5 Tips for Buying a Condo in 2023

Purchasing a condo can be an exciting yet daunting experience. As condos grow in popularity in the United States, it’s important to be prepared before taking the plunge into condo ownership. Follow the five tips given in this article to ensure your condo purchase goes as smoothly as possible.

But first:

What Is the Best Place to Buy a Condo?

Certain cities and neighborhoods offer smarter condo buying options based on factors like affordability, amenities, and future resale value. Researching the local housing market and consulting with a real estate agent who specializes in condos can provide valuable insights into your specific area.

For example, Austin’s growing population is driving a surge in downtown condo construction, with more and more people seeking conveniently located housing in the heart of the Texas capital. Downtown Austin appeals to young professionals and empty nesters alike, with its vibrant food and music scene sweetening the deal.

New high-rise and mid-rise developments in the area feature upscale amenities such as rooftop fitness centers and clubrooms. With the added advantage of a waterfront lifestyle offered by properties such as the Milago Austin condos, the appeal of downtown Austin living is undeniable.

Questions to Ask Before Buying a Condo

Buying a condo differs from purchasing a single-family home, and asking the right questions upfront prevents surprises down the road.

Here are some questions to ask before buying a condo:

  • What percentage of units are owner-occupied? A high percentage often means more owners share maintenance costs.
  • How much are the monthly condo association fees? Fees cover amenities, insurance, maintenance, etc. Make sure they fit your budget.
  • Are there any restrictions? Some condos prohibit pets, rentals, and renovations. Know the rules before making the purchase.
  • What’s the average vacancy rate? A low vacancy rate indicates strong demand. High vacancies may signal problems.
  • How much are property taxes? Condo taxes are usually higher than single-family homes. Make sure to calculate them into your housing budget.
  • What’s the financial health of the condo? Request financial statements and meeting minutes to assess the reserves and maintenance issues.

Asking the right questions sets proper expectations about the costs, responsibilities, and benefits of condo living. Do your due diligence before signing the dotted line.

Condo Buying Tips for a Trouble-Free Experience

Beyond asking the right questions, follow these condo-buying tips to avoid any headaches later on:

1. Go for Condominiums with a View

When purchasing a condominium, aim for units with attractive views if possible. Waterfront properties with scenic vistas, oceans, lakes, or rivers are high-value investments and tend to sell faster than units without them.

Additionally, cityscape views of skylines and landmarks appeal to many buyers. They reduce feelings of being boxed in and provide aesthetically pleasing scenery to enjoy. 

Therefore, make sure to consider these points when buying a condominium: 

  • Corner units with large windows on two sides offer more expansive views and plenty of natural light.
  • Views get better on higher floors, so consider units on the top half of the building.
  • Properties with views often yield a high Return on Investment (ROI) when reselling.

That said, keep in mind that views often come with premium prices. Factor in potentially higher taxes, homeowners’ association fees, and closing costs.

2. Get Your Condo Inspected 

Before finalizing any condo, make sure to inspect both the individual unit and shared elements. 

Carefully assess the condition of the roofing, plumbing, HVAC systems, electrical systems, and building façade. Watch for signs of leaks, cracks, or structural issues that could be costly to repair. Also, verify that any renovations or upgrades done on the unit comply with local building codes. 

Spotting problems early provides leverage to renegotiate the price or walk away from a problematic property. Additionally, it will save you from wasting money on something that can’t be repaired. 

3. Check on Maintenance Records

When evaluating a condo, closely review maintenance records to see if the property is well-managed. 

Look for regular upkeep and timely repairs of common areas like lobbies, hallways, and amenities. Also, probe the status of the reserve fund balance to ensure there are adequate savings set aside for future major work. 

You want to avoid a situation where you are charged for a new roof or other extensive project. Make sure diligent maintenance is a priority for the condo association.

4. Avoid Noisy Areas

Pay close attention to the location of the unit within the building layout. 

Units situated near busy common areas like the lobby, elevators, communal spaces, and mechanical systems tend to suffer more noise issues.

Corner units also pick up more external street noise from multiple directions. Try to inspect the property at different times of day to detect sound problems. If possible, go for a top-floor unit to cut down on noise.

5. Look for the Amenities

Modern condo buyers often expect amenities like swimming pools, fitness centers, club rooms for events, and more. Similarly, newer condo buildings tend to offer lavish recreational facilities to attract buyers. 

Make sure the amenities in the condo match your lifestyle needs and preferences. Also, confirm if they are exclusively for owners or non-residents.

Taking account of amenities beforehand allows you to make an informed decision. Also, they make a great case for increasing your property’s resale value. 

What amenities should I look for in the condo?

Though amenities vary from condo to condo, here are some top ones that can increase the overall appeal of your property:

  • Swimming pool
  • Fitness center with weights and cardio equipment
  • Clubhouse or lounge with full kitchen and entertainment
  • Outdoor patio with grills and a firepit
  • Dog park or dog washing station
  • 24/7 concierge service
  • Security features like secured entry and cameras
  • EV charging stations
  • Bike storage room
  • Rooftop terrace
  • Business center with computers, printer, and conference room

Final Thoughts

Condos make a great choice for buyers wanting low-maintenance living. But do your homework before purchasing a new property. Ask the right questions, scrutinize the building, and choose the right unit. Location and amenities also impact satisfaction and resale value. Follow these tips to find a condo that meets your needs and avoid any unwelcome surprises.