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Tempted by the Allure of Condo Life? Some Things to Consider

Dec 30, 2020 06:00AM ● By Pamela Johnson
I love my house, I do. The location and the neighbors are great, but I must admit that there is something very tempting about the maintenance-free aspect of condo life. With the threat of a significant amount of snow in the forecast, I already know that while running to the garage to grab a snow shovel, it will be hard for me not to reach for a “For Sale” sign instead, planting it in the front yard as visions of an uncomplicated condo life run through my head.
 
Here in Massachusetts, purchasing a condo is like purchasing a single-family home except that there are a few added and important considerations. Obviously, price, style and location are key factors. Some people think only of the addition of HOA (Homeowners Association) fees, but there are other important things to know as well. Included in your offer should be a provision for your review of documents prior to purchase and sales. These include the master deed, declaration of trust/by-laws, financials, minutes of the last meetings, rules and regulations, and restrictions. The bottom line is that prior to your purchase you are simply looking to see what your responsibilities are and how the community is run.
   
What is covered by the monthly fee? Think and investigate beyond the “typical maintenance.” For example, who is responsible for the windows or the deck—homeowner or association?    
Does the association fee change annually? If so, generally by how much? Are there any pending or current assessments outside of the condo fee? To cover a one-time capital expenditure, sometimes homeowners agree to an assessment vs an increase in monthly fee. Are any such changes anticipated soon?
   
Is the condo complex self-managed or do they hire a professional management company? Pros and cons to both mostly depend on the size of the community. How many units are owner-occupied? Do they allow rentals?
 
Look at the financials. How do they spend their money? Do you feel it is reasonable? Do they spend their money wisely from year to year? It is important (for prospective lenders) that the budget contain at least 10% of their annual revenue as a reserve fund, just as with your household budget—you have a reserve for those inevitable rainy-day events. Lenders will also want to know if there is any litigation pending. If the lender wants to know it, you should too.
What are the rules and regulations? Do they prohibit pets altogether or by size and breed? I don’t think I have ever seen a “pet scale” at any condo, but there are many communities that limit a dog’s size to 25 pounds. Think of the rules and regulations as protecting your interests as well as your neighbors’. Most “rules and regs” are extremely reasonable, but if for some reason you can’t live by them, this is not the home for you.
  
Your association fee will likely cover the master insurance policy; if so, do you know what the coverage is?
  
The allure of condo life is very appealing and something that many should consider. It might seem like a lot of questions to ask, but they are all answered very quickly by reviewing the above referenced docs that you and your attorney will have ample time to review and understand.
  
With this knowledge behind you, it will be easy to embrace the seasons—watching the snow fall with a warm cup of coffee instead of worrying about snow removal, forgetting about raking those leaves, opting instead for locking the front door and embarking on an impromptu road trip and leaving all those maintenance worries in the rear-view mirror.

 

Submitted by Carol Ann Palmieri, Home-Sale Artist (left) of Al and Cal Realty Group, RE/MAX Executive Realty. Palmieri may be reached at 508-494-9061 or [email protected].
Bellingham Stuff

 

 

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