Buying a condo or just considering it? There is a big difference between a house and a condo so it's important to understand what you're getting into before actually getting into it. Downtown Portland has some great buildings with a lot of character and price ranges so if you're considering a condo, read this first.
#1. What's the Developers Track Record?
It might be difficult to get a good idea of what the developer or the builder's original track record is worth but a conversation with the homeowners association should give you some contact information or at least some information to do some research on your own. Bad developers may leave a string of horror stories behind and good developers have good track records.
#2. Check out the location, not just the unit.
It might be difficult to get a good sense of where a condo is located simply by the interior pictures themselves. But developers will usually put condominiums where they fit, but it doesn't mean that it's a good location. Are you close to grocery stores, transit stations, is parking decent? All of these things determine whether the location is a good place or not.
#3. Are you considering resale value?
You might love the house but will anyone else? Ask the Association about resale value and whether or not these units increase in value over the years. Yes, the market changes but if these homes appreciate and earn value, chances are your unit will as well.
#4. What's the ratio of owners to renters?
Many lenders will only finance properties in buildings where there is at least a 50% owner occupied ratio or higher. If most of the units are rented, you may not be able to get financing and again, renters don't always have the best track record for maintaining the integrity of the building. Although that's not always the case, it is something to consider.
#5. Understand your taxes.
Most owners will pay property taxes but new condo owners in certain areas may have to pay speculation fees. Each building may have their own fees such as application fees, association fees, and additional taxes. Understand all of these before finalizing the purchase and sale contract.
#6. Do you love the view now? How about later?
You may buy the unit now because it has a great view but are there plans to obstruct that the later on? This may or may not play into your decision.
#7. Do you like the amenities?
If you like the unit but are paying an exorbitant amount for the amenities that you may or may never use, is it really the best deal for you? Look into all the amenities of the building have and if it's something that you will find value in. If not, the unit might just not work for your situation.
#8. How loud is the building?
This might be something you won't be able to tell before you move in but it would behoove you to spend some time finding out who your neighbors are. If you're looking for a quiet place, you might not want a unit that is populated by younger people and also, noise levels can affect your property's value.
#9. Do the rules work for you?
Condo buildings always have conditions, covenants, and restrictions that all unit owners need to abide by. Do you approve these rules? Ask for a copy of these rules before finalizing your sale.
#10. Do people actually live there?
I know this might sound silly but actually, there's not a lot of absentee owners in the building. Community is important and if you're living in a ghost building, it might actually bring down your property's value. Knock on the doors and see if people actually live there and what they think of the building.
For more information on buying a condo in downtown Portland or surrounding areas like Vancouver and southern cities of Tualatin and Tigard, start browsing on my website for free or simply contact my office to schedule a showing.
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