Boca Raton’s combination of oceanfront views and vibrant urban living makes it a great location for condominiums. They provide access to some of South Florida’s best features at a lower premium than a single-family dwelling but allow you to invest in your home rather than renting.
If you are debating whether to purchase a condo in Boca Raton, Delray Beach, or another South Florida location, consider the following 13 questions to guide your search.
Questions to ask yourself:
1) Do I like living close to other people?
One of the biggest differences in condo living is your proximity to your neighbors. Depending on the property, the experience is closer to an apartment or a duplex rather than a single-family structure. This can promote more of a sense of community, but it can also mean less privacy than you prefer. Be sure to consider the tradeoff before investing in a condo.
2) Do I plan on renting out the property?
Condos can make excellent investment properties. If you’re planning to rent out the condo, either immediately or after living there for a few years, you will want to make sure that this is permitted. Some condominium associations prohibit renting entirely while others restrict the frequency or length of rental terms. Find out about these restrictions before you make your final decision.
3) Do I plan on living here long term or short term?
In general, condos do not appreciate as quickly as single-family homes. This means it will take longer to recoup your closing costs. The longer you plan on staying, the more sense it makes to buy a condo (assuming you will still enjoy condo living at that time).
Note: Appreciation values are largely dependent on the area you’re in, and recent home value data suggests that the gap between condo and house appreciation is closing. The best thing to do is consult with your trusted Realtor who knows the local market.
4) Do I like the amenities?
A great benefit of the condo experience is the availability of amenities like a pool, spa, fitness center, and more. You should think about whether you will take advantage of these amenities, though.
If you already have a gym that you love, you might not visit the one onsite. But you’re still paying for it. A long list of perks can make a property attractive, but it’s a wasted expense if you never use them.
5) Do I value independent or turnkey living more?
Picture your dream home.
Does it include a garden you planted yourself? Are the shutters and trim a color you’ve had made to match your favorite flower? Is there a custom deck in the shape of your alma mater’s logo?
Or does it include well-manicured common areas? Do you relish the knowledge that you don’t need to worry about a leaky roof? Are you happy to defer decisions about design and modification to your community?
If you identify more with the first set of questions, you’ll be happier with a single-family home (one without a strict HOA). Condo living might be perfect for you if you identify more with the second.
6) Do I know a Realtor with experience in condos?
When buying a condo, it isn’t just the living experience that is different. There are many aspects to the purchase process that could throw you, or an inexperienced real estate agent, for a loop. These include borrowing requirements and condominium association contracts, among others. Be sure that your Realtor knows how to best represent you when you purchase a condo.
Questions to ask the condominium board:
1) Who manages the property?
The association could be professionally managed or self-managed, but you will want to find out who is in charge. If it’s a management company, do some research to determine if they are a respected company that keeps the owners’ interests at the forefront of all their decisions.
2) What are the condominium association fees?
Because of the maintenance, amenities, and insurance required for a community property, association fees can be substantial. All fees should be transparent, though, and you need to know what they are so you can include these figures in your affordability calculations.
3) What do the fees cover?
Common area maintenance, master insurance, and exterior improvements/repairs are generally included in association fees. However, knowing those details can have a big impact on your purchasing decision.
Is a parking space included? Do monthly fees include costs of water, sewer and trash pick-up? What percentage of the fee goes toward the reserve fund? Knowing the answers to these questions will make comparing different condos much easier.
4) What are the rules?
Association rules are designed to protect the collective investment of all its members. Those restrictions can feel oppressive, though, when you find out you can’t make the one major renovation you had hoped for. Each association will differ when it comes to creating rules and regulations, but you should be able to determine if their style matches your personality.
5) Are pets allowed?
While this falls under rules, it’s important enough to deserve its own section. If you are planning to bring your pet with you, then you need to know the condo’s policies before you make an offer. If you’re a pet owner, or you plan to be, it is easier to look for pet friendly condos at the outset of your search.
However, if you have a service or emotional support dog, you may find that you are able to bring it into any condo you are interested in purchasing.
6) What is the financial standing of the association?
Ask for statements, both current and historical. You want to see that the reserve fund is large enough to cover any emergencies. You also need to know if there is a large number of delinquencies for dues, which could indicate a problem in the near future.
Find out if any special assessments have been required or if there are any upcoming. Sometimes a condo will demand a temporary increase in the association fee, rather than depleting the reserve fund. But if this is the default choice for the association, it may be an indication of a risky financial situation. If a special assessment is coming soon, which an owner is mandated to reveal, you’ll need to include that in your calculations.
7) What is the percentage of owner-occupied units?
As mentioned above, you want to know whether you can rent the property, if that’s part of your investment strategy. Even if it isn’t, however, a higher rate of owner-occupied units generally means it will be easier to resell the unit. Because your lender’s down payment rate may vary depending upon the number of owner occupied units, it is important to be aware of this vital information.
Condo living can be a dream, and condo buying can go very smoothly, if you are prepared. The Jablon Team has extensive experience in buying and selling condominiums in South Florida. Contact us today to see how we can help you find a condo that is right for you.