A condo is a type of housing unit that is typically owned by an individual. Condos are often found in close-knit communities, and they offer many of the same amenities as apartments, including swimming pools, fitness centers, and more.
Condos have a number of advantages over traditional apartments and single-family homes. For one, they’re often more affordable than other types of homes, making them a great option for first-time buyers or people looking to downsize. Condos are also easier to maintain than other types of property, since your monthly condo fees cover things like landscaping, building maintenance, and sometimes even utilities. And because they’re often located in busy urban areas, condos offer residents a maintenance-free way to enjoy all the best that city living has to offer.
But there are a few things you should know if you are thinking about buying or moving into a new condo. Here are seven tips to help you get settled in and make the most of your new home.
1. Picking the right condo
The first step in your hunt should be to assess your own needs and wants. Do you prefer a high-rise or a low-rise building? Are you looking for a condo that’s close to public transit, or do you want something with easy highway access? How important are features like a swimming pool, gym, or party room? Is it essential that your condo has visitor parking or a storage locker? Once you’ve determined what you need, you can start your search.
When considering individual units, pay attention to both the physical aspects of the space and the layout. Does the unit get good natural light? Is it an efficient use of space? Would it be easy to furniture? Be sure to also check for any potential problem areas, like odd smells or evidence of water damage.
It’s also important to consider the building as a whole. What is the condition of common areas like the lobby and hallways? Are there any major repairs that will soon be underway? How is traffic in and out of the building during peak times?
Finally, take a look at the neighborhood surrounding your prospective condo. Is it safe and well-lit at night? Are there any commercial or industrial uses nearby that could create excess noise or traffic? Are there any parks or green spaces nearby that would make for a pleasant stroll on a Sunday afternoon?
2. Location, location, location
The best way to ensure you’ll be happy with your condo is to carefully select the location. Before you start looking at condos, it’s important to do your research and narrow down your options. Once you know what you’re looking for, you can start to focus your search on specific areas.
Think about your lifestyle and what kind of environment you want to live in. If you’re looking for a more relaxed lifestyle, then you might want to find a condo in a quieter area. However, if you’re looking for a more vibrant lifestyle, then you might want to look for a condo in a bustling city center.
Once you’ve narrowed down your location options, it’s time to start reading local reviews so that you can get an idea of what it’s like to live in each area. You can read online reviews or speak to people who live in the area and ask them about their experience.
3. Researching the building and amenities
When you’re looking for a condo, it’s important to do your research on both the building and the surrounding neighborhood. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Check the building’s website and any social media accounts for reviews from current and past residents.
- Research the amenities that are important to you and make sure the building has what you’re looking for.
- Consider the location of the condo. Is it close to public transportation, restaurants, and other places you frequent?
- Look at crime rates in the area to ensure you feel safe both in and around your new home.
- Check with the building management to see what kind of pet policy they have in place.
- Find out if there are any special assessments or fees that you’ll be responsible for as a unit owner.
- Ask about the building’s insurance policy and coverage in case of damage or natural disasters.
4. Hiring a real estate agent
If you’re thinking about purchasing a condo, you may be wondering if you need to hire a real estate agent. The answer is, it depends. If you’re experienced in the home-buying process and comfortable working with contracts and negotiating on your own behalf, you may not need an agent. However, if this is your first time buying a home, or if you’re not confident in your ability to navigate the process on your own, it’s probably worth it to hire an agent.
There are a few things to keep in mind when hiring a real estate agent. First, make sure you hire someone who specializes in condo purchases. There are different rules and regulations governing condos that you’ll need an expert to help navigate. Second, be sure to interview several different agents before making a decision. Ask each one about their experience with condo purchases and whether they have any specialties or certifications that would be relevant to your purchase. Finally, make sure you’re comfortable with the agent you choose and that you feel confident in their ability to represent your interests throughout the purchase process.
5. Making an offer
If you’re in a situation where you’re considering making an offer on a condo, there are a few things you should keep in mind to make sure the process goes smoothly. Here are seven starter tips:
- Get your finances in order. This means having a mortgage pre-approval in hand and being aware of any additional costs associated with buying a condo (e.g., strata fees, parking, etc.).
- Do your research. Be sure to research the condo development and ask questions about things like the age of the building, common area maintenance fees, special assessments that may be coming up, etc.
- Hire a professional home inspector. This will give you peace of mind knowing that there aren’t any major repair issues that need to be addressed before you move in.
- Review the status certificate (if applicable). The status certificate is a document that outlines important information about the condo corporation, such as the financial state of the corporation and any rules and regulations that owners must follow.
- Make an informed decision. Once you have all of the necessary information, take some time to weigh all of your options before making an offer on a condo unit.
- Negotiate in good faith. If your offer is accepted, remember that you’re now entering into a legally binding contract, so it’s important to negotiate in good faith and to be honest about your intentions for the property.
- Get everything in writing. Be sure to get all pertinent details about the purchase agreement down in writing before signing anything – this will help protect your interests throughout the process.
6. Getting a mortgage
You’ve decided you want to buy a condo. That’s great! Owning your own place has a lot of advantages. But before you start the buying process, there are a few things you should know, especially if this is your first time purchasing a property. One of the biggest things to consider is whether or not you will be able to secure a mortgage. Here are seven starter tips if you’re about to buy a condo and apply for a mortgage:
- Check your credit score. This is one of the first things lenders will look at when considering your application for a mortgage. If you have a high credit score, you’re more likely to be approved for a loan with favorable terms and conditions. If your credit score is on the lower end, don’t worry – there are still options available to you, such as FHA loans.
- Research different types of loans. There are many different types of loans available, each with its own pros and cons. You’ll need to decide which type of loan is best for your unique situation. Some common types of loans include conventional mortgages, FHA loans, VA loans, and jumbo loans.
- Get pre-approved for a loan. Once you’ve decided on the type of loan that’s right for you, it’s time to get pre-approved by a lender. This means they will give you an estimate of how much money they are willing to lend you based on factors such as your credit score, income, debts, etc. Getting pre-approved for a loan can help streamline the home-buying process by letting you know how much money you have to work with from the start.
- Find out how much condo insurance costs. When you purchase a condo unit, you will likely be required by your lender to purchase condominium associations (HOA) insurance in addition to standard homeowners insurance policy. This protects both the lender and yourself in case something happens to the property, such as fire or flood damage. Be sure to factor this additional expense into your budget when considering how much house or condo you can afford.
- Determine what additional costs are involved in buying a condo. In addition to the purchase price of the unit, there are other costs associated with buying a condo that must be considered, such as HOA fees, special assessments, closing costs, etc. These additional costs can add up quickly, so be sure to factor them into your budget when determining how much house or condo you can afford.
- Shop around for the best interest rate and terms on your mortgage loan. Once you know how much money you have available to spend on buying a house or condo, it’s time to start shopping around for the best interest rates and terms from lenders. Be sure to compare several lenders before making any decisions so that you can get the best deal possible.
- Work with an experienced real estate agent who knows about condos. Buying any type of property can be complicated, but condos come with their own set of rules and regulations that can be confusing for first-time buyers. Working with an experienced real estate agent who specializes in condos can help make the process smoother and less stressful by walking you through every step involved in purchasing your new home sweet home.
7. Closing on the condo
You’ve finally saved up enough for a down payment, you’ve been approved for a mortgage, and you’re about to close on your very first condo. Congratulations! Even if you’ve been renting up until now, becoming a homeowner is a game-changer. Here are seven things you need to do before closing on your condo so that everything goes smoothly.
- Review the documents thoroughly
There will be A TON of paperwork to sign when you close on your condo, so make sure you take the time to review everything thoroughly before putting your John Hancock on the dotted line. If there’s anything you don’t understand, ask your real estate agent or lawyer to explain it to you. You don’t want to accidentally agree to something you didn’t mean to!
- Get homeowners insurance
You are required to have homeowners insurance in order to close on your mortgage, so start shopping around for the best policy for your needs and budget well in advance of your closing date. Keep in mind that most policies have a 30-day waiting period, so you can’t wait until the last minute to get insured!
- Get your finances in order
Closing on a mortgage is a big financial commitment, so make sure all of your ducks are in a row before moving forward. This means having enough money saved up for things like the down payment, closing costs, and any necessary repairs or renovations. It also means making sure all of your bills are paid up-to-date and that you have no pending collections or other debts that could come back to bite you later on.
- Arrange for utilities
You’ll need to set up utilities at your new condo before moving in, so start making calls a few weeks ahead of time. This way, you can ensure that everything will be up and running on move-in day instead of having to go without power or heat while waiting for the utility companies to get their act together.
- Pack an essentials kit
Even if you’re able to move all of your stuff into your new place in one day, there’s a good chance you won’t be able to unpack everything right away. To make sure you have what you need in the meantime, pack an essentials kit with things like toiletries, change of clothes, bedding, towels, non-perishable food items, etc. This will help you get through those first few days/weeks until everything is unpacked and put away properly.