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Photo courtesy of freeimages.com - The drawbacks of condo living had hurt the market after the Great Recession, but with more single-family home communities starting HOAs and home inventory tightening, condos are worth a look.
Winter Park / Maitland Observer Thursday, May 12, 2016 6 years ago

Christina Rordam: Condominium conundrum

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To condo or not to condo, that is the question.
by: Christina Rordam

To condo or not to condo, that is the question. Condos have gotten a bad rap since the crash, but do they really deserve it? Many people worry about the condo association and their rules, but these days so many single-family communities have homeowners associations too (sometimes multiple!) it seems an unfair argument. Because I so often hear both sides of the discussion with some buyers and sellers loving condos and some staunchly against condo living, I thought it would be an interesting topic to dissect. Are condos really a bad investment or could they be a great buy?

Let’s start with the negative and get it out of the way. Many buyers worry about the condo’s homeowners association. With an association comes rules, regulations and the possibility of people interfering in owners décor and lifestyle choices. Then there are the homeowners’ dues. Will the dues of the association remain low or go up? And how about sharing walls with a neighbor whom you may not care for? All of these are potentially realities of multi family housing.

I cant say any of these scenarios don’t ever happen or won’t in the future. What I can say is that the risk for rising homeowners association dues is present in any community that has an association and amenities such as a gate or guard or both, a pool clubhouse or fitness center and so on. However, just because the possibility exists doesn’t mean that the worst-case scenario of skyrocketing HOA dues will ever come to pass in any condo or single-family community with an association. The thing to do here is look at the association’s budget, check out the condition of their amenities, talk to the residents who have been there awhile and see what they have to say. If the neighborhood has a steady history of reasonable dues and strong management coupled with well cared for facilities you are likely in good shape.

As for the possibility of a bad neighbor, hey, you can encounter that in almost any neighborhood you choose. If you think back a year or two you can remember a certain mega pop star being accused of egging his neighbor’s mansion and causing many thousands of dollars in damages. Neighbors are one thing you can’t always control 100 percent. Just look into the HOA bylaws and see what the rules are. Try to keep communications open with the people you share walls with and be a good neighbor yourself. In most cases your fellow condo residents want to keep things copasetic and will do what they can to keep the living situation peaceful.

Finally the question of the décor limitations to address. Again, read your rulebook before buying or during your inspection period if the docs aren’t immediately available. That way there aren’t any surprises. Not every condo is for everyone, but you’ve got no one to blame but yourself if you don’t read your docs!

So what about the positive aspects of living in a condo? I sold entire buildings of brand new condos for Centerline Homes in Baldwin Park during its first few years, and now sell many condos each year resale too, so I’m pretty familiar with why buyers opt to own condos.

The top of the list is the ease of having that condo’s homeowners association care for the exterior of the building. Roof leak, pressure washing or tree trimming, depending on what the association covers, can be as simple as calling your association rep and requesting the repair. No large repair costs (save special assessments in the event of things like major weather damages) no tracking down a contractor and coordinating schedules, the HOA takes care of that for you. Want to travel? Many condos such as the high-rise buildings downtown have 24-hour security so you can take that vacation and rest easy knowing someone is watching over things for you. The honey-do list gets handed over to the building management or the HOA, and you can continue to work and play hard without interruption.

Location is often a major factor in condo desirability too. Condos can be built in parts of the city where there is no space for houses anymore and gives the owner the ability to do things like walk to a play or an Orlando Magic game and skip the hubbub of a parking garage or valet.

Housing is a very personal choice. Condos are amazing for some people and can absolutely be both incredible investments and enjoyable living spaces. It’s all about what you want. And in case you’re wondering the condo market is alive and well: I just sold one the first day on the market full asking price and higher than recent neighborhood sales by $20K.

Christina Rordam is a licensed Realtor and Central Florida native with 10 years experience helping Orlando area buyers and sellers achieve their real estate dreams. She is a member of the Orlando Regional Realtor Associations Top Producer Club and holds the CDPE, CNE and CSP designations. Do you have any questions or a topic of interest that you’d like to read about? Contact Christina at 407-928-8294, [email protected]. View homes online at ChristinaSellsOrlando.com

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