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Old 03-15-2015, 07:13 PM
 
Location: Grove City, Ohio
10,135 posts, read 12,392,750 times
Reputation: 13985

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I never thought a condo would be in my future but in all seriousness it is starting to look like a better option for us.

Until the past few weeks I never seriously entertained the thought and now here I am!

I am looking at a two bedroom/two bath condo and driving through the area is very well maintained in an excellent area close to doctors, hospital, shopping and family.

I showed it to my wife and she got all excited over it. The downstairs contains a master bedroom with its own bath and the bath downstairs. The bedroom up is really a large loft area that would work well for family and guests.

1,300 sq ft but open floor plan with back fenced porch for privacy.

Property has a swimming pool which I like because it would give the grand kids a reason to come over and see grandma and grandpa especially on hot summer days.

HOA fee is $140/month and I am assuming that takes care of everything outside. Things like yard work, sweeping and snow shoveling if you get snow?

It is not a retirement community but most people I see are 55 and older and I like to see kids around so that isn't an issue.

So give me your pluses and minuses.

Thanks
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Old 03-15-2015, 07:47 PM
 
Location: Florida
5,257 posts, read 3,023,279 times
Reputation: 9596
We are in our 3rd condo and would not consider anything else. I was a road warrior when we bought the first one. Being free of exterior maintenance meant we could go to the beach, boating and other free time activities. The pool was a social focal point with our neighbors.

We were retired when we bought the second one in Arizona which was in a 55+ community. Again we would not as retirees go to anything else.

We recently returned to Florida and to another 55+ community and expect to remain here permanently. Some folks who want to be around kids volunteer at local schools.
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Old 03-15-2015, 07:52 PM
 
Location: Dallas, TX and Las Vegas, NV
5,699 posts, read 4,427,152 times
Reputation: 11690
I have owned condos as rental properties and now we just moved into one as retirees from our large single house. Love the freedom and ours is close to public transportation and all one level. We love it!
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Old 03-15-2015, 08:04 PM
 
Location: Near a river
16,042 posts, read 18,985,208 times
Reputation: 15649
I have been in friends' condos and the only downside I've seen (heard) is noise from neighbors, sometimes a loud TV or bumps in the wall or voices (and smoke) on adjoining balconies, but more typically cars driving in and out from the parking areas in front of the condos. If you are not overly sensitive like me, you should be fine. If your parking lot is not right out front, that is a big plus.
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Old 03-15-2015, 08:04 PM
 
Location: Los Angeles area
14,018 posts, read 17,747,361 times
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First, here in California if the condo does not have neighbors either above you or below you, but only to one or both sides, we call them townhouses. Legally they are still condos but in real estate parlance they are townhouses.

Thirteen years ago, three and a half years before I retired, I bought a townhouse because I noticed that they were cheaper than single family homes for the equivalent living space. I like mine, I like my neighborhood, and I like my neighbors in the other townhouses. Where to start?

1. Read the rules before even making an offer! Be sure that you can live with them. Not all condos have the same rules.

2. Look into the finances of the HOA (home owners' association). Do they have adequate reserves? Do the outsides of the units look well-maintained? Ask how long the monthly fees have been at their current level. If it's a long time, an increase may be in the cards sooner rather than later.

3. Talk to some other owners, preferably both board of director members and non-board members. Ask about the atmosphere and how rules are enforced. Some places are pleasant and others are contentious. Ask about whether there is good sound insulation if you share common walls. I share a common wall on both sides (but not above or below) and we can't hear anything from neighbors unless windows are open.

4. How old are the units? If there is a lot of exterior wood and if the units are older, there will be expenses involved in repainting, repairing wood rot, and so on.

5. If one of your great loves is gardening, a condo may not be for you. I have no interest in it and I'm glad the association pays for a gardener to come once a week.

6. We have 26 units. The board of directors consists of five members, elected annually by the homeowners. (In Calif. there are very strict laws regarding the transparency of elections and homeowner rights via a vis the board.)

I have been on the board almost since I bought and moved in (not many people wish to serve), so over that period of 13 years I have learned a thing or two. I finally became president of the board about 8 months ago and I've learned an additional thing or two since then.

We had two women who had a Nazi-like approach to rules. The more picayune the rules were, the more they loved them. I fought them for years, arguing for a more relaxed and more reasonable stance. Finally there was a homeowners' revolt, and people actually organized to pool their votes and put forward new candidates. Two old members were voted out, two new members were voted in, and I was elected president. (The board elects its own officers). I can now count on a majority of four votes on most matters and things have become much more pleasant.

But that doesn't mean there aren't rules, and that rules aren't enforced. If you want bright pink curtains or shades (I mean the color showing on the outside), that will not fly here. We feel it would make the place look like a shanty town and would adversely affect property values.

We have a pool, and our buildings are 33 years old. Both those factors tend to make for high monthly fees, as the association is responsible for all exterior maintenance. We pay $325 a month, which includes trash pick-up, water, gardening, pool maintenance, insurance on the exterior of the buildings, and the biggie - exterior maintenance.

My townhouse has two bedrooms plus a loft, two and a half baths, a combined living room/dining room, and a smallish kitchen with built-ins. It has a two-car garage and laundry area. It is on four levels: garage and laundry area on the bottom, living/dining/kitchen/half bath on the main level, both bedrooms, each with a full bath, above the main level, and the loft on the "fourth floor" (or third floor if you don't count the garage). The master bedroom has a cathedral ceiling which slopes up to the loft and which give the master bedroom a very spacious feeling.

There are pluses and minuses to condo living. I love being able to make arrangements for the mail and the newspaper, lock the doors, and take off for an indeterminate amount of time.

Bottom line - do your homework before even making an offer!

Last edited by Escort Rider; 03-15-2015 at 08:28 PM..
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Old 03-15-2015, 08:17 PM
 
2,934 posts, read 3,054,759 times
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Condo is short for Communism, everybody equal, need permission to do anything, can't change anything, ! But- it is perfect for some people. I built, and maintained and manged an 80 unit Condo for over 30 years and I should have written a book about it or made a TV series. The stories , personalities, arguments, and ideas were amazing. It's a world onto it's own. I think it takes a certain type of person to live and enjoy a condo but they certainly have their place . But check it out thoroughly before buying.
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Old 03-15-2015, 08:36 PM
 
Location: Los Angeles area
14,018 posts, read 17,747,361 times
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One more thing, a very important thing. Following California practice, we board members do not handle money or write checks. We have a bonded management company that does that. We, as a board, hire contractors, approve contracts, and approve payments to vendors - but the management company makes the payments following our instructions. Our monthly fees are sent to (collected by) the management company.

If I were looking at a condo where the board members themselves - who are nothing but fellow homeowners serving as volunteers - actually handle the money and write the checks, I would run like hell.
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Old 03-15-2015, 08:38 PM
 
48,516 posts, read 83,966,925 times
Reputation: 18050
Quote:
Originally Posted by newenglandgirl View Post
I have been in friends' condos and the only downside I've seen (heard) is noise from neighbors, sometimes a loud TV or bumps in the wall or voices (and smoke) on adjoining balconies, but more typically cars driving in and out from the parking areas in front of the condos. If you are not overly sensitive like me, you should be fine. If your parking lot is not right out front, that is a big plus.
Yep; its kind of like apartment in that respect. I also do not like the fact that again your relying on other for safety such as fires.
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Old 03-15-2015, 08:46 PM
 
10,818 posts, read 8,069,111 times
Reputation: 17029
Quote:
Originally Posted by nicet4 View Post
HOA fee is $140/month and I am assuming that takes care of everything outside. Things like yard work, sweeping and snow shoveling if you get snow?
Don't assume so.
I know of condos for which the HOA fee goes toward insurance and upkeep of "common" grounds, i.e. parking areas and sidewalks, but they don't cover any outside or individual yard or landscape maintenance at all. Many don't even cover upkeep of roofs or exterior walls or water and power lines. Read the contract.

For example, in my HOA (I live in a single family home but there are condos), the HOA fee for condos covers the roof, exterior stairs, common parking areas, security, and upkeep of the HOA swimming pool, tennis courts, and ponds. Everything else, including exterior walls, landscaping, yard maintenance, and utility lines, is the responsibility of the homeowner.

Last edited by biscuitmom; 03-15-2015 at 08:58 PM..
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Old 03-15-2015, 09:17 PM
 
381 posts, read 352,836 times
Reputation: 1984
Second condo for us. I agree with everything Escort Rider wrote. Do your research.

I like condo living. We also do not have neighbors above or below. We have a townhouse on the end with a two car garage. Very quite and no thru streets. Our unit is 1770 sq ft which gives us 3 bedrooms, 2 1/2 baths. We have no playground equipment or pool in our immediate neighborhood. Recreation facilities are part of the larger planned community. Most residents are young professional or retired. Master bedroom is down, with two beds up plus a small living area and bath up. I feel we could not handle visiting sons/grandkids if our place were smaller. I am not sure 1300 sq ft is doable for visiting relatives. We lived in a 1200 sq ft apartment while waiting for the condo to be finished. One son visited with his two teenage kids. Too small even with a pool right out the front door. The smaller place was fine for our very young grandkids when they came.

I really like our place....and we have lived in many states, many apartments, and have bought 9 houses. I like this one....finally got it right.
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