Friday, June 03, 2011

Is Condo Living Right For You? Read the Rules Before You Buy!

“There are no exceptions to the rule that everybody likes to be an exception to the rule.” Charles Osgood

Prices for condominiums and townhouses have dropped significantly over the past couple of years and buyers are starting to find the Wayland, Sudbury, Maynard, and the towns west of Boston very attractive. 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, especially after this past winter! 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, and won’t mind trading some personal freedoms in return for convenience.

Buyers know that condominiums/homeowner associations have rules that govern the community and offers to purchase a condominium should include a contingency that says the offer is subject to satisfactory review/acceptance of all documents… Most HOA (Home Owner association) 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 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!

About the author: Marilyn Messenger, CRS has sold dozens of condominiums and townhouses (new and resale units) in Sudbury, Wayland, Maynard, and the towns west of Boston since 1993. As a condominium/townhouse owner and former Board of Trustees Member of a 155 unit complex, she knows how first-hand about buying and selling condominiums and about condo living. Ask Marilyn at 508-596-3501 or
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