buying your first home - what you should know

Buying A Condo: What To Know

Buying a condominium unit can seem like a great choice over a single family home for a number of reasons. The units are typically cheaper than a house, so you can free up other money for personal pursuits. You will no longer be responsible for raking leaves or mowing grass, and you don't have to worry about maintenance and repairs on the appliances and structures inside your unit. However, you need to be aware of some things before you buy a condo so that you are comfortable and happy with your new home. Here are two things you should know about before buying a condo unit.

Look at Bylaws

You might be vaguely aware of the homeowners' association (HOA) that exists to oversee the units in any condominium development. These organizations create bylaws that are voted on by unit owners or approved by the board to govern life inside the development. Generally, the bylaws are in place to make things comfortable for all that live within the development. However, bylaws can affect you in a number of ways you don't expect.

For instance, the bylaws might cover how many pets you're able to have and how many guests you can have over at one time. The bylaws might dictate how many parking spaces you're allowed to have. Because the bylaws are concerned that the overall look of the condominium development remains consistent, there might even be rules about what kinds of new windows you put in and what kind of lawn furniture you can have.

To find out what bylaws are in place before you buy a unit, head to the HOA office in the development to get a copy.

Check Out Financials

When you move into a condo unit that you have purchased, you will be paying HOA fees in addition to your personal mortgage. These fees go toward maintenance and other common areas and interests. That's why it's important that you look into the financials of any development before you buy a unit. For example, if there are sudden jumps in spending over the past year or two, you might need to ask questions of the HOA or other owners in the development to find out why those spikes are happening and how that might affect you.

If there are a lot of units that are being rented, you also need to be aware of that. At times, renters don't have the same at stake as owners of units, so they may fall behind in fees and you and others might have to pick up the slack.

With this information, you can better determine which condominium unit in your area you should purchase. Work with realtors and condominium developers to find the unit that is most comfortable for your pocketbook and your life.