10 things to look for on a condo listing (before going in person!)
Time is a resource we seem to have less and less of these days, so why not save some of it?
Before heading to an open house or on a private tour, doing your homework on a condominium listing you like from the comfort of your current home, a coffee shop, on-the-go, or wherever you may be is super important!
Here are the top 10 items to look for or to double down on before making the time investment of seeing a home in person– make sure to do them!
10 things to look for on a condo listing
1. Get the full listing with all the documents
Reading about a home listing on Redfin or Zillow is helpful and will very likely be the first place you’ll do this, but the full details are not provided there. You should request the full listing from your agent or home advisor along with any other seller provided home documents for review.
2. Read the home overview
Does the general overview of the home listing state anything helpful about the history of the property? It will often begin with all the best features the condo provides and may end with news about the building or a special assessment which you should understand. Sometimes there are some really helpful facts to understand here so try not to glean over it!
3. Where is it located and what’s nearby?
Check out the address on Google Maps and Street View. How is traffic and parking in the area? Are parks or schools nearby? What type of transit, if any, is available to you at this location? It’s important that the condo building is in a location you like and find accessible.
4. What’s the interior of the condo like?
Is the layout conducive for you? What type of heating or cooling is provided? Can you tell if this unit gets lots of sunlight? Are the bathrooms or kitchen renovated? Is there a washer and dryer hook-up in the unit? Is there a view? Does the condo seem renovated or in need of some fixing up? Getting a quick assessment of this will help you rate if this home is a priority for you or not.
5. What’s the exterior of the condo like?
Does it have any dedicated or shared outdoor space? Is there any dedicated storage? Is there a roof deck or balcony? How many units are in the building, this could dictate if it's a low-rise, mid-rise, or high-rise building. Getting an idea of your surroundings within the building helps situate you.
6. What are the amenities of the building?
Is there an elevator or ramps in the building for accessibility? Is there a place for deliveries to be collected or perhaps a concierge? Does the building provide a pool or fitness area? Is there indoor or outdoor parking? You may not need or want a number of amenities, but know that by owning a condo in the building you will be paying for any upkeep of amenities through your monthly homeowner association dues.
7. What are the dues or fees per month?
What are the dues to the homeowner’s association on a monthly basis? What do they include? How does this impact your monthly cost to own the home? You should expect that some HOA dues will be higher when the building offers more amenities (i.e. heat, elevators, garage parking, a pool, etc). In continuation to #1, if you can, ask to understand if there are any special assessments to know about.
8. Are there any use limitations?
If you decide you want to one day, can you rent out the unit? Are there any rental quotas or general restrictions to understand about the building? Is short-term renting such as Airbnb/VRBO allowed? To get the best information, you may have to ask your agent or home advisor on this one.
9. What floor is it on?
Depending on what floor the condo is on you may have neighbors above you or below you (or perhaps next to you). This may be a consideration especially if you are either a noise maker or if you can’t stand hearing noise. Also, knowing the floor level also helps especially with accessibility– are there only stairs or also an elevator?
10. Documents you can try to request
Every condominium building will have its fair share of documents to review. The ones to review before taking the step to tour a home if possible may be – Rules & Regulations or the Master Deed, the condo budget, and any meeting minutes by the trustees. While they may not all be available on hand for review, if any are, these documents will give you an idea of the health of the association and overall rules of how the association and unit owners are managed.
If you made it to the bottom of this, good job! The above is meant to give you an idea of what filters to put the home listing through and if done right hopefully it will save you time. Depending on the type of condo that interests you, there may be many items above which do not apply. For instance, if you’re looking to buy a condo in a smaller three unit building, you certainly won’t find a pool in it (just some context)!