Thursday, February 12, 2015

Condominiums – Easy Living, Parking, Pets, and Pools


Had Enough?
It's been a tough winter and a lot of homeowners, especially empty-nesters have had enough and are ready to consider condominium living. Empty-nesters have a variety of choices since most of the communities that have been built and that are currently under construction are "active adult" communities that cater to the over 55 home-owner. You not only get an easier lifestyle but also the opportunity for the features you don't have in your current home.

Condominiums are also attractive to first time home buyers. They tend to offer more appropriate living space than 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 condominium at any stage of life may be a good option for you. For the most part, exterior maintenance is taken care of by the homeowner association so you don't have to be concerned about exterior painting, landscaping, snow plowing, roof replacement, etc. - the benefits of home ownership without a lot of the work!

A condominium is a form of home-ownership that can include a variety of home-styles including attached townhouses, detached single-family homes, apartment-style, duplex, or one floor in a multifamily house. Whatever the style of condominium, there will be a Homeowner Association that will govern the according to the master deed and rules and regulations of the entity.

Most homeowner associations (HOAs) 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, pets, and swimming pools seem to be the biggest issues but there may also be rules holiday decorations, gardening, decks, facility usage; bicycle and baby carriage storage, rental restrictions - some communities do not allow any rentals.

Unit-owners are most often responsible for windows and doors and you may be required to take care of some outdoor areas including landscaping, deck maintenance and snow clearing of exclusive use areas – those are areas that are part of the common property but are considered to be part of a unit. Inside the unit, homeowners are responsible for plumbing, electrical, etc. unless these items service more than one condominium unit. While there is certainly less maintenance than living in a single-family home, it is not like living in an apartment where you call the landlord if something goes wrong.

If you are financing your purchase with a mortgage, your lender will review the budget and send a questionnaire asking about the financial condition of the development - i.e. number of owner occupied units, if there are any pending lawsuits, special assessments. 

As the buyer, it is really important for you to read the rules and understand what your responsibilities will be – the ads for “maintenance free” may not be 100% accurate. 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. 

Living in a condominium is a great lifestyle 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 of Trustees, and won't mind trading some personal freedoms in return for convenience.

Once you accept the condominium rules and understand your responsibilities you can move forward and enjoy the lifestyle that's right for you! Check out condominiums for sale.
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Marilyn Messenger has been representing condominium (including new construction) sellers and buyers in Sudbury and the nearby towns west of Boston for 21 years. She served on the Board of Trustees at Deer HedgeRun in Maynard for 2 years and understands how Homeowner Associations function.  MORE...
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