detached homes, condos are not for everyone. Judge for yourself
how much the following drawbacks may affect you:
Condominiums offer less privacy. Shared walls mean you can hear
others more easily. Noise pollution is one of the biggest problems
with condos and the one area that prospective condo buyers frequently
overlook. Visit the unit at different times of the day and different
days of the week to listen for noise.
a rule, the fewer common walls you share with neighbors, the more
privacy you have in your unit. That's one reason corner units
sell for a premium. And if your unit is on the top floor, you
won't have people walking on your ceiling.
are legally complex. Prior to buying your condo, you should receive
copies of three extremely important documents -- a Master Deed
or Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs);
the homeowners-association bylaws; and the homeowners-association
budget. Read these documents from cover to cover.
are financially complex. As a prospective owner, check the current
operating budget. Be sure that it realistically covers building
maintenance costs, staff salaries, utilities, garbage collection,
insurance premiums, and other normal operating expenses. How much
is adequate? Three to five percent of the condominium's gross
operating budget is generally considered a minimally acceptable
condominium parking and storage are concerned, the obvious isn't.
For example, does your condo deed include a deeded garage or parking
space that only you can use, or is parking on a "first come,
first served" basis? Are there extra charges for parking,
or is parking included in the monthly dues? Are there provisions
for guest parking? Do you have a deeded storage area located outside
of your unit? If you need even more storage, is any available
and how much does it cost? Get answers to these questions before
rather than after you buy.
older buildings that have been converted into condominiums have
outdated heating and cooling systems and may lack elevators. Find
out whether utilities are individually metered or lumped into
the monthly homeowners association dues. Does your unit have a
thermostat to control its heating and air conditioning, or is
it centrally controlled?
utilities are included in the monthly dues, other condo owners
have no incentive to economize by moderating their use of heat
or air conditioning. If you're frugal, you'll just end up subsidizing
owners who aren't. By the same token, in a building with central
heating and cooling, your climate choices may be limited.
Don't buy into a small condominium complex unless you enjoy intimate
relations with your neighbors. In a small condo, you actively participate
in the homeowners association because you must. Every vote has an
immediate impact on your finances and the quality of your life.
Next Step: Understanding Co-ops
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