I'm interested in a condo for a winter retreat. How do I tell if the condo association is financially sound?

Asked by Mary, 04444 Mon Aug 3, 2009

are condos or single family homes a better purchase? would anticipate using the property a few months/year until we retire in 2 years, then probably send 5-6 months in FL and summers in Maine

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Lana Robbins GRI’s answer
Lana Robbins…, Agent, Beach, ND
Mon Aug 17, 2009
Hi Mary.

I work with buyers and sellers and one quality that buyers like about condos is that it is low maintenance. A management company takes care of the grass cutting and weed pulling. It's easier Florida living but it depends on what you enjoy.

As far as an indication if a condo association is financially sound check to see if they have escrow reserves. Escrow reserves can be used as a tool to see if a condo association is financially sound and financially stable.

~ Lana
0 votes
Dallas Texas, Agent, Dallas, TN
Wed Aug 12, 2009
Two concerns have you ever lived in multi family dwelling

Families who move from Single Family home to condo either they love it or HATE IT... we recommend lease a property for 6 months then make a decision expensive sale a property

National Featured Realtor and Consultant, Mortgage Loan Officer, Credit Repair Lecturer
Follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/Lynn911
Web Reference:  http://www.lynn911.com
0 votes
Bill Eckler, Agent, Venice, FL
Wed Aug 12, 2009
Hi Mary,

A winter retreat can bring welcomed relief from those hard northern winters.

You are asking a very good question. One that should be a primary concern when considering purchasing a condo during these times.

Our recommendation is twofold. The number of units that are unoccupied and/or for sale will give you a general feel for its stability. An important note is that banks are now reluctant to finance units where there is high vacancy.

Additionally, we highly recommend accessing the both the annual financial report and the most recent minutes of the HOA that should include a treasurer's report.
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Annette Law…, Agent, Palm Harbor, FL
Mon Aug 3, 2009
Mary, the advise offered by Pam and Bill is very relevant and important to grasp as you progress in your decision making. Your questions are acutely focused on the perils of purchasing into any condo community. However, these perils are not exclusive to condominiums. HOWEVER, if you have the resources and patience to endure several years of instability you can pick up a real deal in contemporary condominiums.

I would be happy to send you my condominium purchase guide that not only itemizes the reports to request but provides calculations for determining adequate reserves. My observations of the area market reflect 55+ communities are demonstrating greater stability than all ages communities.
Drop me a note with your email if you would like the Condominium Buyer Guide.
Annette Lawrence
ReMax ACR Elite Group, Inc
Toll Free: 877. 506. 0428
Web Reference:  http://www.MyDunedin.com
0 votes
Pamela Cohn, Agent, Clearwater, FL
Mon Aug 3, 2009
Hi Mary,

Sounds similiar to our plan back in the 80's before we moved here permanently from Connecticut. When you make an offer on a condo your agent should include an addendum requesting the Condo documents, buget and latest financials. Look at what your monthly fee covers and how well funded those areas are along with what percentage of deliquent dues there are in relation to the complex. If there are several "short sales" or bank owned properties in the same complex this increases the risk factor.

One plus side to a condo vs. single family home, especially for a second home or vacation home, is that someone is maintaining the exterior while you are not here. The flip side is you are paying monthly fees even when you are not here. Remember as a single family owner you would need to hire someone to do many of the same services in your absence.

Which is better depends on your lifestyle. If you are choosing a single family or any "fee simple" property, where you own the land, such as a PUD (planned unit development-meaning they may have multiple types of homes, all owned fee simple i.e. townhomes & villas in the same community or development), the seller may have the HOA (home owner association) documents, but is not required to provide the full documents since they are public record. Through our title company we provide them for our clients when the seller does not. Just like the Condominimum documents, you want to read through them, to make sure they fit your lifestyle and needs. One of the basic things to check for in a vacation or second home is if you have the abililtly to rent it out if you choose to.

If we can be of assistance in your home search let us know. One of our first steps is to set our clients up in Listingbook, which allows you to search properties as they come on the MLS. Let me know if you are interested.


Pam Cohn
Broker Associate GRI, CDM
Prudential Tropical Realty
Clearwater FL 33761
0 votes
Bill Szydlow…, Agent, Tampa, FL
Mon Aug 3, 2009

A competent realtor will be able to talk with the management company, as well as, get a copy of the income statement for the condo complex you are interested in. Most banks are not lending on condos and, those that are, have a list published by the Feds that shows what condo complexes are stable.
I would recommend a townhouse. It has the feature of fee simple ownership (you own the land under it), which banks like(since it is like a single family home), and it has the security of condo ownership, since it is attached to other units and the outside maintenance is taken care of thru a monthly fee.

Let us know if we can help you find either one, as we have done for other customers.

Bill Szydlowski
The Szydlowski Team
Future Home Realty, Inc.
Web Reference:  http://www.tampamyhome.com
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