Questions to Ask When Buying A Condo in Atlanta | Condos for Sale
By Jim Crawford
Owning a condo in Atlanta or anywhere in the Atlanta Metro region is very different than owning a fee simple detached single family home! When you own a condo you own the inside of your unit, and usually have an interest in common areas of the condominium complex. So there are many questions that should be asked before purchasing a condo as a home. First of all, all condominium developments have different rules and by-laws. Basically they have either an in house managed association or it may be run by a professional condo management company. Next each development varies by the number of units that are in the particular development. That brings us to condo fees. Condo fees are the monthly charge that is paid by each condo owner as their share of running the condominium complex. Those fees may cover exterior maintenance of the common grounds, hallways, security, the roof, trash removal, a master insurance plan, water, sewer, common electric, grounds keeping, swimming pool, recreation, tennis, and cable TV. I would like to stress again that these fees are vital to the day to day running of the condominium and what is covered varies greatly in each community! It is also very important that there are sufficient funds on hands for an emergency – to replace a leaking roof or repair a broken furnace. Older complexes may need to have higher reserves because the age of the structure may require more maintenance the older the development gets. This is where costs can add up quickly! So you can see that it is very smart to ask a lot of questions! If there is a deficit your monthly payments can rise, and if you have a high delinquency rate in condominium ownership for payment of those monthly fees…the fees could start to rise dramatically ( As in many units are foreclosures or pre-foreclosures) ! If so that could trigger a need for special assessments.
Maintenance in a condo complex cannot be deferred. If the development needs a new roof, exterior painting and other maintenance cannot be postponed until the money is there. If that were to occur, that means that the damage incurred would become much greater much quicker! So lets suppose that you have 100 units that were to be assessed $1000.00 each unit for needed upkeep – what happens when only 50 units have paid the assessments? The reality is that although they can try to pressure units to pay they have to move ahead and perform the work, and that entails more money! Guess what? Do not be surprised if they come back and request a special assessment of $2000 per unit! Surprised? As a seasoned Atlanta real estate agent I can tell you it happens all the time!
Owning a condominium in Atlanta offers a lot of pluses for the right homeowner but others may view them as restrictions. A single family home generally appreciates more and faster than condominium ownership, and the current down economy has placed many condo owners at the hands of other tenants so it is not as easy to sell quickly if you had to sell in short notice. A high percentage of rented units, foreclosures, or a high percentage of condo units in arrears could make getting a mortgage for a potential buyer next to impossible!
Some Questions to Ask Before Buying a Condo in Atlanta
- What are the Monthly Fees?
- What do the Monthly Fees Cover?
- Is there a reserve fund?
- How much is in the reserve fund?
- Are you solvent?
- Are there any current or pending lawsuits in the condominium complex?
- Is there a master insurance policy for the complex?
- Are you self insured or insured by professional insurers?
- Is there a proposed increase in monthly fees slated to occur in the near future?
- Are any “Special Assessments” planned in the near future?
- Is the development professionally managed or is there a local board or HOA?
- What is the contact information for the management?
- What is the delinquency rate for payment by unit owners?
- Can you rent your own unit if you move or are transferred?
- Are there different rules that are applied to non owner occupied units?
- What is the percentage of condo units that are currently rented out?
- What about parking?
- Are you assigned a permanent space(s)? If there an additional fees for monthly parking?
- What about storage?
- May I have a copy of the Condominium Documents to review before buying?
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