5 Things to Consider When Buying a Condo

Dawn Griffin Posted by
Buying & Selling Tips Jun 2019

A condo is typically a shared piece of property where individuals own a unit within the building plus a portion of the building’s common spaces and assets. Generally more affordable and easier to maintain than single-family homes, condos can be a great option for those with busy lifestyles because property upkeep is generally included in your HOA fee. Each condominium community has its own rules, fees, management company, and amenities. In St. Louis there is a broad inventory of condos in every price-range – from high-rise buildings, low-rise buildings, townhouses, historic, and new construction – and everything in between. With so many options and considerations, you may be confused about where to start. We can help.

5 things to consider when purchasing a condo

1. condo fees

Condo association fees are calculated based on how many units there are, what it costs to maintain the property both short and long-term, whether or not the community is professionally or self-managed, and funds necessary to set aside for litigation and major repairs. The condo fee usually includes taking care of landscaping, snow removal, painting, and general maintenance repairs. Certain utilities are sometimes included.  This all adds to the ease of ownership.

Victor Condo 3W
Located in a historic 6 unit building just steps away from Tower Grove Park, 3548 Victor #3W is a 2 bedroom, 1.5 bedroom condo with loads of historic details, plus many updates. The beamed ceiling and the window seat in the dining room are warm touches. This condo has in-unit washer and dryer and one garage space. Just 10 minutes to major medical complexes like SLU and Barnes. Listed at $169,900 this unit’s HOA fee is $260/month.

2. Special Assessments

Your monthly condo fee includes contributions to a reserve fund for property repairs. Condo associations may assess separate fees for unexpected expenses or to fund major property improvements like roof replacement or parking lot repaving. In some instances, assessments are tacked on to the monthly condo fees in small amounts until the debt is paid off; in other cases, the assessment is a one-time charge that must be paid by each homeowner as a lump sum. You will want to get a copy of the condo financials to gain a full understanding of fees and assessments.

The condo at 2306 Russell is one of four in this McKinley Heights building, convenient to Lafayette Square, Soulard, and major highways. 2 bedrooms and 1 bath in 1,150 sq. ft. of living space offers plenty of room inside, as well as a great covered rear deck, patio area, and a garage space just steps from the back door. 2306 Russell Unit A is listed at $124,900.

3. Condo Rules and Regulations

Every condo association has rules. Some associations may give owners most of the liberties of owning a stand-alone residence, while other associations’ rules can be quite restrictive. Examples of rules you might find include no pets, no late-night laundry, or no outdoor decorations. The bylaws should also include all the operating procedures and policies for the condo association. Read the condo documents and rules carefully so you fully understand expectations.

Victor Condo 3E
French doors lead to a sundeck at this third-floor condo at 3548 Victor. Unit 2E has stained glass, hardwood floors, and other period details, along with an updated kitchen. 2 bedrooms, 1.5 baths, in-unit washer and dryer, plus a garage space. The vibrant South Grand restaurant district is an easy walk, and the condo is steps from Tower Grove Park. Easy access to highways, medical complexes, and universities from this Tower Grove East spot. Listed at $174,900 this unit’s HOA fee is $260/month.

4. Lifestyle and Location

Condos make ideal homes for those who lead busy lives and don’t spend much time at home and homeowners who want to spend less time and energy on maintenance. If you want a private yard and enjoy rehab projects, obviously, a condo isn’t the ideal scenario. Consider your current and future lifestyle and make sure a condo is the right fit. Likewise, consider the location of the building (access to services, amenities, and public transit) and your unit (corner unit, views) – all of these can impact your quality of life and your resale value.

5. Realtors and Lenders with Condo Experience

The purchase contract for a condo is not the same as it is for single-family residences.  There are different contingencies than the common contingencies found in a residential purchase contract so you will want to work with a REALTOR® experienced in condos so that no detail is missed.

Financing of a condo can be tricky, as many lenders and loan products do not allow condo purchases. Condos are very often purchased with cash due to the regulations of lenders and programs. But an experienced lender can find the right loan product and get you pre-approved.

Bottom Line

Condo living can offer a low maintenance lifestyle at nearly any price point. Ensure your investment is a smart one – do your due diligence. Do not be afraid to ask a lot of questions. We have helped both condo sellers and buyers in St. Louis and we can help you navigate the experience and find your perfect condo home. We have four condos currently available and each one is located in highly desirable neighborhoods, close to parks and other amenities. Contact us today to get started.

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