Marti Pattinson

REALM Real Estate Professionals

14909 Southwest Freeway Suite 102
Sugar Land, TX 77478


Cell: 281-703-0016   
Phone: 281-703-0016 
Fax: 832-690-5987

Housing Trends

December 2017

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Don't Rule Out a Condo

Are you ready to make the move from renter to owner but aren't sure you’re prepared for the maintenance and responsibilities that come with owning a home? Consider purchasing a condominium. In the past, people chose condominiums as a viable option to homeownership because of their affordability. While that may not hold true in every market today, there is another factor you might want to consider: lifestyle choice.

A condominium can be an excellent option for first-time homebuyers and those of you looking to downsize. Typically, condos are smaller, less expensive and may include attractive amenities such as fitness centers or swimming pools. But it’s important to weigh your options before diving in.

Yes, you still get tax breaks
Many of the advantages of owning a single-family home also apply to condominiums. You can deduct your mortgage interest and property taxes from your federal income taxes if you itemize, while increasing your personal wealth by building equity. You also control your own destiny. If you own a condo, there is no landlord to increase your rent or tell you to vacate the property because the owner has decided to occupy it.

Check the fees
Whether you plan to use the amenities or not, you’ll be paying for them. Condo association fees are in addition to your monthly mortgage and can vary greatly from property to property. In some cases, you may even be asked to fork over extra cash for emergency maintenance or repairs. While this may seem burdensome, association fees ensure continued maintenance and protect the value of your property.

Before purchasing a condo, ask questions about the owners association. Find out what percentage of owner-occupied units exist in the complex. Many condo associations find it difficult to enforce homeowners’ rules or guidelines on renters and that could lead to a drop in property value. Ask the president of the owners association or the company that manages the property if there have been any special assessments recently to cover major maintenance or improvement projects. A well-run association plans for these events and will typically set association fees so sufficient reserves exist.

One of the most enticing reasons to buy a condominium rather than a single-family home is that it provides an easier, low-maintenance lifestyle. If this is what you’re looking for, make sure you know what you’re purchasing. Find out exactly what is covered by your owners association dues.

Something else to consider is your inability to make decisions regarding the exterior of your home. Most condo associations have rules and regulations that apply to all co-owners in the complex. If you’re unhappy with a rule, you can always suggest a change, but that doesn’t mean it will happen.

If you plan to purchase a condominium, you might consider buying a residential service contract (also known as a home warranty) specifically for condos that pays for some repairs and replacements of items not covered by your monthly dues.

Lifestyle
Living in a condominium is different from living in a detached residence. Condominium owners often share walls, which may bring back memories of apartment life. Depending on your neighbors, this may not be an issue. But it’s tough to know until that first night. You should also keep in mind that you are buying into a community. The common areas are just that—communal. Don’t expect a solitary late-night dip in the pool.

The benefits outweigh the drawbacks for many people, as condominium sales are rising. Single adults and empty nesters are finding that the condo life offers a sense of connectedness. The trend in urban loft living is a prime example. Although these complexes may have a new name, many of the loft complexes are actually condominiums.

Before buying a condominium, it’s a good idea to talk with several current owners to find out what they like and don't like about the complex. If the property is noisy or the owners association is run inefficiently, you may want to consider buying elsewhere. You might also ask your Realtor if he or she has sold units there before. First-hand knowledge goes a long way.

Source: Texas Association of REALTORS®
Reprinted with permission.