Derek Morgan
Derek Morgan
New modern condos in South Beach, Florida
Derek Morgan
Derek Morgan
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What are hidden fees when you buy a condo?

Hidden fees are those costs that are not often seen at first glance, but are nonetheless important to consider when buying a condo. These fees can range from closing costs, to homeowners' association fees, to insurance premiums.

Any fee associated with the processing of a loan, or any dues at the time of closing, are considered "closing costs". This can include things like appraisal fees, loan origination fees, and title fees. Homeowners' association fees are the fees charged by the building or community for upkeep and maintenance, typically due on a monthly basis.

Common Hidden Fees

Common hidden fees when buying a condo include special assessments, insurance premiums, and property taxes. Special assessments can be unplanned expenses that are passed over to the condo owners when they occur. These can be significant expenses and add up quickly.

Insurance premiums are necessary for condos, especially oceanfront condos that come with additional risks like hurricanes, flooding, and wind damage. Standard homeowner insurance policies don’t cover these damages, so it’s important to purchase additional coverage.

Property taxes are also a part of owning a condo and can be a significant expense. Property taxes tend to increase as the property value increases or when the property ages and requires more maintenance.

Tips for Avoiding Hidden Fees

Before purchasing a condo, it’s important to carefully look over the financial statement to ensure there is economic stability and plenty of money in the reserve fund. This can help to avoid any surprises down the line.

It’s also important to know the protocol for unplanned expenses since most aren’t optional and must be met by every property owner. Understanding property association fee amounts, frequency of payment, and rules governing fee increases is critical in ensuring they don’t eat into your pocketbook.

Consulting an insurance agent is another great way to uncover any hidden insurance costs that could affect your condo purchasing decision. To avoid these fees, it’s advisable to see what the current insurance protects before buying the condo. The exclusions at this stage can be used to negotiate for a better buying price.

What are the Different Types of Condos?

  • High-Rise: great for luxurious living experiences and breathtaking views of cities or coastlines.

  • Garden-Style: better suited for those who want to be near nature or have quieter surroundings, and are usually more affordable in suburban or rural areas.

  • Townhouse: typically smaller, single-family units attached to one another, oftentimes considered to be more private.

  • Loft: open-concept units within converted industrial buildings that offer a modern, urban living experience for those who dream of high ceilings and exposed brick walls.

What are the Benefits of Buying a Condo?

  • Less Maintenance: Mundane tasks like mowing the lawn, shoveling snow, or general repairs won't fall under your responsibility anymore, as they're taken care of by the HOA. 

  • Amenities: you can brag about your access to community features like a pool, gym, or playground, without having to maintain the upkeep either. They also serve as a way to connect with neighbors and provide a social atmosphere.

  • Tax Benefits: you may be able to deduct expenses like mortgage interest and property taxes. If your condo is an investment property, you could be eligible for capital gains tax breaks.

  • Affordability: they typically cost less than traditional homes, yet are still more affordable than renting an apartment. 

What are Common Closing Costs?

Down Payment

Generally, the more you can put down, the lower your monthly payments will be. Some lenders may require a higher down payment for a condo than for a house. 

Home Inspection

Before you commit to a purchase, an inspector will look at the structure of the building, its systems, and the safety features. They will also check for any potential water damage, pest infestations, or other issues that could be costly to repair. 

Property Taxes

Different cities and states will set different tax rates, but these taxes also factor in the value of the property as well. To get an idea of what you can expect to pay, you can ask the seller if they have records of their past property tax payments.

Title Insurance

Title insurance is a must when buying a condo,  and will ensure the seller has the proper rights to your condo. Be sure to discuss potential lines or encumbrances on the property with the seller and your real estate agent beforehand.

What are the Long-Term Costs of Owning a Condo?

Monthly Fees

Monthly fees are one of the main expenses you’ll incur as a condo owner. These fees cover the cost of amenities such as a swimming pool, gym, or other shared facilities, as well as the cost of common area maintenance and repairs. 

It’s important to understand the breakdown of your monthly fees to know exactly what you’re paying for. In some cases, the fees may include special assessments that are levied to cover unexpected maintenance or repairs. It’s also important to inquire about any planned increases in fees and ask the condo association for an explanation of the fee structure.

Reserves

In addition to your monthly fees, you may also be required to contribute to the condo association’s reserve fund. This fund is used to cover large repairs or maintenance costs that may arise in the future, such as roof repairs or replacing the building’s HVAC system.

When budgeting for a condo, make sure to factor in any reserve fees you’ll be responsible for. You should also ask the condo association how much money is currently in the reserve fund and how they plan to use it in the future. 

Maintenance/Repairs

In addition to monthly fees and reserve funds, you may also be responsible for maintenance and repairs to your own unit. This can include painting, plumbing, electrical work, and more. You should ask the condo association for an estimate of how much it will cost to maintain and repair your unit over the course of a year. This will help you plan ahead and ensure that you can afford the costs of owning a condo.

Conclusion

Best Practices for Negotiating Fees

When buying a condo, it’s important to talk to the Realtor, loan provider, insurance agent, and property association manager. These professionals should be part of the final process in determining if purchasing a condo is right for you.

It’s also important to do your research and understand the market value of the property. Knowing the current prices of comparable properties in the area can help you negotiate a better deal. Additionally, it’s important to consider the cost of living in the area when budgeting for the purchase of a condo. Rushing into a purchase can be a costly mistake, so it’s best to take your time and make sure you are aware of all the hidden costs associated with purchasing a condo.

Check our our selling options at unrealestate.com/sell or find your perfect home at unrealestate.com/search.

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