Condominium living is a popular choice for those seeking convenience and carefree housing ownership. Interest in condos grows when rental markets are tight and interest rates fall, especially among those who prefer the fast-paced urban lifestyle. Prior to such an important purchase, arm yourself with a inspection checklist that will reveal the true physical condition of the condo, as well as the financial condition of the homeowners association. Take a close look, too, at the amenities offered by the condo to be sure it dovetails with your personal style.
Assess the overall curb appeal and attractiveness of the building from your point of view, with eventual resale appeal in mind. You know in your heart if it is a gem or a total dog. Visually inspect each exterior face of the condo from the top to ground level. Check for quality of construction and condition of roof, gutters and chimneys. Look closely at windows and doors, note the general condition and if there is any loose caulking or rotted wood. Inspect wall coverings such as wood, siding or brick, noting any visible rot, loose bricks or paint problems. Scrutinize the foundation, in particular where it meets any porches and decks. Inspect the grounds and landscaping including gardens, walkways, interlocking brick work, sidewalks and driveways.
This is the make-or-break check list. Sure, you might fall in love with a darling unit, but the interior inspection is a reality check. Inspect each interior space, working from the floor to the walls and ending with the ceiling. Then check any appliances or systems in the room. Note the general condition and functionality of systems, and make a record of any problems. Get to the bottom of things, starting with the basement if there is one. Do the wall-floor-ceiling check, then scrutinize the furnace, hot water heater, electrical panel and plumbing. Inspect each room in turn, noting condition of plumbing fixtures, electrical outlets and heat sources. Check for signs of water damage around plumbing fixtures.
Location, Ammenities and Lifestyle
Visualize yourself living in the condo, take a gut check to see if it is really the place for you. Talk to other residents about their experience living in the condo complex. Check the neighborhood to see if it offers shopping and lifestyle choices that appeal to you. Check whether the condo has a pool, exercise facility, storage space, parking and recreational facilities. Ask what the ratio of owner-occupied to rented units is.
Look at the financial condition of the homeowners association, including the amount of cash held in reserve as well as the operating budget. Make note of any costly assessments over the last three years and whether they have been paid off. Check to see if there are upcoming major assessments, maintenance or improvement projects scheduled for the next year, and if the reserves will cover anticipated expenses. Find out whether the HOA is involved in any lawsuits. Ask the amount of your monthly or quarterly association fee or dues.