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Condos and HOA Fees

For some people, a condominium may be a better housing choice than the traditional detached house. Such units are usually located with convenient access to office and shopping areas, and there is often a lot less home maintenance involved with a condo.

A condominium may be purchased and owned directly, just like a house. Generally you share a common interest with other owners in the surrounding groups and some other facilities. You are responsible for everything inside the unit. The management firm is in charge of the day-to-day care of the entire complex, taxes, and are responsible for everything outside, such as: the pool, clubhouse, etc.

When you buy a condo, you will be paying a monthly fee, described as a maintenance fee, association fee or homeowner’s dues, which pay for the operating costs of the building. You’ll also make a separate payment for your own unit’s financing if you financed it. You will want to review important items to check out the performance of the management company. These include information about the cash reserves, current operating budgets, and its legal status. Find out if the letters of incorporation are in good order and if there are any lawsuits pending against the property.

When you look at condos, check the exterior walls and common grounds to see if they’re well maintained. If the paint looks shabby, and the lawn shows signs of neglect, lights are burned out or the water in the pool seems cloudy, stay away! If the management firm isn’t doing a good job, you could be in for a huge bill for an assessment or repairs at some time in the future. If possible, it is a good idea to attend a meeting of the owners or shareholders. They’re usually held once a month and you’ll get a good idea of what kind of problems come up.

Before you commit, get a copy of the rules for owners. Some units may exclude pets, pianos or even grills. Also, find out how recreation areas are controlled.

Depending on your lifestyle, a condo may be right for you – especially if you have little time for maintenance!