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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

  • Massachusetts Pending Home Sales and Median Price Up Again in June

    The Massachusetts Association of Realtors® (MAR) reported today that single-family pending home sales were up over nine percent in June from last year. Pending condominium sales were also up more than 12 percent. The median price for both single-family homes and condos saw a hike, with the single-family median price rising over the $400,000 mark. Realtors® confidence both in the market and in home prices dipped slightly in June. This month’s “Hot Topic” question finds that the majority of Realtors® surveyed have had at least one transaction that was an all-cash deal (i.e. no mortgage involved) since the beginning of the year.

    June Pending Sales: 

    Single Family June 2017 June2016 % Change
    Sales 6,723 6,128 9.7%
    Median Price $410,000 $380,000 7.9%
    • Pending sales have been up 51 of the last 52 months 
    Condominium June2017 June2016 % Change
    Sales 2,596 2,307 12.5%
    Median Price $370,000 $349,900 2.9%
    • Pending sales have been up or flat 20 of the last 22 months 

    “The increase in homes put under agreement this month may be a positive sign for a spring market that has suffered plummeting inventory,” said 2017 MAR President Paul Yorkis, president of Patriot Real Estate in Medway. “However, median prices have continued to rise, which can push some buyers out of the market.”

    Realtor® Market and Price Confidence Indexes: 

    Confidence Index June2017 June2016 %Change
    Market 80.73 80.97 -0.29%
    Price 71.79 73.87 -2.82%
    • The Realtor® Market Confidence Index went down for the first time in 27 months
    • The Realtor® Price Confidence Index went down for the first time in six months
    • Measured on a 100-point scale, a score of 50 is the midpoint between a “strong” (100 points) and a “weak” (0 points) market condition  

    “The Realtor® Market Confidence Index has dipped year-over-year for the first time in over two years, indicating that Realtors® are growing concerned about some of their buyers being able to succeed in this market,” said Yorkis. “However, both indexes reveal that ultimately Realtors® remain positive. We just need to see more inventory to keep up with the demand.”

    With home inventory being as tight as it is, you want to give yourself every advantage if you are thinking of buying a home in Massachusetts. For the best possible experience, be sure to work with an agent who is a member of the Massachusetts Association of Buyer Agents.