Here are some important things to be aware of if you are considering buying a condominium unit:
Repair Issues Inside the Unit
With a condo, the condo owners’ association (COA) (sometimes referred to as a homeowners’ association (HOA) or a property owners’ association (POA)) manages and maintains the common elements and usually takes care of exterior maintenance (parking lot or garage, swimming pool, picnic area, park, tennis courts, and whatever other amenities are included). The association may be responsible for maintaining the exterior, but the interior portion of the unit you are purchasing is your responsibility. Depending on the age of the unit and how it was treated by previous owners, there could be some significant repairs needed. This could also be true with newer construction as some builders cut corners in a rush to put up these structures more quickly. Always be sure to have the unit thoroughly inspected by a professional inspector before you go forward with the purchase.
Condo Association Dues
Association dues are required to be paid by all unit owners which are used to maintain common elements and might cover garbage removal, water, internet service, and other expenses depending on the individual community. Find out how much your monthly association fee will be, what expenses are included in this payment, and whether or not this will be affordable to you.
Association Rules about Renting the Unit
If you are buying a condo as a rental property, you will definitely want to find out if the association has any restrictions on renting. Most associations allow long-term rentals (e.g., leases that run for at least a year or longer), but a growing number of them are putting restrictions on short-term rentals, such as Airbnb or similar. Check the rental rules with the specific community association, and also keep in mind that they could change their current rules in the future.
Other Restrictive Association Rules
Condo and townhome associations have other rules and guidelines that you should become aware of. For example, some associations do not allow pets, while many others have restrictions on how many pets a resident can have, breeds, sizes, where pets can walk, picking up after your pet, etc. Other common HOA rules include restrictions on loud noise during certain hours of the day, limits on how long holiday decorations can stay up, and how many (and what types of) vehicles can be kept on the property.
Government-Backed Mortgage Approvals
Many home buyers seek to obtain financing through an FHA loan or another type of government-backed mortgage. FHA loans require a lower down payment than most conventional mortgages, and they generally have less stringent credit underwriting guidelines. This makes them a good option for buyers who have less-than-perfect credit and limited available funds for their down payment.
If you are planning to buy a condo using an FHA loan, you will first need to find out if the unit for purchase is FHA-approved. To obtain FHA approval, HOAs must go through an application and approval process and show that they meet all of the requirements. It is generally in the interests of a condominium community to become FHA-approved as it opens the door to more potential buyers, but not all of them are. Check with your realtor or attorney to verify that you can make your purchase using FHA financing.
Work With a Skilled and Knowledgeable Alabama Real Estate Attorney
If you are interested in buying a condo in Alabama, it may be in your best interests to add some contingencies to the purchase agreement that allow you to thoroughly analyze the HOA bylaws, rules, regulations, and fees and ensure that you have an out in the contract if you come across something that will be a dealbreaker. This is why it is highly advisable to work with an attorney or firm that has extensive experience dealing with the legal issues involved with purchasing a condo.
If you need a real estate attorney for a condominium purchase in Baldwin County or any other county in southern Alabama, Stone Crosby, P.C. is here to help. Call our Daphne, AL office today at (251) 626-6696 or send us an online message for a free initial consultation with one of our attorneys.