Portland Condos and Townhomes
Purchasing Guidelines and Considerations
When purchasing a condo there are many details to consider that may not apply when purchasing a single family home. Some important factors to ensure that your investment will be a good one include:
Make sure that you ask for the last three to six months of the condominium minutes. This information will provide you with key insight into what is happening in the building. Obtain a copy of the Declaration, the Bylaws, and all documented rules and regulations from the Condo Association.
To make sure you are buying into a financially sound building, it is also advisable to find out if the building has any outstanding loans with a bank. Some buildings may take out loans instead of doing a special assessment. It is a common way to finance major work such as new elevators or the exterior facade repair without calling a special assessment.
Make sure you obtain a statement from the Condo Association of any capital expenditures anticipated by the Board within the current or succeeding two fiscal years. In Maine you are entitled to review these documents prior to completing a purchase. Find out from the Condo Association if there are any pending suits or judgments in which the Board is a party.
If the building is newer, find out if the parking is deeded or assigned and whether you can later sell it to a purchaser outside the building. Also, make sure you see the exact location of the parking spot before you write a contract to purchase the property.
Buildings with substantial reserves and lower assessments tend to appreciate at a faster rate than other buildings in a similiar location. Keep in mind that assessments are based on the level of amenities in the building.
The more horizontal a unit is the more apt it will have better resale value. Vertical units tend to have more hallways and stairs which eat up floor space. They also typically do not have split bedrooms.
The higher the ceilings in a unit the larger the unit will feel. Most people typically prefer 9 foot ceilings or higher and these units should realize a higher resale figure. Older townhomes typically have 8ft ceilings; newer ones have anywhere from 9 to 10 foot ceilings.
In today's market, kitchens are extremely important and in many cases people prefer an eat-in kitchen. Space for a breakfast table or an island that allows for seating is a clear upgrade. Stainless steel appliances and granite countertops are extremely popular.
Most condos and townhomes have hardwood floors in the living room and kitchen. Properties with hardwood floors in the bedrooms as well are typically more expensive. Hardwood floors on the diagonal are considered premium because they make a room look larger.
Beware that not all hardwood floors are equal. The standard is maple, oak (and white oak) but some townhomes feature pre-fab hardwood floors. You should try to purchase a home with real hardwood floors as you may need to re-sand them for maintenance. Note that a top of the line flooring is Brazilian cherry hardwood.
When purchasing a fee simple home you own the property and the land all the way to the roof. So if something goes wrong with the unit, you are responsible for repairs. In a condominium townhome project you own a share in the development; therefore if something goes wrong with common elements for the other units; everyone shares the expense of the repair.
Low assessments in the condominium complex will typically help in the resale of a home. As a rule, buyers prefer to be in townhomes with assessments less than $500.00 per month.
Understand the calculation of the square footage and keep in mind that the actual livable square feet could be less - depending upon what is included.
Schedule a time to review actual samples of all finishes provided by the developer. Pay particular attention to base board design and any unusual ceiling design elements such as tray ceilings and recessed lighting. Ask what kind of cabinets are standard, which are upgraded and their height (typically 42 inches is preferred). Make sure you like the appliance package as some developers will not give you a credit to substitute other appliances.
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