|Wildgrass Townhomes, Broomfield|
- Sharing walls, floors and ceilings can sometimes be a challenge, and certain units are better constructed and insulated than others. Ask current residences about their experiences, and consider your own lifestyle preferences to determine if being in such close proximity to other people would be a bother.
|Do parties spill into the hallway?|
- Do you own any associated parking or storage, or do you just have use rights? Sometimes garage or reserved parking spots are included in the deed and sometimes they are deeded separately. If separate, there may be a list with the homeowners' association of residents who are waiting to buy or rent one.
- Like many neighborhoods these days, condos and townhouses will have a homeowners' association with rules and restrictions that dictate what you can and can't do to the property. These may include items that affect the exterior, such as the type of replacement windows you can use, whether you can add openings, even what is allowed to be kept on your balcony. They can also dictate what happens on the interior, such as whether you can have pets or run a business from your home. It's very important to review the Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CCRs) during the contract period to be sure that the rules are not too limiting.
|The Board may not approve|
- HOAs require an additional fee which may be paid on a monthly, quarterly or yearly basis. These fees may only cover common area maintenance and insurance, or they may include trash removal and other amenities such as a clubhouse or swimming pool. Find out what is included in a particular development, and be sure that you can afford your monthly payment once you add in HOA dues.
- In addition to the dues, there may be other budgetary concerns relating to the HOA or common areas. HOAs often try to build their financial reserves to address ongoing maintenance items such as exterior painting or roof replacement, but sometimes unexpected costs come up. When I was the Office Manager at a Boulder HOA, the old elevators had to be replaced to be brought up to code and address some safety issues that the board was not aware of. This was rectified with a "special assessment," a several hundred dollar charge to each condo owner above and beyond their monthly dues.
|No one likes a surprise bill|
- How the HOA is being managed can affect homeowner satisfaction. Most hire professional management companies to run both the administrative duties as well as the maintenance of the development, but some still hire their own people that are supervised by the board of directors. Ask current residences about their experiences, or attend an HOA meeting and ask to see several months of meeting minutes to determine if there are ongoing issues with residents, maintenance or other items.
|You can't pick your neighbors|
- Condos and townhouses can sometimes be difficult to finance as lender requirements are different than they are for detached homes. The proportion of owner occupant units versus rentals is a big factor in obtaining financing. Lenders may also look at the delinquency rate for HOA dues, as well as any outstanding litigation against the development. Not long ago, I was working with a Buyer who also had a townhouse to sell. She was tripped up by a buyer's lender who would not finance the loan due to a pending lawsuit over another owner's unleashed dog biting someone. Even though my client didn't know these people, the dog owner was in violation of the HOA leash rules, and the HOA was adequately insured against such lawsuits, it still made the underwriter nervous. Be sure to talk to your lender about financing limitations regarding a particular unit you are interested in purchasing. Your Realtor should also be able to find a lender who has experience with harder-to-finance developments.
- Find out what the
master insurance policy for the development covers and what it
doesn't. Make sure you understand where your responsibility picks up -
depending on the type of attached dwelling you buy, you may or may not
be liable for damage to or systems within shared walls.
In this area of Colorado, the attached dwelling market tends to move slower than the detached market, which can inform your negotiation strategies. Keep that in mind when it comes time to resell your unit, as well. Give me a call if you need some help sleuthing information for a particular development.
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