How to buy a condo and avoid buyer's remorse? It's pretty simple, do your research, think logically and be strategic in your fact-finding mission. The more information you have, the better decision you'll make. The one thing we DO NOT recommend... buying a condo with your emotions! Sound funny? It's not. We're real estate professionals in Miami. This happens EVERY DAY. And buyer's remorse is NOT pretty!
How to buy a condo
Miami, where those amazingly luxurious, sometimes over-the-top condo buildings whisper your name, lure you in... and BAM! Once you make it to the pool deck, you're hooked! Fitness center, resort-style swimming pool, sauna, valet parking, 24/7 lobby attendant that calls you when you have a new UPS package waiting. Cute little playground for your dog, a social room that shows movies on weekends. Who wouldn't want to live like that?!
But inside many amazing condo buildings and communities lurks some hidden secrets, and sometimes... nightmares.
Here are our top suggested questions to ask and research BEFORE you get emotionally invested... these answers will lead you to making the best decisions you can make when exploring how to buy a condo.
Sure, if you are an all-cash buyer, you have the upper hand. You'll win bidding wars for the best condo listings. You won't have to worry about your contract falling apart if your appraisal comes back lower than your purchase price. You won't need to deal with your lender's issues with the condo as a result of wrong answers on that scary Condo Questionaire.
If you need a mortgage, you're going to be dealing with all those potential pitfalls. And some of them could ruin your contract AFTER you've already paid for your property inspection and those pesky condo application fees. So how do you avoid these issues?
The answers to questions surrounding these topics (below) on how to buy a condo can become THE most destructive ways to blow up a condo sales contract. The best way to avoid wasting money and time, and having your heart broken... is to get these answers ahead of time!
How many parking spots does each unit come with? If the unit only comes with one parking spot, does condo management help you rent an additional space or prohibit it? If renting an additional space is allowed, how much is it monthly/yearly? Where will your guests park short term? Where will your guests park if they stay overnight/long term? If you buy a condo in the building, does your Title/Ownership of that unit include a specific named/numbered space... or are you simply given space designated by the condo management or association? Parking is a BIG issue with the majority of the most desirable condo buildings.
Did the building incur a major expense due to repairs or improvements that isn't covered in the monthly dues? When this happens, the amount is divided up between all unit owners and they are billed with a "special assessment". Sometimes for A LOT of $$$! These bills have to be paid either by the current owner/seller... or... by the new owner! How to buy a condo with a current special assessment? First, find out what the full balance owed, is. Don't get into a contract without somehow factoring in the balance owed, and/or stipulating who will be responsible for paying that balance once the sale closes. Consider discounting your contract offer price to compensate for the balance due for that bill, or require that the seller pay off all balances prior to the sale/with sale proceeds.
And an insider tip: even if there is no special assessment currently... there could be one coming up! We suggest, when visiting the building, talk to the residents in the elevators and on the pool deck. Tell them you are looking at buying there. Ask them if they know of any special assessments or any other issues the building may be having.
If you're financing, your lender will be requiring the building to fill out and submit a condo questionnaire. Those answers are crucial to whether or not they will loan you the money to buy in that building. Some questions to find the answers to BEFORE it's too late and you lose money and time:
How do you buy a condo if the lender doesn't approve of the answers on the condo questionnaire? You may need to go to another lender. There are financing programs that can deal with riskier condo situations, but you'll need to work with a mortgage professional that is experienced.
Another VERY important topic to consider before buying into a building/community is the by-laws, and restrictions they may place on renting your unit. What happens if at you need or want to move yet don't want or can't sell at that point? Will the condo building let you rent your unit out? There are many buildings that have very strict restrictions on renting. Every condo association is different. Make sure to ask questions, and read the by-laws and condo docs thoroughly. Want to find them and get the answers now? Check the official records of the county where the condo is located. Is the condo in Miami? Check this website below: