Condo Buyer’s Guide: Essential Tips for Purchasing Your First Condo

A condo can serve as a great permanent or vacation home. Whether you’re downsizing or making your first home purchase, these properties are often quite affordable and usually come with some nice community amenities. In this condo buyer’s guide, we’ll share some essential tips for purchasing your first condo. This process is slightly different than buying a detached home!

If you need assistance selling your house or are looking for a new condo in Isle of Palms, SC, contact Jimmy Carroll Realty today.

Understand Condo Stipulations

Unlike living in a detached home, there are a few unique stipulations to condo living. It’s important that you understand these stipulations before deciding to buy a condo:

  • Condo living is a community form of ownership. While the interior of the unit is yours, every community resident owns the common areas and exterior property.
  • You must pay a monthly HOA or condo fee in addition to your mortgage, insurance, and property taxes. The fee covers maintenance costs throughout the community. This includes maintenance and repairs to the exterior of the unit, such as your roof, side paneling, exterior lights, and more.
  • The community has a reserve fund that covers any unexpected expenses that arise within the property. The reserve fund is built using a portion of your monthly HOA or condo fee.
  • You may have to pay for private mortgage insurance each month if your down payment is less than 20% of the condo’s value.
  • There are more borrower qualifications when shopping for a loan for a condo. Many lenders have a minimum requirement for the community’s reserve fund amount and require that the condo is warrantable.

Know Home-Buying Basics

Before you begin, you should brush up on the basics of buying a property. When purchasing real estate, you will always need to take the below steps in the following order:

  • Create a budget that you will strictly stick to.
  • Create a list of needs that your property must have in order to live the lifestyle you desire.
  • Get a pre-approval letter for a loan from a certified lender.
  • Search for the right property that meets everything on your list of needs.
  • Make an offer on the home, ensuring the offer takes your budget, timeline, and other contingencies into account.
  • Order a home inspection to confirm no major repairs need to be made to the property.
  • Shop for a mortgage loan, searching for the lowest rate with minimal lender fees.
  • Fill out the mortgage application for the loan you’ve chosen.
  • Get the property appraised at or above the set purchase price to get your loan approved.
  • Close on the property by signing closing documents with an attorney.

For more in-depth information, view our Real Estate Buyer Checklist.

Hire a Knowledgeable Realtor

Feeling overwhelmed? Between the contingencies of condo living and the intricacies of buying a property, it can be a lot to sort through on your own.

That’s why we highly recommend hiring a well-connected and knowledgeable realtor, especially when purchasing a new type of property. A realtor can answer any questions you have and guide you through each step of the process. They also have special resources that allow them to find the newest and best condos on the market. All in all, a realtor can help you purchase your condo quicker with more financial security and reduced stress.

If you’re looking for a condo in Isle of Palms, SC, contact Jimmy Carroll Realty today!

Questions You Should Ask

Since condos are unique properties, there are also some specific condo-related questions you may want to ask before making your purchase:

  • Is the complex professionally-managed? Some condo complexes are managed by professional agencies. Others are run by an HOA, which is comprised of other condo owners in the community.
  • What are the community rules? You want to make sure the rules align with your lifestyle and needs.
  • How much money is in the reserve fund? This is important to know so that you’re able to secure a loan.
  • What upcoming projects are planned? It’s nice to know if any improvements or construction will be occurring shortly after you move in, as this may affect your decision.
  • What is the rental policy? If you’re buying a condo as a vacation home, you may want to rent it to others while you’re not there. When this is the case, knowing the complex’s rental policy is imperative.
  • What kind of parking is available? Since parking spots technically belong to the community, you’ll want to know if you have assigned parking, guest parking, and/or first-come-first-serve parking.
  • Who is responsible for what maintenance items? As we’ve mentioned, condo owners technically own the interior of the unit, while the HOA or managing agency is responsible for the exterior. But who is responsible for seemingly “in-between” items such as windows, shared walls, porches, balconies, and the like? Understanding which entity is responsible for certain items will save you a headache if something needs repairs down the line.

Choose Jimmy Carroll Realty

We hope this condo buyer’s guide assists you! These essential tips for purchasing your first condo should get you on the right track towards obtaining your dream property. If you’re ready to find a perfect piece of real estate for your needs, contact Jimmy Carroll Realty today. We can introduce you to all of the available condos in the Isle of Palms, SC area that you’re sure to fall in love with. We look forward to assisting you!

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