Finding your Condo:
Congratulations! You are interested in becoming a condominium owner.
Here at the CondoHotline.com, we provide you with a much information as we can about our complexes. The following list is a sampling of what you will find on our site:
- Videos tours
- Floor plans
- Rules and regulations
- Association/common expense fees
- Feature sheets
- Much, much more!
How do you go about finding this information? Easy! Simply click on "North American Condos" in the upper left-hand area of this page. Then, click on the city of your choice. If you don't see the city of your choice, email firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know. We are currently recruiting successful Realtors in your area to join us - but we only accept the best, so please be patient while we finish our screening process.
How to search for a condo?
Here you will find all the information in one place that will walk you through the entire process of purchasing a condo; from finding the one that compliments your lifestyle to financing your new purchase.
Where, Where, Where??
It doesn’t matter if you are looking to purchase your condo as a second home, an investment property, vacation place or primary residence; where are you going to find it? Location of your condo is vital to having a bad experience or a wonderful one. Here are some things to remember to assist in successfully locating a condo that matches your desires and expectations of ownership.
o Places of employment (How much time is your commute?)
o Do you have children? If so, are the schools acceptable to your needs?
o Will your medical needs be met (How far is the hospital or your current physician?)
o Conveniences like grocery, shopping, pharmacy
o Entertainment and recreational opportunities in the area
Deciding on the Condo Building
Now that you have narrowed down your choice of locations you want to look into the building where your condo is located. As you search for a condo that is within your budget there are extras to figure into consideration regarding your condo building. The building, as much as the condo unit, will need to fit into your lifestyle. Here are a few things to consider in your decision.
o Are there homeowner or association fees? (are they paid yearly or monthly)
o How many parking spaces are you allotted? (one, two, are they covered)
o Who will your neighbors be in your building?
o What are the guidelines for shared areas? (areas in common with other condos)
o Does the building have any commercial units? (coffee shops, retail, etc.)
o What amenities does the building offer? (security, storage, pool, exercise room)
o Is your condo building part of a hotel project?
Finding the Individual Condo Unit
The building that suits you has been selected as well as the location. Next is to choose the individual condo unit to suit your lifestyle.
The majority of condo buildings will have several floorplan layouts and options to choose from. These floorplans will be similar through the different floors of the condo building. This allows you to choose the floorplan you desire and then choose the floor as well based upon your lifestyle. When choosing your individual condo unit there are some factors to keep in mind when making that final decision. Here are a few to help you get started:
What will you be looking at through the windows of your condo, what floor will you be on and what direction is your condo going to face? Are there any projects in the surrounding area that may block the view in the future?
Choosing the floor you will live on is as important as the view. If you are closer to the ground is there noise from nearby traffic, what businesses are nearby? Are you near any amenities that may generate noise and if so at what hours of the day?
If you are purchasing a pre-owned unit are there any upgrades or finishing touches that need to be completed? Any that you want to have done before you move in? Don’t forget to include these into your final budget.
The people that live in your condo building can be your best friend or your worst nightmare. Make sure to take some time to check out who is living in your building. Do they have children, are they in a band, do they work the late shift, or do they rent their unit out to students that have people coming in and out at all times. If you like the building, check out different floors that have available units to find the one to suit you.
Condo Ownership Benefits
Income Tax Breaks
There are tax breaks made available by the U.S. Government to homeowners over and above their yearly deduction. Condo owners are able to take the interest paid on their mortgage and deduct it on their taxes. This interest represents a large portion of the payments made in the first few years you have your mortgage. Another tax break is the ability to deduct your property taxes paid annually.
Ownership Stabilizes Costs of Living
Increases in homeownership expenses that are paid monthly (taxes and insurance) can increase however these increases happen gradually. Whereas the rent amount each month tends to be more unpredictable and less stable.
Real Estate Appreciation
Over time most real estate increases in value or appreciates. To help ensure this appreciation you need to maintain the condition of your condo as it will likely be of more value should you wish to sell it in the future. This appreciation will be to your benefit monetarily when you see the increase in your condo’s value.
While your initial mortgage payments primarily go directly to the interest payment a small portion does go to principal. The longer you pay on your mortgage the more that will be applied to the principal or your equity value in your condo. Depending on the length of the mortgage you selected your equity will build up quicker.
Getting mortgage pre-approval before making an offer
Pre-approval on a mortgage before you make an offer tells you how much you are able to afford. It will also give you an estimate on your payments each month allowing you to select a condo that not only fits your budget but your lifestyle as well. You will know going into negotiations on the final price what you can comfortably afford.
Don’t forget about closing costs
Closing costs will vary based upon where you live and your mortgage lender. These costs cover a number of expenses and can range from 2% to 6% of your loan amount. When you get your pre-approval notice ask your lender or mortgage broker to give you a Good Faith estimate of any loan-related fees you will have to pay. This gives you time to make sure that you have the amount needed to avoid any delays in closing or the possibility of escrow falling through due to lack of funds.
Timing is everything when moving from the old home to the new one
If at all possible try to arrange taking ownership of your new condo to coordinate with the moving out of your old home. Moving is a strain and having to move more than once because you are not able to move into your new home immediately is something to avoid.
Get an inspection
When you make your offer you have the option generally of asking for conditions to be met before finalizing the purchase. One of those conditions should be having an inspection done of your new condo. The cold weather of winter is not the time to find out that the heating system is out of date and has to be replaced. The condo inspection by a professional will inform you of any defects in the wiring, plumbing, heating and cooling systems along with an estimate of repair costs. If anything needs to be done you will be able to negotiate deducting the costs from the sale price or at times the seller will go ahead and have the repairs done themselves. Should the seller not be willing to deduct the costs or won’t make the repairs and you are set on purchasing that unit it is vital that you have the funds set aside to make the repairs yourself on top of making your mortgage payments.
5 Important Factors in an Effective Negotiation
Now that you have found a condo it is time for negotiations. The first thing you want to know is the fair market value of the condo. One way to find this out is to have an agent or other professional do a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) which will show what other similar condos sold for recently. The analysis will generally give highs, lows and an average. What a condo is listed for does not mean that is what it will be sold or bought for. There can be a huge difference between listed and final sold price. Be informed.
The condo you have chosen, does it rise above or fall below other condos that sold recently? Be practical in your comparison of the condos condition; then modify your opinions to be higher or lower based upon what you have seen.
Have you compared the amenities in similar condos to the one you have chosen? Do they have more or less? Even though those amenities do not impact the value as greatly as location or condition, they do factor in to a final decision.
Your emotional preparedness and frame of mind is the most important factor. It is important that your emotions do not take control of your common sense. While being excited is normal, during negotiations emotions need to be restrained so the value of the information you have gathered is not lost.
Not only should your emotions be in order so should your finances. An offer made without any lingering financial problems will be more appealing.
Do not be afraid to let the condo go. The decision to walk away if the price is not right or within your budget has to be made before you go into negotiations. Make your limits realistic and commit to them. Saying yes to a condo that is over budget is a growing problem among condo buyers whose emotions made their decisions for them. It could be an error in judgment that you will regret every month you pay the mortgage.
Your information should be organized and available.
Wasting all the time you have spent preparing and gathering information by making a preposterously low ball offer can halt negotiations. If the seller has priced their condo realistically, then making a low offer can turn them away and it is rare that they will continue to negotiate any further.
Condo Buying Process
If this is your first condo purchase it may seem overwhelming. Do not worry, these steps will assist you through the process of buying a condo and shortly you will be a proud new condo owner.
1. Ensure your credit is clean and check your credit score. Your finances must be in order before you buy a condo. It would be disappointing to find your dream condo and then have the deal fall through because of your credit.
2. Research the different types of mortgages available and decide on your budget. The price should be something you are comfortable with and is within your limits. Being overextended is not a position you want to put yourself in to finance your purchase; in time it can come back to hurt you.
3. Finalize the location where you wish to live. Find the neighborhood and complex that is convenient and fits your lifestyle.
4. A broker is able to assist you in finding your condo and guiding you through negotiations.
5. Finalize which condo unit is for you.
6. Submit a purchase contract to the seller.
7. Gather information about the market so you are prepared when you go into negotiations.
8. It’s time for negotiations.
9. Have the condo professionally inspected. The money you spend on the inspection can save you thousands in repairs down the road.
10. If applicable have an attorney give approval to the purchase contract.
11. Check with your loan officer and have them approve the loan.
12. You can now close on your condo unit.
13. Take in the view and enjoy your new condo and all it has to offer.
Owning a Condo
Being a condominium owner gives you exclusive ownership rights to your unit and rights the common shared areas of the project along with the other owners.