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Condo Buying Tips

Tips for Buying a Condo or Townhouse

Buying a condo is a great option for many investors and home buyers. Many home buyers start with purchasing a condo as their first home. Others downsize at various stages in their lives to eliminate maintenance, such as lawn care and snow removal. Whatever your reason is for buying a condominium in Massachusetts, it is important to enter the condo home-buying process with eyes wide open. It is not the same as buying a house.

When you buy a condo you are buying a property AND you are buying into an association. So what does the condo buyer need to know to make an informed and wise decision?

Condos - Be an Informed Condo Buyer

The property: As with buying a home, gather in writing all the specifications of the condo including square footage and floor plan and a clear delineation of what you will own (ask about decks and porches) and what will be common area. This sounds basic, but our experience has proven that many home buyers learn too late that their square footage is actually a fraction of what they thought. Don't assume what you will own. Ask and get it in writing, then hire a professional inspector to evaluate the property and the buildings.

The association: You are also buying into an association and your due diligence is as important in evaluating the association as it is with evaluating the property. Buyer beware! In evaluating the condo association, be sure to include the following:

  • Speak to current owners to ask them about level of satisfaction, responsiveness of the association, meetings, and any issues. Know in advance if the others living in the property are renters or owners.
  • Review the bylaws and understand your rights of ownership.
  • Who are the trustees and what is their general approach in terms of taking care of the building (and your investment)?
  • Is the building self-managed or is there an outside firm involved in building management?
  • What is the financial condition of the association? Is it solvent and are there adequate reserves – or do they depend on special assessments to maintain the building?
  • What are the condo fees for the unit you’re considering buying?
  • What is the history of assessments? Are there any assessments in the works?
  • Does the association have a long-term plan for maintenance and/or upgrades to the building?
  • In addition to the master deed and bylaws, are there any rules and regulations currently in place or being contemplated?

Latest from the Blog

  • Closed Home Sales Down in April After Record Inventory Lows and Rising Prices

    Median Sales Prices Have Seen Year-Over-Year Increases for 19 Straight Months

    WALTHAM, Mass. – May 23, 2017 – The Massachusetts Association of Realtors® (MAR) reported today that low inventory and rising prices caught up to the spring market, with single-family home sales decreasing over eight percent from this time last year. Both single-family and condominium prices saw a hike. Condominium sales decreased almost 10 percent from April 2016.

    April Closed Sales:

    Single-Family April 2017 April 2016 %Change
    Sales 3,735 4,082 -8.5%
    Median Price $362,500 $349,900 +3.6%
    • Closed sales have been down for four out of the last 12 months
    • Median prices have been up or flat for 16 out of the last 17 months
    Condominium April 2017 April 2016 %Change
    Sales 1,455 1,607 -9.5%
    Median Price $345,000 $329,950 +4.6%
    • Closed sales have been down for four out of the last 12 months
    • Median prices have been up or flat for 16 out of the last 17 months

    “With the current trend of plunging inventory and rising prices, the odds were strong that sales increases of the winter market would be unsustainable through the spring,” said 2017 MAR President Paul Yorkis, president of Patriot Real Estate in Medway. “The demand is there; we just need more homes on the market to satisfy that demand.”

    Inventory and Days on Market:

    Single-Family April 2017 April 2016 %Change
    Inventory 13,234 19,392 -31.8%
    Months of Supply 2.7 4.0 -32.5%
    Days on Market 81 107 -24.3%
    New Listings 7,706 8,513 -9.5%
    • 62nd time in the last 63 months of year-over-year inventory decreases
    Condominium April 2017 April 2016 %Change
    Inventory 1,455 1,607 -9.5%
    Months of Supply 2.0 2.8 -28.6%
    Days on Market 60 78 -23.1%
    New Listings 2,640 2,971 -11.1%
    • Inventory down for 16 out of the last 17 months

    “Unfortunately, our existing level of inventory makes it hard for us to meet our current and future housing needs,” said Yorkis. “If we don’t do anything soon, it will have a negative impact on the entire Massachusetts economy.”

    If you are thinking of buying a home anywhere in the state of Massachusetts, it is in your best interest to work with a member of the Massachusetts Association of Buyer Agents. These men and women are dedicated to working exclusively on your behalf to ensure that you have the best possible home-buying experience. Find a MABA agent here.