Buying your first property is always an exciting, yet daunting time. No matter the size of the property, there’s a bit of homework to be done on your part before signing on the dotted line.
So, if you’ve got your eye on a property as a first-time buyer in Boston, here’s what to consider before you take the plunge and buy your first condo!
Condominium Set Up and Maintenance: How it Works
Before you dive into buying your first Boston-based condo, it’s important to understand exactly what you’re buying first. A condominium is exactly what it sounds like – a complex of individual units, each owned or rented by different people. Condominium associations can be small (2 or 3 units) or much larger in scale.
A condominium complex is managed and controlled by a homeowner’s association (HOA). The HOA is responsible for a number of tasks such as collecting rent, dues, and allocating funds to maintenance, amenities, paying common expenses, and more.
HOAs have a reasonable amount of control over the complex and determine the following:
- (In some cases) The type of residents allowed to live in the complex
- Whether pets are permitted
- Guidelines for noise curfews
- Unit upgrades and maintenance
- Trash and recycling pickup days
- The exterior decoration of the complex
Aside from this, the HOA is also responsible for posting regular updates with regards to the complex and any future changes.
How to Buy a Condo in Boston: 5 Things You Probably Didn’t Think About
Now that you know a little more about what you’re buying into, here are some of the most important things to consider before you commit to buying.
1. Consider the Property Location
As you may already know, property location is everything. It’s a huge determining factor for the price, value, and resale success of the property.
Before you buy, consider the Boston neighborhood and local amenities surrounding the condo. It’s also important to ensure the location suits your daily routine — is it close enough to work or your children’s schools? Are you located near any public transport routes?
A condo with good proximity to shopping malls, entertainment centers, parks, the T or Commuter Rail, and schools is always a good buy. Ultimately, the more there is in your local neighborhood, the more it will appeal to the next buyer when you’re ready to sell. This always makes for a better-value purchase.
2. Make Sure the Condo Offers the Amenities You Need
Speaking of local amenities, does the condo offer the on-site, living amenities you need? Essentially, a condo complex could offer similar amenities to a stand-alone home.
Some of these should include a large, undercover parking garage, a gym or recreation area, an on-site pool, grill areas, and pet-related amenities. The condo complex could also offer landscaping, exterior building maintenance, and other maintenance services.
Security is also a given. Is there a doorman if it’s a larger building? Or is there a security system that all owners can access? Entry and exit to the building should be tightly controlled — as it would with any private home. If the complex falls short on any of the above, it may not be the right investment for you.
3. Establish a Clear Understanding of Ownership
Before you buy your first condo, do a little research on the past owners. Condos sell easily, so this means ownership exchange is fairly common.
As a buyer, make a point of reviewing all financial records from the seller of the unit, especially with regards to property taxes and what they paid. Make sure all outstanding bills and receipts are settled and cleared before signing your purchase agreement.
Take some time to look over the blueprint of the condo to understand what is covered by the seller should any maintenance or structural issues arise.
4. Understanding Condo Fees and Rental Policies
As a property owner, you become immediately responsible for a number of different fees. This includes annual condo fees which can add up throughout the year. Make sure you are aware of what these fees are and factor them into your budget beforehand.
It’s important to be aware that the condo association may enforce a special assessment if there are maintenance issues in the complex. This is usually covered by condo owners.
Aside from condo fees, there are also certain rental policies you need to be aware of. This is especially important if you had intended to rent out your condo and not live in it yourself.
The condo association may enforce restrictions on short-term rental services, including Airbnb and VRBO. Some condo associations may rule out these rental opportunities all-together. Do your research beforehand and brush up on the rules, where they apply.
5. Be Aware of Special Assessments
On the rare occasion, you may need to pay a special assessment fee as a condo owner. This is basically a large fee that is charged to cover a project within the building or, if the association is a multi-building HOA, the entire community. An example would be roof replacement or structural repair or upgrade.
Ask to see the future plans of the building so that you can get an idea of what to expect about the growth or expansion of the property. If a special assessment is on the cards, the HOA fees could also increase for a certain period of time. If you have questions or concerns, don’t be afraid to speak to the landlord about it so you have a clear idea of what to expect financially. It goes without saying that any planned special assessments should be disclosed to all potential buyers.
Looking to Buy or Sell Your First Property?
At NextHome Titletown Real Estate, we’re here to help you in your search to buy a condo, sell a home, or any other major property goal you may have.
If you’re looking for condos in Boston or the greater Boston area and need real estate expertise, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us!
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The property listing data and information set forth herein were provided to MLS Property Information Network, Inc. from third party sources, including sellers, lessors and public records, and were compiled by MLS Property Information Network, Inc. The property listing data and information are for the personal, non commercial use of consumers having a good faith interest in purchasing or leasing listed properties of the type displayed to them and may not be used for any purpose other than to identify prospective properties which such consumers may have a good faith interest in purchasing or leasing. MLS Property Information Network, Inc. and its subscribers disclaim any and all representations and warranties as to the accuracy of the property listing data and information set forth herein.