Buying a Condo? 5 Questions You Need to Ask

Real Estate Agent with RealtyQuest/Kinard Realty Group, Fairfield and New Haven County CT Real Estate RES.0781237


The Gardens at Summerfield Condo Shelton CT


Condominium (condo) ownership is very appealing to first-time buyers,  those who are downsizing from a single family home, and those who might be looking for a maintenance-free second home that will be used for vacationing or part-time use. 





Before getting to  5 questions you need to ask before purchasing a condo, here is some general information to help you understand condo ownership.


Regency Meadows Trumbull CTWhat is a condominium?  A condominium can be an apartment styled complex, townhouse, converted multi-family house, or a grouping of single family detached homes the developer has legally declared as a condominium.

Each condo ‘complex’ has specifically designed rules and regulations called CCR's (Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions) which are publicly recorded deed restrictions and/or bylaws which are the rules for management and administration.  


(Tip:  Click any image in this blog post for more information on the complex pictured)


It is very important to understand that while you own the unit, you will have to abide by the rules and regulations regarding usage of common areas, number of pets and sizes, (be diligent on this restriction!) noise levels, and how you may – or may not – be able to modify the exterior of your unit or surrounding common area ... among other things.




L'Hermitage Condo Shelton CTA condo unit owner has ownership of his unit from the walls in.  Then there are ‘common’ areas of the complex including but not limited to outer walls, roofing, walkways, stairways, grounds, pool, tennis courts, clubhouse, roads, and trails.


Who manages the condo complex?  It can either be a group of unit owners who run everything (typical with small complexes), or it can be a professional management company which oversees the entire complex.  

It is important to know who ‘governs’ the complex and how good a job they are doing keeping financials and maintaining units and the whole complex in general. 


When purchasing a condo, here are 5 very important questions that a buyer must get answers to before making a decision to purchase.


Aspen Ridge Condos Shelton CT1.    What is the monthly fee, or common charge, and what does it cover?

The fee and coverage will vary from complex to complex, but generally covers exterior building maintenance, upkeep of grounds and amenities, snow plowing of streets, garbage/recycling removal, and master insurance policy.  If purchasing, this is the first fee a buyer should inquire about since it could affect affordability and financing.



 (Tip:  Click any image in this blog post for more information on the complex pictured)


2.    Are there any pending or planned special assessments? 

Special assessments are a one-time charge usually for a capital improvement like roof replacements, siding or paving that is payable by every unit owner.  This assessment can be quite costly and add considerably to your monthly budget if payments are made over time.  Investigate the history of past assessments.


3.    How much is in reserves? 

Every Homeowners Association (HOA)  should have a capital reserve fund to fund repairs that come up unexpectedly or even the capital improvements as mentioned in #2.  The general rule is the reserve fund should contain at least 10% of the annual revenue budget. If the condo is older, then this reserve should be even higher. Lenders financing a condo purchase look at this reserve fund to gauge the financial health of the association.


4.    Is there any pending litigation against the association?

Lenders look at this as a high risk factor and may deny funding a loan due to the nature of any litigation.


5.    What is the percentage of owner-occupied units in the complex?

What is the complex rental policy.  Many buyers do buy with the intention of living there for a few years then keeping the unit as an investment and renting it out.  Having a high number of renters can spell trouble for resales as well as financing.


Greystone Condos in Shelton CTCondos are a wonderful way to get into the real estate market.  It is a great segue into single family home ownership.  Condos are also the perfect place to live for those who don’t want to do outside work or simply do not have the time to do so. 


Provided you read and understand what the rules and regulations are for the complex you are buying into, and do a little research using the tips above, condo living can be the perfect fit. 




If you are thinking of buying or selling a condo, it is exceptionally important to work with an experienced CT condo listing or buyer’s agent who is familiar with the ins and outs of condo selling and purchasing.  Your buyer’s agent should provide expert assistance in acquiring all the right information.


These 5 questions to ask before buying a condo are a good starting point. Seek out expert assistance AND do your due diligence and you will likely find the right condo for your lifestyle.



Buying a Condo?  5 Questions You Need to Ask



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Les & Sarah Oswald
Realty One Group - Eastvale, CA
Broker, Realtor and Investor


This is a very detailed and informative blog about condo and the 5 essential questions one must ask when confronted with wanting to purchase of condo. Question #5 is also importance for buyers looking to finance their purchase with FHA lending.

Aug 18, 2014 08:03 AM #1
Maria Gilda Racelis
Home Buyers Realty, LLC-Manchester, Bolton. Vernon,Ellington - Manchester, CT
Home Ownership is w/in Reach. We Make it Happen!

Hi Barbara: These are crucial and critical questions that an agent and the buyer need to get answers on before considering buying a condo unit.

Great post.

Sep 18, 2014 10:03 PM #2
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Barbara Altieri

REALTOR-Fairfield County CT Homes/Condos For Sale
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