One Real Estate Agent’s Unexpected Tip for Buying a Condo Right Now

published Sep 10, 2023
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Thanks to their smaller size, condos have long been some of the most affordable homeownership opportunities available. In today’s high-priced market, they’ve become an even hotter commodity for those looking to buy a home.

This has created some fierce competition, leaving many would-be homeowners out in the cold. But the news isn’t all bad, according to Mike Martirena of the Ivan & Mike Team at Compass. There are a few things you can do that will help you in your hunt for a new home.

Why Are Condos So Hot Right Now?

It’s important to understand just why condos are in such high demand before getting into the how of it all. “Condos are an ideal starter home for buyers who want simplicity in running their properties,” says Martirena, who adds that they are also generally a more affordable option and can help homeowners get a more luxurious bang for their buck thanks to all the amenities and perks these properties come with.

“Maintenance is limited to the interior of your apartment, and you don’t have to worry about yards, gardening, pools, etcetera,” he continues. “The condo market is very dynamic across the country but ultimately, like all real estate, the health of purchase comes down to hyper-local dynamics such as the neighborhood, schools in the area, street, and even the condo’s floor and view exposures.”

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You Need To Do Your Homework

So, how can you get a leg up on a condo? Martirena says you’ll have to put in some work. “Being well-researched and prepared gives buyers an advantage and peace of mind,” he says. “I cannot stress the importance of understanding the condo association rules enough.”

After you’ve gotten a good grasp of the rules that govern the condo building you hope to live in, Martirena says you should consider reaching out to the building’s board and asking for a copy of the minutes from the last association meeting. “This will give you a true picture of your financial health and a holistic look at any vulnerabilities in the building that could impact your fees, resale value, and more,” he says. “Rules can be buried within dense text that affects your daily life. Take the time to be diligent and work with an agent or attorney who examines these details with you.”

Stay Prepared 

Another tip? Stay “laser-focused” on the building you want to move to. “New development tends to bring more new development, which means you’ll likely have options where there is already existing inventory,” Martirena says. 

“Be prepared with financing and be open to purchasing while a building is under construction if you have a multi-year time horizon,” he continues. “These purchases require incremental down payments versus a lump sum of 20 percent down.” 

Buyer Beware

While Martirena does think that condos are a great way to score a home of your own, he advises against jumping into anything without doing your due diligence. “Beware of high turnover in condo buildings where there are a number of units on the market,” he says. “This could signal structural or maintenance issues or upcoming assessments that will impact (and likely increase) fees.”