Gina Pio Roda, Agent
Redfin Real Estate
433 California, Suite 1010
San Francisco, CA 94104
Two things make condo-buying different from single-family-home buying:
1. You are purchasing only the space within the walls, not the land.
2. Your neighbors are your co-investors.
Living in a condo means you live in a community. You give up some space and privacy for less maintenance and some amenities, like a pool or weight room. The community is managed a homeowner's association (HOA) that collects monthly fees to cover master insurance and building maintenance. When shopping for a condo, look carefully at both the condo and the HOA.
10 Tips for Buying a Condo
1. Size matters: In smaller buildings, there is a greater sense of community and the HOA fees tend to be higher. Large buildings have more amenities, powerful HOAs and more anonymity for residents.
2. Get it inspected: Don't take the HOA's word on the condition of the condo – make sure both the condo and the building are safe and up to code.
3. Know what you'll pay in HOA fees: HOA fees vary, but expect to pay about 0.1% of the sales price per month. For a $300,000 condo, that's about $300 in monthly dues.
4. Read the minutes from the last few HOA meetings: From the minutes, you can learn about disputes between residents, future maintenance projects and the management style of the HOA.
5. Check the reserve funds of the HOA: Make sure the HOA has enough money to pay for the current and planned maintenance projects
6. Read the fine print: Read the covenants, conditions and restrictions (CCRs) for the building. Can you have a gas grill on your balcony? Are holiday decorations permitted?
7. Talk to current residents: Get their impressions of living in the building. Is the building well-run? What are some common problems?
8. Ask about the percentage of owner-occupied units: Stay away from buildings that are less than 75% owner occupied. Buildings with high rates of owner-occupation tend to be better managed and higher resale values.
9. Look closely at the common spaces: Just like you can tell a lot about a restaurant by the condition of its bathrooms, the condition of its common spaces says a lot about an HOA.
10. Look for zoning changes: Check with the city if there are any nearby projects that will block your view.