over $500,000.

Contact us today to connect with an agent who knows where the best condos in your region can be found.


Reuven Shechter

Reuven Shechter is the Outreach Coordinator at Clever Real Estate, the free online service that connects you with top real estate agents to help save on commission. He spreads the word about Clever, disseminating studies to journalists and developing relationships with media outlets. Reuven is passionate about investing in real estate and creating lasting success for families. His writing has been featured in Max Real Estate Exposure, Leverage Marketing, and more.

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