Searching for a condo can be a bit of a different journey than hunting for a single family home. Each building or development has it’s own personality and finding the right fit can take some research and working with an agent that is experienced in condo sales. I often find that my clients will eventually narrow their search to a building(s) that they love and wait for the right unit to come available.
I recommend scheduling an hour to do a driving tour where you can get a feel for all of the options downtown from Downtown South (think Hillmount and Tapestry Square) to Downtown North (think Monroe Terrace and Boardwalk), to the West (new Seventh Street Lofts Development and Union Square) to the East (new Belknap Hill development) and everything in between (Monroe Center, The Fitzgerald, Plaza and more).
Below is a checklist I’ve developed based on what I’ve found are the most important criteria for condo buyers.
1. Is the building warrantable? Does it allow conditional financing like FHA or VA?
This is the first and most important qualification for your search. A building is deemed warrantable based on several factors, and the status of the building can change. If you are planning to take out a new mortgage make sure you use a lender who is experienced in condo sales. This really matters, don’t just assume your lender understands the process. If you are qualified for FHA, VA or other conditional financing make sure you know which buildings are already certified. Doing your due diligence up front on financing will make the process much smoother once you’re ready to make an offer.
2. Be aware of new developments around the building.
Make sure you’re aware of new buildings and development around the building. You don’t want to move in to then realize your view is about to be significantly altered.
3. Do your due diligence on the association.
Understanding the association is an important part of your research. You do not want to end up in a situation where your dues rise or you weren’t in the know about a large assessment coming down. Ask the association how much the dues have risen over the last few years and when the last large assessment was. You can also ask for past meeting notes and the budget as these qualify as public information.
If you are planning to renovate your unit make sure you also ask for specific clarification on what can or has been allowed in the past. Some buildings downtown have historical elements that may not be changed.
4. Is the building pet friendly?
I know this may seem obvious, but our furry friends can hinder a sale. If you have cats and dogs make sure you understand the rules, and if your pet needs to be vetted before moving in.
5. Can you rent your condo?
Sometimes condo buyers have the long term vision of renting the condo after having lived in it. This is a great way to step into real estate investments. Make sure your building allows for renting and isn’t only owner occupied.
6. Know your parking options.
Aside from knowing where you can park, make sure you understand all of the options for your guests as well. While we continue to grow as a city, most of our downtown residents drive their own cars. Will you have access to a garage? Will it have assigned spots? Do you need to purchase parking spots on top of the cost of the unit? How much is the lot across the street?