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5 Questions to Ask When Buying a Condo

How Comprehensive Are the Services (and the Rules)?
This is the part of the condo under your control.
This is the part of the condo under your control.

Do you dream of never having to mow the lawn again? Fantasize about not being in charge of peeling exterior paint? Condo owners almost always get to skip the hassle of exterior maintenance, but you'll want to find out exactly what you get to skip. You'll also need to check out whether you'll be able to hang birdfeeders, decorate for the holidays or fly that little flag you think is so cute come springtime.

In terms of extras, many condo complexes have amenities like pools, fitness centers and tennis courts. They also sometimes have a security team and storage space for residents to put the possessions they'd likely shove in the attic or garage if they lived in a traditional dwelling. Christmas lights, floor fans, bikes and sleds could all fall in this category.

It's also important to go over the community rules before you sign on the dotted line. These are typically spelled out in the complex's covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&R). Some allow pets, and some don't. Some allow owners to garden, but others wag their fingers at it. You're agreeing to these rules if you buy the condo, and while many of them will probably be acceptable, others may not be, depending on your lifestyle.

Finally, examine your agreements closely for details such as who is responsible for the care of outdoor spaces attached to the unit, like porches or balconies. Get the details about both maintenance and repairs.