Tips on find­ing a condo you can sell quickly if you need to

The Palm Beach Post - Residences - - Residences Central - Ellen James Martin

Some of the best bar­gains in the cur­rent hous­ing mar­ket in­volve con­do­mini­ums. Though a sin­gle­fam­ily house re­mains the top choice for many, the sim­plic­ity of condo liv­ing is pre­ferred by a grow­ing seg­ment of the older pop­u­la­tion. Also, more young adults are down­siz­ing to cut hous­ing costs. But real es­tate spe­cial­ists cau­tion condo buy­ers — at all points along the in­come spec­trum — about the crit­i­cal im­por­tance of choos­ing a unit care­fully. Do­ing so will help to en­sure its sal­a­bil­ity when you want or need to move.

“Peo­ple who buy the wrong condo can find sell­ing tough. That’s be­cause mar­ket de­mand for con­dos is less than for de­tached houses,” said John Ry­giol, a real es­tate bro­ker af­fil­i­ated with the Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Ex­clu­sive Buyer Agents.

Your emo­tional re­sponse to a build­ing can be telling, noted Fred Meyer, a real es­tate bro­ker who has sold homes since 1963: “If you love it whole­heart­edly, chances are good that oth­ers will love it, too. That means that when you put it on the mar­ket years from­now, it should be eas­ier to sell.”

Here are a few point­ers for those plan­ning to buy a condo unit:

• Look for a com­mu­nity with a strong job base. It’s no se­cret that the vi­tal­ity of a lo­cal real es­tate mar­ket is tied closely to the em­ploy­ment strength of the area. But, Meyer ad­vised, buy­ers of con­dos shouldn’t count on a sin­gle em­ployer to keep the lo­cal econ­omy afloat: “You don’t want to buy in a one­fac­tory town that would be badly hurt if that sin­gle em­ployer closes. Look for mul­ti­ple em­ploy­ers.”

How can you in­ves­ti­gate the strength of the lo­cal econ­omy? “If you want to get so­phis­ti­cated in your re­search, go to the lo­cal cham­ber of com­merce and ask what’s hap­pen­ing to jobs in the area,” Meyer ex­plained.

• Check sta­tis­tics to val­i­date your hunches about the right condo build­ing. Your emo­tional re­ac­tion to a condo build­ing can be help­ful. But you, along with your real es­tate agent, will also want to search out data that help you an­a­lyze the pros and cons of buy­ing in a par­tic­u­lar build­ing.

“Look at the re­sale his­tory for the build­ing — go­ing back for as long as four years. No­tice es­pe­cially the me­dian num­ber of days that it takes to sell units in the build­ing. The more days it typ­i­cally takes to go from­list­ing to sale, the less liq­uid the build­ing,” Meyer noted.

Also, he said that you should check the “re­serves” of the build­ing. Re­serves are the amount of money that own­ers there have set aside for ma­jor re­pairs and ren­o­va­tions.

“If the build­ing needs a new roof but there’s no money for this, all the own­ers could be hit with a big spe­cial as­sess­ment. A poorly fi­nanced build­ing can be­come run-down, mak­ing it less de­sir­able for fu­ture own­ers,” Meyer warned.

• Re­sist the temp­ta­tion to buy in a build­ing with very low as­so­ci­a­tion fees. Nearly all condo build­ings im­pose monthly or quar­terly as­so­ci­a­tion fees on all res­i­dents. These charges cover the cost of rou­tine up­keep on a build­ing and its grounds, along with sup­port ser­vices such as a door­per­son at the front en­trance.

Ry­giol said that some wouldbe condo buy­ers, to help re­duce ex­pen­di­tures, some­times shop for a build­ing with the low­est pos­si­ble monthly fees. But do­ing so could be a mis­take, he said: “A build­ing with very low fees might ac­tu­ally de­cline in value, due to poor main­te­nance. That could make your unit hard to sell in the fu­ture.”

• Try to avoid buy­ing in a build­ing with a large por­tion of renters. Home-buyer ad­vo­cates are wary of build­ings in which a large per­cent­age of units have been rented out by their own­ers.

“Owner-oc­cu­pants feel a nat­u­ral pres­sure to en­sure that a build­ing is ad­e­quately main­tained and has plenty of money set aside in re­serves for fu­ture re­pairs and im­prove­ments. Renters feel no such nat­u­ral pres­sure,” Meyer noted.

What per­cent­age of owne­roc­cu­pants is suf­fi­cient? That de­pends on the lo­ca­tion of the build­ing. In most cases, Meyer said, you’ll want to see more than half the units oc­cu­pied by own­ers. How­ever, this rule might not hold true in a re­sort com­mu­nity where sea­sonal rentals are the norm.

Even though it’s not wise to choose a build­ing with a large num­ber of renters, Meyer ex­plained that it’s also im­por­tant to avoid a build­ing that pro­hibits own­ers from rent­ing out their units if they wish to do so.

• Choose your unit wisely. Meyer said that it’s usu­ally un­wise to buy one of the most ex­pen­sive con­dos in a build­ing, such as a pent­house unit, un­less his­tory shows that, in the past, pent­house apart­ments with com­mand­ing views there have sold read­ily and for re­spectable prices.

He noted, “Buy­ing one of the least ex­pen­sive con­dos in a build­ing with much larger and fancier units will help hold up the value of your prop­erty over time.”

Ellen James Martin is a Uni­ver­sal Syn­di­cate colum­nist.

Con­dos present some of the best buy­ing — and sell­ing — op­por­tu­ni­ties in the real es­tate mar­ket.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.