There are several factors that need to be taken into consideration when purchasing a condo. One thing that might help to narrow down your choices is a list of must haves versus needs. The purchase of a condo is a big investment and you want to make sure that it will meet your requirements for living, lifestyle and purpose of use. Examples: Amenities such as pool, tennis, golf, exercise room, pet friendly, within budget, 55+ and close proximity to amenities such as beach, restaurants, shopping, medical facilities, highway, etc.
Then you need to determine your budget. You need to take into consideration the monthly fees, taxes, insurance, interior maintenance, utilities, etc. Create a budget that fits within your parameters and then weed out the condos that do not fit within your budget. Some condos include water/sewer/cable/trash and others do not.
Some condo developments have special assessments on top of the HOA fee. For example, if the units need a new roof and there isn’t enough money in reserves, then they will ask the owners to pay a special assessment for the roof, which could mean extra money for a certain number of years until it is paid off. This could happen in any condo community. There may also be a master homeowner association fee plus a condo fee. Some communities have other required fees such as golf, restaurant and even Community Development District (CDD) fees.
When looking at the taxes in the MLS, what a current owner is paying is not necessarily what you would pay. The current owner may be homestead and have an exemption and it will be reassessed once purchased. If you are not a resident of Florida, you cannot claim homestead.
Another thing I would suggest is contacting an insurance agent if you have not already done so. You can start with Island Insurance Agency, 941-764-8050. They represent several different agencies and can shop for rates. AAA is another company that represents several different agencies. The cost of insurance may help in deciding on a condo location as well.
The bylaws, covenants and rules and regulations are not always readily available beforehand, but you will need to read them before purchasing. You will also want to get a copy of the financial documents to see if they have a healthy reserve and are financially stable. Some communities have a web site where you can read the minutes of meetings, which generally gives you a good idea if there are any problems within the community. If not, you could do a Google search to see if you can find any history on the community or reviews by owners.
If you are considering renting it out, then you would need to see what the rental restrictions are. It is generally a good rule to avoid communities where more than 20% of residents are renters. Vacancy rate is another issue. If there are several units vacant or going into foreclosure, are there enough funds to cover owners who are not paying their share of the condo fees?
Here is the web site for Florida HOA members – http://www.floridahoamembers.com/.
Be sure to thoroughly research all that you can before purchasing any condo.
Tammy Hayes, Realtor
RE/MAX Palm Realty, Port Charlotte, FL