Condos can offer a lot of affordability and value
By Amy Winter
Copley News Service
The condo market thrives on lifestyle and affordability, appealing especially to young professionals and empty nesters. If you want to purchase a condo, consider how long you are going to stay and how much you are willing to pay. Ilyce Glink, publisher of www.thinkglink.com, recommends keeping a condo for at least three to five years to help maintain its value.
It can be difficult to tell whether a condo will keep its resale value - condos tend to be more affected by the ups and downs of the market.
"It is never a given that the resale value will be strong when one purchases a condo," says Gigi Giannoni, president of Evolv, a real estate solutions company in Atlanta, Ga. "However, if the buyer is willing to hold the condo and resell based on market opportunity, one can base the potential resale value by comparing the current purchase price to previous sales."
Location is important in determining value. Is the condo complex located near shopping centers or public transportation? It depends on the market, but condos in urban areas are usually more desirable and affordable, according to Nicole Hall, editor in chief of LendingTree's Smart Borrower Center.
Examine the condition of the buildings. If they are brand-new, Glink suggests checking into other buildings or homes the developers have built. Visit the complex during the day and at night to get a feel of the neighborhood. Listen to the amount of noise.
Observe the ratio of owners to investors. Owner-occupied buildings tend to be better for resale; owners have more at stake in maintaining their property than renters. Look at who lives in the complex. Who would be the prospective buyers?
"As long as the product type appeals to the appropriate demographic who is geared to buy in that location, it will always make a difference and enhance value," says Giannoni.
Certain services can make a condo more marketable. Security options, such as a guard service or gate, provide protection when entering a complex. And offering parking spots or garages may be valuable if living downtown with limited parking.
View matters when it comes to condos, according to Glink. Upper-floor condos are usually more desirable than the bottom ones, but it depends on the building. If the bottom-floor unit opens to a nice garden, it may help resale value. However if the bottom unit has windows near a busy street, it may be too loud and sensitive to security issues, according to Hall.
Review the condo association documents including budgets and balance sheets. Read the minutes from the board of directors' meetings for the last few years - they display the concerns voiced by condo owners, according to Glink. Has the board met the budget? Have the issues been solved? In charge of the homeowners association, the board makes sure the buildings are kept up, issues are addressed, fees are paid and rules are enforced.
Take a look at the rules and regulations. Some rules may not fit with your lifestyle, according to Hall. Some complexes have limitations on noise level, renovations, renting to others and pet possession.
Budget for condo association fees. Condo owners pay monthly fees to preserve amenities, including pools, gyms or playgrounds, as well as to maintain the landscape and repair the common areas.
As a condo owner, you are only responsible for the interior of the condo, according to Glink. A private insurance policy covers your unit and your belongings, protecting the interior from damages like fires or vandalisms. Hall says through condo association fees, you help pay for the master insurance policy that covers the grounds, common areas and building structures.
Access to amenities, little yard maintenance, security and location create a tempting living choice.
"Given the value of time and how time-crunched we all seem to be in today's fast-paced world," says Giannoni, "conveniences are a luxury many want and condominium living offers just that."
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