What do you look for in a condo? Because condominiums tend to be both larger and more complex than apartment housing, picking a condo can prove more challenging. You can't just look at pretty photos and brochures – you need to know what a great condo project looks like on the ground. Here are the signs to watch for.
Low Vacancy Rates (For Your Area)
This point is common sense but still bears mentioning: Low vacancy rates indicate that a condo is in high demand and that the HOA knows what it's doing. Too many vacancies indicate that there's something wrong with the condominium. However, if possible you should also check for long-term vacancy rates. If people are leaving every year or so, that's another warning sign. If people tend to remain for several years or more, that's a sign of quality. Of course, this is all relative to real estate demand in your area, so don't go in "blind" to current market conditions.
This is also a good place to bring up the issue of rentals. The magic number for rentals tends to be around 40% for most condos – higher than that, and problems start to develop. The best condos tend to have far lower rental rates, since property management favors owners over transient tenants. However, this balance can also change from market to market, so research remains important.
No Trouble Spots
It's easy for a HOA to make the front lawn and sign look pretty. It's a lot harder to take care of all the property. When inspecting condos for sale, look around carefully. Examine the carpet in the lobby, the corners of the grounds hidden from the street, the windows that face inner courtyards, balconies, and more. If you find a lot of trouble spots filled with dust or trash, or suffering from poor maintenance, then you have a problem. If the property is well maintained inside and out, then the HOA management has the necessary resources and workers to do a good job.
Ongoing (and Complete) Communication
Make sure that the homeowners association and other condo leadership knows how to communicate promptly and effectively. Problems and requires should be clearly stated and easy to understand. Take a moment to look for a bulletin board, forum or online blog where you can get an idea of the property management communication style.
A Useful Online Presence
Speaking of online communication, check to see if the property management system includes a full website – not just a page with a phone number. This indicates enough savvy to provide competent tech tools to condo members, and it will make many things, include fee payments, much easier.
Interestingly, one of the better indications of a good condo is that it's easy to get a loan for it. Most mainstream lenders won't provide loans for a condo if there's something seriously wrong with the property or its finances. You can review some financial information yourself, but for a more in-depth recommendation, find out what your loan officer says.
For more information or to request a quote, contact Gassen Companies here.