Condo Buying Guide: Choices When Buying a Condo
If you’re in the market for a condo, you’ll have to make some decisions about how you want to approach the process and the markets you want to explore.
Finding a Real Estate Agent
Most buyers work with qualified real estate agents, who can guide them through the condo-buying process. An agent serves as a liaison between you and any sellers, while sharing valuable experience, expertise, local knowledge and negotiating skills – which can save you effort, time and money. Since no two agents are alike, it pays to take the time to find a good match. (Not sure what to look for? See 6 Questions for Your Realtor.)
Location is probably the most important consideration when choosing a home. Your price range will help narrow down the specific location, and so will your preferences. Young professionals, for example, may prefer urban settings, close to work and night life. Retirees, on the other hand, may want to be on the beach or close to a golf course. Of course, factors such as wanting to be close to friends, family and work also come into play.
Once you’ve decided on the general area, it’s time to evaluate the various neighborhoods and developments. Specific attributes make each area unique, and it’s helpful to spend time driving or walking around different neighborhoods to find one that seems like the best match. Deciding features might include dining and entertainment options, access to public transportation, proximity to hospitals or universities, and availability of recreational opportunities, such as boating or golf. (For more, see How to Rate a Neighborhood When Buying a Home.)
Style of the Property
Some developments consist of large high-rises, similar in appearance to office buildings. Other condos are clusters of two-story buildings that more closely resemble traditional homes. The style is important in terms of appearance, but also in terms of function. If you want quick access to the outside, a low-rise or duplex-style condo could be a good choice. Alternatively, if you want to be part of a large, dense community or have a wide view of the city, a high rise might be ideal.
The physical characteristics of the building are another consideration. Some buyers prefer older, more traditional-looking buildings, while others favor high-style modern properties. The look of the property's grounds should be factored in, as well. Manicured lawns and meticulous landscaping may be a priority for some people, while others prefer a more natural environment.
Age of the Property
Newer developments often provide sought-after features such as hardwood floors, granite countertops and walk-in closets, as well as up-to-date architecture and functionality. Older developments, on the other hand, may offer an established community and larger units for the same money. In either case, pay close attention to the condition of both the unit you’re interested in and the development as a whole. Watch out for shoddy construction, poor upkeep and high vacancy rates, which can be red flags to take yourself elsewhere.
Condo Buying Guide: Condo Features to Consider