Real estate Q&A: What questions should I ask before buying a condo?

By Gary M. Singer

Q: In my golden years, I was anticipating selling my single-family home and buying a condo. After the recent tragedy and many other problems that have recently come to light, I realized I need to ask many questions I never thought of before purchasing anything. If I do decide to purchase a condo eventually, what questions should I be asking? —Mary

A: Everyone should do their research before buying a new home. I see far too many homebuyers who only seem to do the minimum before making the most significant purchase in their life.

This issue is compounded when dealing with community associations that provide another level of governance and potential problems. It is further complicated when you share ownership of a building with your neighbors.

You can reduce your risk of having an expensive or aggravating issue by asking the right questions and carefully reviewing your community’s documents. Read the declaration or restrictions and the community’s rules.

Look at least a year’s worth of board meeting minutes and carefully review the budget and year-end financials to ensure that your potential neighborhood is appropriately managed.

Before buying a condo, you should always ask certain questions: What are the monthly dues, and what do they cover? Are the reserves adequately funded to cover upcoming maintenance needs? Do the building and grounds look cared for? Are there any special assessments being considered or recently passed? How many owners are delinquent on their dues? Are most units occupied by tenants or owners? Has anyone recently sued the association? Is the management company easy to deal with?

There are also some more personal considerations: Will your furniture fit? Are your potential neighbors noisy? Are they friendly? Does the community seem like a good fit for your lifestyle? Is the parking adequate for your needs? Why is the current owner selling the apartment?

A real estate agent can help you get these answers and suggest more. Shop around for an agent you connect with while ensuring that they have the experience to help you find your next dream home.


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