If you wish to buy a condominium in the downtown area you should know that it is different than buying a home. People tend to think of condos as small houses without the yard work, but in fact, condominiums and homes are on the opposite ends of the spectrum. It is a great time to buy real estate downtown, but you should keep several things you should do when you beginning your search for your new home.
- Learn about the neighborhood and amenities- Especially if you’re moving somewhere specifically for the art of restaurant scene. Nevertheless, you should be as comfortable with the niche of the condominium as the condominium itself. Take time to find out how far the amenities you need and want are from your condo. I recommend walkscore.com to my clients. You can find out how far the closest coffee shop, grocery store, movie theatre, park etc is. This is especially important if you prefer to walk to these places, or say if you’d like to find out if there’s a park nearby to complete your daily morning jog, or walk your dog. You also want to make sure the area is safe. Don’t compromise your safety to live in a cheaper condo that you think is a good deal. You can call the city’s chamber of commerce for a crime data report or ask your realtor. Don’t forget you won’t be living in the suburbs in a single family home, you’ll be in the center of the city which means you’ll be doing a lot more walking or biking; you want to know you’re safe and have amenities close by. Your house will also sell faster if you have more amenities in the area, because it will appeal to as many people as possible.
- Consider buying in up-and –coming areas-many cities have areas downtown which are being development. Ask your realtor is such an area exists. If you find an area which is being gentrified you should consider searching for homes in that area because not only will you get a good deal on a home, but the value of the condo will rise more than the rest of the cities, over time. You’ll be glad you did this because you’ll find yourself living in a new section of downtown where many stores and buildings will be new, and you will make a great chunk of money off your investment when you’re ready to sell.
- Hire a realtor who knows the condo scene and the area- you don’t want to work with a realtor who doesn’t know the area you are looking at well, or one who doesn’t focus specifically on condominiums. You’ll find that having a realtor who focuses on your needs will be able to offer you advice others in the field cannot, such as informing you about condos which have not been put out on the market yet, or about sellers who are about to reduce their price. There are certain legal requirements and potential liabilities involved with downtown condominiums; you need an experienced agent to ensure your best interest is met.
- Browse multiple buildings- to get the feel for different features and offerings. You’ll never know your options until you exhaust your resources, so you don’t want to miss out on an opportunity to find something you really like. Look for a unit with the IT factor while you are browsing, the qualities in a condominium which set it apart and make it incredible. It could be the large deck, the spacious kitchen, the spectacular view, commercial appliance package or beautiful lighting/entertainment. The IT factor will be important down the line because it is important to have something in your condo which stands out because there are many units in the city selling for less than market value. Buying in a depressed market offers buyers an exceptional opportunity to buy diamonds in the rough for bottom line pricing and low rates. Finding a killer condo which has IT can make the difference in selling your house at a good price.
- Ask about condo rules and fees- You should speak with the condo association and ask for a copy of the by-laws or a short list of rules. Make sure you look over the rules well, because once you buy a home, you can’t turn back. If you need one or more parking spaces make sure that you are given those spaces with your home. If you have a pet, you need to find out whether pets are allowed. Some condos do not allow you to paint the walls, or renovating part of your unit. Other condominiums only allow residents to use the swimming pool or common area at certain hours. Some condominiums require residents to end parties at certain hours. Know the condominium rules and regulations so you’re not surprised by anything when you move in.
When you’re searching for a condominium downtown you need to consider much more than price and payment options. Several things should be considered so you feel happy with your new home. This list above is not exhaustive but it will help you get a start on your search, and your realtor can help you with the rest.