Buying a Condominium vs. Buying a House
Condominium vs. House
- Ownership - With a house comes the right to exclusive ownership of all the property you have purchased. Essentially this means that anyone who sets foot on any of your property without your permission is considered trespassing. With condominiums the owner has this exclusive right to all property within the walls of the condo. However, in the "common area" outside of the condo (the halls, stairs, courtyard, etc.), the owner of the condo has shared ownership along with every other condo owner in the complex.
- Defects and repairs - Home owners are solely responsible for all upkeep and protection of their property, including purchasing insurance. Condo owners are generally not solely responsible for the repairs and upkeep of the property. Instead, condo owners generally pay dues to the homeowner association they belong to, who buys property hazard insurance, and also takes care of routine things like lawn upkeep in the common areas.
- Modification of the property - Except for some local zoning ordinances, home owners are generally allowed to do whatever they wish to modify the exterior or interior or their property. Condo owners are generally restricted in the ways they can modify the exterior appearance of their residence, and sometimes even the interior appearance, by Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs) that are usually set forth by the Homeowner's Association.
How Do These Differences Affect What Steps I Should Take When Purchasing a Condominium?
Buying a house and condo are similar in the aspect that with either one, you want to closely inspect what you are about to purchase. When setting out the purchase agreement for a condominium it is important that you make sure a provision is included that says you must be provided with the CC&Rs, the articles of incorporation, and the by-laws for the condo association before you purchase.
Make sure that you also get a copy of the budget, as well as a notice of the current dues assessment. You want to examine and understand these documents thoroughly before you purchase the condo to make sure it is everything that you want and no surprises.
What Should I Do if I Do Not Understand All of the CC&Rs or Other Documents I Was Given Before the Purchase Agreement is Signed?
The information you are given about the condo and the rules and by-laws of the Homeowner's Association can often be confusing and overwhelming. You can ask the Association to help explain these terms to you, but if you would like more advisement you should contact a real estate attorney. Your attorney will help you understand all the provisions of each agreement and make sure your interests are represented in the documents.
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Last Modified: 05-27-2010 11:56 AM PDT
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