Condo buying? Some questions you should ask.

Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams Realty

My last client asked me very kindly, why are there so many additional things we have to ask for before submitting an offer to buy the condominium that I love?  I answered equally as kind, and I quote,  "there are factors that are involved in the purchasing of a condominium that are not always present when buying a single family home".  This led to further discussion regarding the ins and outs of condo buying, culminating in a really great list of questions to ask, or at least find out about, before you submit your offer.  Here is the list:

1.  Make sure to review the condo docs!  This might be one of the most basic, but most important of them all.  And any lawyer worth what they are charging will make this mandatory anyway.  This will ensure you understand the rules and regulations of the condo complex.

2.  Ask for a copy of the association minutes... for the last two years!  This will enable you as the consumer to really understand what is happening in the complex you are interested in.

3.  Tour the property, and spend some time.  Ask the neighbors what they think of the association and those who live there.  This can provide invaluable information that you will never get from any document.

4.  Find out how many of the condos in the complex are "rentals only", and how many possibly will be in the future.  Condominium complex managers will often "fill" the unsold condos with rentals.  Something to consider as the consumer.

5.  What about pets?  Most condominium documents will list whether pets are allowed or not; but find out if there are any restrictions regarding both the type and the number of pets occupants may have.  This could save you a whole lot of trouble later on if you know going in that if you do purchase the condo, Fido has to live elsewhere.

6.  Can you sublet or rent if necessary?  Again, the documents you receive should cover this, but they may not.  Ask, and you should be given an answer.


I hope this list helps some of you out there if you are thinking about purchasing your first condominium.  As with any property purchase, excitment is a big part of the process.  However, some really small details taken care of in the beginning can save a whole host of problems later.


Happy hunting!

Comments (35)

Patricia Aulson
Realtor - Portsmouth NH Homes-Hampton NH Homes

Very good post today, thank you so much for getting it out to us today.

Patricia/Seacoast NH & ME

Nov 24, 2010 10:27 AM
Peter Michelbach

Chris thanks for sharing - awesome - great list and comments too! Peter from 'down under'

Nov 24, 2010 10:58 AM
Alex Morris - Austin Real Estate Agent
Austin, TX

All great tips.  Congrats on the feature.  I did not read through all of the comments, but checking out the financial state of the HOA is huge.  There is one here in town that is bankrupt thanks to some shady practice, and HOA fees tripled AFTER an assessment.  Ugly.  Now they can't sell because of the high fees.

Nov 24, 2010 12:29 PM
Fred Griffin Florida Real Estate
Fred Griffin Real Estate - Tallahassee, FL
Licensed Florida Real Estate Broker

Buying a Condominium here in Florida can be like stepping on a Land Mine.  So many Associations are in Financial Disarray.

Fortunately, our State Laws (Florida Statutes Chapter 718 and others) are Very Protective of Condo Buyers. 

When Buying from a Developer, F.S. 718.503 Mandates a 15-day "Free Look", during which time the Buyer can walk.   When Buying from a Non-Developer (Resale),  Buyers get a 3-Business Days Free Look.


Nov 24, 2010 01:12 PM
Kimberly Brandon
Smart Moves Real Estate - Venice, FL

Great insight......I appreciate you taking time to post!

Nov 24, 2010 01:20 PM
Marney Kirk
Cummings & Co. Realtors - Towson, MD
Towson, Maryland Real Estate

Hi Christopher! Great list! I also agree with one other to add to the list about whether it is approved for FHA financing under the new rules beginning in two weeks.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Nov 24, 2010 02:00 PM
Jon Zolsky, Daytona Beach, FL
Daytona Condo Realty, 386-405-4408 - Daytona Beach, FL
Buy Daytona condos for heavenly good prices

Christopher. I live in a condo, and I am selling condos. Good list, and, hopefully, people know what they are doing buying a condo.

A lot of aggravation comes not from the problem with the  property, but from wrong expectations.


Nov 24, 2010 02:20 PM
Christine Donovan
Donovan Blatt Realty - Costa Mesa, CA
Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M

Condos have different considerations from single family homes, and these are good questions.

Nov 24, 2010 03:29 PM
Curt Baumgarth
Mesa, AZ

Number 4 is a big one for many buyers and always something we should look into for clients.

Nov 24, 2010 04:56 PM
Bob & Leilani Souza
Souza Realty 916.408.5500 - Roseville, CA
Greater Sacramento Area Homes, Land & Investments

Christopher, you mention some excellent points in your list of questions when buying a condo. Another important thing to find out is if the HOA is in litigation of any sort...many times, lenders will NOT finance condos if there is pending litigation. :)


Nov 24, 2010 06:13 PM
Lawrence "Larry" & Sheila Agranoff. Cell: 631-805-4400
The Top Team @ Charles Rutenberg Realty 255 Executive Dr, Plainview NY 11803 - Plainview, NY
Long Island Condo and Home Specialists

We agree with all and make sure if you are going for a FHA that the association accepts it...not all communities accept these if they don't have surety bond.

Nov 24, 2010 11:13 PM
Claudette Millette
The Buyers' Counsel - Ashland, MA
Buyer, Broker - Metrowest Mass

Buying a condo is definitely more complicated than purchasing a single family. All of these questions need to be covered - and more.


Nov 25, 2010 12:13 AM
Michael Cantwell
Guild Mortgage - NMLS ID #3274 - Jupiter, FL
Homes For Wealth



Congrats on the feature.  Two other items that are tripping up the loans for condo buyers in Florida are the amount of reserves held by the association.  They must be at least 10% to be warrentable to the agencies.  Only the number of homeowners that are delinquent on their dues cannot exceed 15%.



Nov 25, 2010 12:38 AM
Bill Gillhespy
16 Sunview Blvd - Fort Myers Beach, FL
Fort Myers Beach Realtor, Fort Myers Beach Agent - Homes & Condos

Hi Chris,  Great list.  Potential buyers should also speak with the association president to determine pending assessments, health of the assoc, etc.

Nov 25, 2010 03:53 AM
Richie Alan Naggar
people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
agent & author

In todays market, these condo questions can come in pretty handy. BTW, If you have ever want to get a good nights rest, just  read the CC&R's of any association...whew!

Nov 25, 2010 04:02 AM
DeeDee Riley
Lyon Real Estate - El Dorado Hills CA - El Dorado Hills, CA
Realtor - El Dorado Hills & the Surrounding Areas

Christopher, this is a great list!  And some of these things may not matter now but down the road my be very important to the owner. FHA is very strict on loans for condos and many of these questions are part of their approval or not.

Nov 25, 2010 05:19 AM
Christopher L. Arienti
Keller Williams Realty - Franklin, MA

Thank you everyone for the wonderful comments!  Best of success to you all.

Nov 26, 2010 12:49 AM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Boy I'm glad I live in the woods. I can't imagine living anywhere that someone else could tell me whether or not I could have a dog - or a cat. But then, I can't imagine living in the same building with a bunch of other people, either.

To each his own - and a good thing we don't all want the same thing.

Nov 26, 2010 04:35 PM
Margaret C. Taylor
Century 21 New Millennium MD - Mechanicsville, MD
St Marys/Calvert/Charles MD Real Estate Agent

This is a great list and all the additional items in the comment section.  Thanks everyone.  Margaret C.

Nov 27, 2010 05:11 PM
Dennis Neal
RE/MAX, Big Bear - Big Bear Lake, CA
Your Home Sold in 21 Days or We Sell It For Free

Thanks for the post. These are all great points.

Dec 01, 2010 05:26 AM