What You Need to Know if You’re Buying a Condominium

October 8, 2019

What You Need to Know if You’re Buying a Condominium

There might be a few reasons that you’re intent on buying a condominium rather than a one-family house. Whether you’re looking to occupy a condo yourself or acquire it for investment purposes, there are more than a few things you should know.

In the first place, you should understand the difference between purchasing a condominium and buying into cooperative “coop” housing. Under real estate laws in Pennsylvania and throughout the country, both represent common interest ownership.

While some think of condos and coops as apartment style living, this isn’t necessarily always the case. Additionally, most retirement communities with age restrictions also include common interest ownership. The latter often have rules associated with homeowners’ associations (HOAs.)

You might already guess some of the things you need to think about when buying into any kind of property that includes common interest ownership. Last year, Pennsylvania amended condominium laws, which appear in Title 68, Chapter 33 of the Consolidated Statutes.

When you buy into a condo, coop, or some other type of common interest property, you are subject to different kinds of rules. You may want to ask about the By-laws governing the property before you make a final purchase decision.

Buying a Condominium: Some Questions to Ask

Although some prospective homeowners prefer to close residential real estate deals without the benefit of legal counsel, you should know the advantages. This is particularly true when it comes to purchasing any type of property where there are common grounds.

Whether they’re called By-laws or Rules and Regulations, you should know that you are under a legal obligation to follow them when you move into a common interest property. You should ask as many questions as possible.

Some HOAs can be quite restricting. For example, they might limit the number of pets you decide to keep in your home. You could also find yourself constrained as far as the color you decide to paint the exterior of your home. 

While these might not upset you quite so much, you should think about the following:

  • Who makes the decision for improvements to common areas?  For example, what if your outdoor swimming pool is unheated and residents want to purchase a heater?
  • How are capital expenses assessed among members of the community? What happens if the sidewalks need to be repaired or replaced?
  • Are there age restrictions as far as purchase and/or occupancy?  If you live in an over 55 community, can school-aged children live with you?
  • What are the monthly maintenance costs? What do they include? What is the history as far as increases?
  • What happens when homes within the condo association are foreclosed? What happens to unpaid fees due the association?

While these are just some issues that may come up in you purchase a condominium, there can be many others. Therefore, it is critical to speak with an experienced real estate attorney and understand the transaction before you proceed.

Contact Us

Thinking of buying a condo, coop or other common interest property? At Mazzoni Karam Petorak & Valvano, we have extensive experience representing both sellers and purchasers.  Contact our office for assistance.

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