Condos tend to be a great starter purchase for first-time home buyers as well as investors. There are a few things to keep in mind, however.
1. Know EXACTLY what is included with your unit. The sales people always show you that beautiful condo which is staged and perfect. Have you ever noticed they never have dressers and put smaller beds in each room of the model home to make them look open and spacious? Ask for a floorplan of exactly the condo you will be purchasing especially if you cannot actually enter the unit. Each unit, even the same floor plans, can be different even a little (and every contract I have seen states this), but the little change can mean a lot to the flow of the unit and how your furniture may, or may not, fit. If the model had a bookshelf and you want one, make sure that is what you will be getting.
2. Visit the unit at different times of the day and week. The unit close to the pool may seem very appealing. How easy to just pop over after work for a bit of tanning, right? Convenience to things like the pool, the elevator, and parking may seem to be a positive, but if screaming kids, the noise of an elevator going up and down, or cars starting and pulling in early in the morning and late at night will bother you, you might want to consider a different location. Also visit later in the evening on the weekends. If you have a party animal nearby, you might want to pass on that purchase.
3. Consider when the building was built. Do you hear creaking every time your upstairs neighbor walks? Every. Single. Step? The complex may have “upgraded” some of the units to wooden floors. This “upgrade” for your upstairs neighbor may be a “downgrade” for you below. Ask the agent or current owner what the sounds are like if you are not buying a top-floor unit. Research if there is lead paint and/or asbestos in older complexes.
4. Look up the police reports, crime and if any sex offenders live in the area as well as reviews on Facebook, Yelp, Twitter, and other social media groups. Realtors and sales personnel are not required to tell you about crime, sex offenders, or noise complaints and will likely just say you can look it up. Sometimes reports are not created but often the police will talk to you if you go into the station and ask if they are called to a certain area very often. Sites like Yelp, Facebook, and others will often have people who will complain and tell it like it is. If none of the reviews are good, you might have reason to be concerned.
5. Research the security company for the complex. The neighbor upstairs may play music very loudly with tons of base late into the night. If you call to make a “noise complaint,” does someone actually answer the phone or will it ring and ring? Do they answer and then just hang up every time? Security companies should answer and should make reports about all of the complaints they look into each night. Ask how many reports they respond to each night.
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I am a real estate broker, attorney and mediator. I am blogging from my own ideas and perspective. Although I am a licensed attorney, these are not intended to be legal advise.