I want off this f***ing roller coaster! I decided to dip my toe into the house hunting pool, and needless to say, I have learned a lot. It read like a Harlequin romance at times; it has been full of anticipation, heartache, struggle, desire and bitter disappointment.
The first property I was really sweet on was a condo. Perfect neighborhood—four blocks from my sister, quiet building, close to work and amenities. The owner recently passed away and did a lot of reno work before he died: hardwood flooring, updating the kitchen and bath, stained glass patio door, new paint, new light fixtures, new water heater, new carpet in the bedroom…It was one bedroom, one bathroom. Perfect for this perpetually single girl. And her cat.
But, oh, the road blocks! The many headaches. Let me share with you five tips for buying a condo I learned the hard way:
- Put 20% down. Lenders won’t even give you a second glance if you don’t. I had way less than 20% down and of the only two lenders who talked to me, one wanted a $375 inspection done up front before I could get pre-approved (if I even COULD get pre-approved!) and the second one never returned my calls or emails.
- Meet someone on the condo board. There is mortgage paperwork to fill out from the condo board and it helps to attach a face with a name when that paperwork is being done. Also it is an easier chance to get to know at least one of your neighbors. Who knows? Maybe you can get some of the low-down before you commit to buying.
- Know who lives in the building. I don’t mean go stalk them and learn their names, but you MUST know the percentage of condos in the building that are owned and how many are rented. It’s harder than hell to get approved for a mortgage if it’s under 80% owned units in the building.
- Visit at different times of the day and observe the noise level. Go on the weekend when people are home doing chores or at the end of the day when people come home from work. Are the walls thick? Do you hear a lot of noise? Are the parking lot/garages full? Do you smell cooking from other kitchens? Do you hear pets?
- Know the history of the building. When was the roof replaced? Paving on the parking lot or when were the garages built? What do the homeowner’s association fees cover? What are YOU as a condo owner responsible for?
Long and the short of it, as much as I loved the condo, I couldn’t get financing from the $%&%# banks. Oh well…renting it is!