Around one-third of the US population rent their homes. Many people aspire for something more permanent than an apartment or rental home. Basic limits on things like repainting or minor renovations help drive those aspirations.

Yet, what if you’re not in the market for a full-blown house or prefer urban living? That can make buying a condominium an attractive option. Of course, it’s not just a matter of finding a neighborhood you like. Let’s say you want to move to San Diego. You’ve done your research and found San Diego condos you like. Now what?

Keep reading for some key questions you should ask before buying a condo.

1. What Will My Monthly Fees Look Like?

Buying a condo also means buying into the HOA that manages the complex. That translates into a monthly fee that helps cover things like:

  • Lawn maintenance
  • Pools
  • On-site gyms
  • Public area cleaning

Fees can vary widely depending on the location, but you should make sure you’ll get your money’s worth from those fees.

2. Do I Like the Management Team?

You’ll interact with the management team for years. That means that if someone rubs you the wrong way, you can expect a lot more of it for the foreseeable future.

Make sure you at least sit down with the manager for meaningful talk. While they’ll be in sales mode, check in with your intuition. If you don’t like the vibe, better to move on.

3. Will I Need to Sell in the Near Future?

While housing markets can change a lot over the course of a few years, they typically change gradually. Look at the recent condos for sale listings in the area. If you expect that you’ll move within three-five years, you want an area where condos sell quickly or don’t come up for sale very often.

That dramatically improves your chances of selling your condo without too much trouble down the road.

4. Is There a Rental Cap?

Many condo HOAs put a hard limit on how many units can get rented out at any given time. Some put the cap as low as 10% or 20%. Other HOAs don’t put any limit on it.

If you travel a lot and want the ability to rent your place out either short-term or long-term, you want a place with no rental cap.

5. Are Any Special Assessments on the Horizon

HOAs use special assessments when they plan on a major change to the public space or the cash reserves can’t cover ongoing costs. Well-managed condos use them sparingly, while poorly managed condos use them more often. Either way, it can mean a big extra expense for the owners.

Ask about any previous special assessments and if any will happen in the near future.

Buying a Condominium the Smart Way

Buying a condominium the smart way means getting as much information as you can ahead of time. Use the questions above as a starting point for gathering information.

If possible, talk with some of the other owners and confirm the info you gather. That should help you make an informed decision.

Interested in the design aspects of condos or homes? Check out some of our architecture and design articles.

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