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Going Beyond Bedrooms and Bathrooms: What You Should Know Before Buying a Condo

Condo .

There are a lot of details to consider before you buy a condo. From the number of cabinets in the kitchen to how many owners live in the complex, be sure to check these quick tips to help you get started.

Cabinets and Appliances

Look at the kitchen, take into account both its layout and age. Make sure there are enough cabinets for all your cookware and gadgets, and imagine preparing a meal in that space so that you can see how well the kitchen's workflow is designed. Check the age of the appliances, and be prepared to replace any that are too old.

Where do I Park?

Find out whether any parking spaces are included with the condo or available for an extra fee. A designated space for each car you own is the most convenient, however, not all condominium complexes offer designated spaces. You might have access to an open parking lot, or you may even be restricted to nearby street parking.

The Rates Lenders Look At

If you are looking to obtain a mortgage to purchase your condo, you’re probably already looking at interest rates. There are two other rates that the major lenders — Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) — may look at before approving a loan.

First, all three agencies frequently check a condominium complex’s delinquency rate, which is how many unit owners are behind on their condo-related expenses. Each agency typically requires the delinquency rate to be 15 percent or less. If it’s higher, these agencies likely won’t approve a loan for any unit in the complex.

Second, the FHA often also checks a complex’s occupancy rate. This is the number of unit owners living in their condos, and the FHA normally wants the rate to be at least 35 percent. If it’s lower, you might not be able to get an FHA loan.

Your real estate agent will be able to look these two rates up for you, and your mortgage broker can help determine what funding is available.

Bylaws and Rules

Read through all of the regulations line by line so you understand what condo owners must follow. Combing through every detail is tedious, but it’s important to know what is and isn’t allowed. For example, if you have a pet, want a flower garden, or even desire to remodel, understanding what’s permitted will help determine if the property works for you.

Master Insurance Policy

The condo association should have a master insurance policy, which is typically used to insure the association against liability lawsuits and a complex’s common property against certain causes of damage. Sometimes, an association’s master policy also provides coverage for certain features or upgrades inside individual units.

Obtain a copy of the condo association’s master policy and ask your insurance agent whether the policy provides adequate protection for the association. Ask your agent to provide you with a condo insurance policy that complements the master policy’s protections. If you don’t already have someone who can help you, contact an independent insurance agent.


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