Owning a home can be a lot of work especially when you live in Massachusetts! Anyone who lived here during the winter of 2015 remembers the seemingly never-ending snow storm after snow storm! With a foot in some places last week and blizzard warnings for the next two days, here we go again! After the snow is done, there's fixing the roof, repairing the siding, landscaping - there's always something...
Condominium living is exactly the right lifestyle for a lot of people. If you are a first time home buyer, you can generally get more living space for the same price as a single-family home, developments tend to be newer, and some offer amenities such as swimming pools, tennis courts, fitness centers.
If you’re just too busy or not interested in working around the house, owning a condo may be for you; the exterior maintenance is taken care of by the homeowner association so you don’t have to be concerned about painting, landscaping, snow plowing, roof replacement, etc. – the benefits of home ownership without the work!
A lot of empty-nesters also like the idea of simplifying and having someone else take care of things. Wouldn’t it be nice to just lock the door and go somewhere warm next winter without having to worry about anything? Sounds perfect if you’re someone who wants easy living; doesn’t mind having close neighbors; is OK with letting other people make decisions for you or is willing to volunteer to be on the Homeowners Association Board. You won’t mind trading some personal freedoms in return for convenience, right?
A condominium is a form of ownership that includes a divided interest - your unit, an undivided interest - common property, and exclusive use areas, ie. decks, parking spaces, some landscaped area. A condominium can be an apartment-style, an attached townhouse, a detached single-family home, a townhouse in a duplex or a tri-plex, or a floor in what was previously a multi-family house. Some communities have age restrictions and are for active-adults who are 55+ or older.
Regardless of the style of the home or the size of the development, all condominiums have homeowner associations, known as HOAs and have rules and a Board of Trustees that govern the community. Offers to purchase a condominium should always include a contingency that says the offer is subject to satisfactory review/acceptance of all documents… Most HOA rules are pretty standard, and your attorney can tell you which ones you can expect to find in most places, however, communities can and do amend the rules over the years so rules can vary.
Parking and pets seem to be the biggest issues but there may also be rules holiday decorations, gardening, decks, facility usage; bicycle and baby carriage storage, any selling or rental restrictions – these days many developments will not allow investors … Some associations dictate what vendors you can use to replace the windows – yes, units owners are often responsible for windows, doors; know what you will be responsible for.
The lender will review the budget and send a questionnaire asking about the overall well being of the development – i.e. number of owner occupied units, if there are any pending lawsuits, special assessments; but as the buyer, it is really important for YOU to read the rules. Only you can know if you’ll be comfortable living by the rules that govern the condo development you’ll be sharing; and the best time to do that is before you make an offer. Once you accept the condominium rules (or not) you can move forward and enjoy the lifestyle that’s right for you!