I get asked a lot of the same questions whenever I take a new client out to view condos. Living in a condo is a completely different lifestyle for most and so there are certain things to consider when making the choice between condo or single family home. Here are just a few things to consider.
What do you own?
Condominiums are zoned in such a way that you do not own the land beneath you. You own the space and air inside the four walls along with all of your belongings. You have access to what people call “limited common elements” as well as “common elements”
- Limited common element: It is a space attached to your unit that is intended for your use only. i.e. deck, front porch
- Common element: This would be any space used in common with all other owners of the building. This would be a community room, outdoor common space such as a pool, gazebo, tennis court etc.
What do you pay for?
Typically in a condo it is common for the owner to pay for gas and electric, but water utility bills are covered by association dues.
Most of the time you do not have to shovel or mow your lawn. One of the great benefits is that the association hires someone to do this for you!
Depending upon the association the maintenance of the exterior of the building will be an association responsibility. The roof, siding, skylights, decks and so forth are maintained by the association’s management company. The cost is covered by either reserve fund or special assessment.
- Reserve fund: It is an account held by the association to take care of any necessary repairs.
- Special assessment: This is the process in which the total cost of the project at hand will be covered by a payment from each unit in one lump sum. That payment is determined by what percentage interest you have in the condominium association. Typically it is based on the size of your unit.
What about mechanicals and windows?
As a condo owner you are responsible for whatever is within the four walls and your windows. Meaning you maintain all mechanicals and appliances as well as make any changes to your unit that you see fit and if the windows are starting to get older, chances are you would be responsible for the replacement of those too.
Okay, now that we know a little more about living in a condo, what are some important questions to ask your agent or condo association prior to purchasing?
- What are the condo association fees? Are they per month or per year?
- What is included in the condo fees?
- Is there an additional cost for parking?
- What is the pet policy?
- May I rent my unit at any time?
- What method does the association use regarding repairs? Reserve fund or assessment?
- What is the annual operating budget?
- How much is there in the reserve fund?
- Ask to see meeting minutes from the association’s past 6 meetings to get a feel for what is being talked about.
- Maybe find a neighbor or a friend that lives in the condos and ask them how they like it.
As you can see there are a lot of things to consider when purchasing a condo. Not all condo associations are alike and so it is a good idea to hire someone who knows the right questions to ask and that has been around the block more than once. Forward Realty Group specializes in condo sales in and around Madison, WI.
The next time you or someone you know is in the market be sure to call us at 608-658-0467 to start the process. You may also visit CapitolSquareLiving.com to get a feel for what is on the market. Happy shopping!