As a potential buyer of a condo, you need to know more than just how much your dues are going to cost before purchasing. Don't get me wrong, dues are important and you should know what the dues cover (maintenance, utilities, etc.). However, there is a lot more to condos than just the dues (i.e. the association itself – how it operates, rental caps, pet restrictions, remodeling and construction restrictions, exterior maintenance requirements, insurance coverage, etc.).
As a condo owner myself, I know that when it comes to owning a condo you’re essentially buying into a community organization – which sort of has its own micro-government, and yes, politics. This does not mean that you will lose your own property and privacy rights, but there are also those rights of your neighbors that you need to consider. Thus, you need to know how the community operates and you need to be able to work within that community so that the collective whole benefits together.
Probably most importantly, you will want to familiarize yourself with the condominium declaration or the codes, covenants, and restrictions (CCRs). This is a governing document for the condominium and will provide you with a lot of information in regards to operations and potential restrictions. This document should be recorded with the county recorder or auditor’s office and thus will appear on your title. It is very important to get a copy of this document and read through it. For instance, if you plan to rent your condo in the future, you will want to know if there is a rental cap or other similar restriction in place. The CCRs will have this information.
In addition to the CCRs you will want to know about insurance coverage and the budget for the condo association. You do not want to end up in a situation where the association is under budgeted or you do not have proper insurance coverage. You should be able to obtain this information from the association president or other board members. Since you’re asking about these things, it would be wise to simply chat with some of the board members and your potential new neighbors. They might have some additional insight about the association and the building… not to mention you will be seeing these people from time to time – meetings, hallways, elevators, and just out and about.
Additional great resources regarding condominiums can be found at two other law blogs that I follow: Condominium Law Group, PLLC and their Condo Law Blog and the attorneys over at Barker Martin. Both of these firms and their blogs focus primarily on condominiums and should be highly valuable to your research or help with your current association.