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5 tips for buying a condominium that won’t destroy your life

When you search on “condo horror stories,” you won’t come up short.

(1) Choose a real estate agent who sells a lot of condos in the city you’re exploring.

If you can’t get a referral, find an agency in your city that has sold many condos. Ask for an agent who’s been in the business for at least 5 years. Interview at least 3 agents.

(2) Arrange to get a copy of the rules before you make an offer.

Don’t let the agent tell you that’s impossible. The current condo owner has access to the rules and bylaws. If they really want to sell, they’ll send them to you.

(3) Ask how communications take place among the board, manager, and community.

One well-managed condo has a quarterly newsletter from the board. Many others have private Facebook groups. Some invite owners to attend all the meetings. Some have special meetings with owners to discuss specific topics.

(4) Notice the condition of the property.

The hallways should be not just clean but bright and up to date — and not too institutional. You might ask how the building decides on things like colors of rugs and door decorations. Maybe you don’t care, but it’s a sign of how the community operates.

(5) Ask point blank, “How many assessments has this property had in the last 5 years?”

In one building the board kept the dues low. But they demanded assessments nearly every year, amounting to 30–40% of the dues.

Condo communities change over time.

Generally, the management company outlasts multiple boards, unless they’re caught embezzling. That’s rare, but it happens.

Just a few simple questions can save you years of hassle…

…and thousands of dollars in moving and legal fees. Just make sure you’re not taken in by a beautiful pool and a cute kitchen. You won’t be able to enjoy them if you’re constantly fighting with the board and/or the management company.

Helping entrepreneurs and independent professionals grow their businesses one story at a time. http://cathygoodwin.com

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