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Cindy Davis' Blog

By Cindy Davis | Broker in San Diego, CA

Notes on Buying a Condo

As with most things in life, there are pros and cons. The decision to buy a condo versus a house is no different. I've always felt that condos and townhomes (condos with attached garages) have a place for busy working people, but there are certainly things to investigate.

Among the things I like is the fact that someone else does the maintenance. I can lock the door and travel, and enjoy the free time that I do have. In addition, most condo complexes here in San Diego have a swimming pool, gym, game room, etc. These common areas can offer the opportunity to meet one's neighbors more readily than if you are in a single family home.

I commonly hear from buyers that they don't want to pay the HOA fee. These are a concern and some are better than others. Each San Diego community has some complexes that do a better job of maintenance and charge lower than average fees. I can always point these out to you. HOA fees typically go up every year.
When buying a home, think about the cost of property insurance, yard maintenance, termite maintenance, roof repair, water, and trash. Factor in the time you would spend with maintenance work. Then compare this with an HOA fee.

Additionally with condos, it is of the utmost importance to examine the financial and legal well-being of the complex. With the past few years being wrought with foreclosures and short sales, homeowners have often stopped paying their HOA dues. This can threaten the stability of the HOA. How are reserves? Are their adequate funds to cover any upcoming repairs?

Litigation has also been quite common in San Diego condo complexes. With the wave of condo conversions, and new condo development, it is not at all uncommon to see HOA associations sue the developer for defects in the property. When there is litigation going on, it is typically difficult to obtain financing for the property. This in turn deflates the property values.

Lastly, you want to really look at the CC&R's - those are the rules and regulations for the complex. It is important to note if they association allows the things that you wish to do with the property. Among other things, you will want to know the pet restrictions, any limitations on business use, vacation rentals, etc.

In summary, condos and townhomes have their place. Whether to buy a condo or a house is a financial decision, and one of lifestyle. Feel free to consult with me when making this choice for yourself and your family!


By Derek Rotzinger,  Thu Oct 13 2011, 09:05
Great info Cindy. I have a client that doesn't want to pay an HOA that includes things they won't use (tennis courts, pools, etc.) Amenities may be great, but if you don't use them, you have to pay for them anyway.
By Deborah Garvin,  Thu Oct 13 2011, 11:31
Cindy, Great information! Particularly about the prospect of litigation with many of the downtown projects. There are several already in litigation and word on the street is that there may be more coming. Any litigation pretty much shuts down any financing opportunity in a complex...for either buying or refinancing. Excellect assessment and evaluation article.
By Timothy M. Garrity,  Thu Oct 13 2011, 12:11
Being a condo expert is a great way to develop a niche.

There are lots of agents who don't like dealing with them.


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