Condominium Buyer Important Information
Pacific Crest Inspections is an independent Home Inspection company serving Anacortes, Burlington, Wa., Mt. Vernon, Wa., and Oak Harbor, Wa. Pacific Crest Inspections provides condo, condominiums, property inspections and reserve studies in Skagit, Snohomish, Whatcom and Island Counties. Click here to see a map. In addition to Condo Inspections we also provide pre-listing, pre-sale and new construction inspections for residential, commercial multi-family, and light commercial buildings.
Many purchasers are not aware that in addition to buying or purchasing the condo unit, they are actually buying into the homeowners associations. Its similar to buying stock in a corporation. For example, if you are buying into a condominium complex that has 20 units. You will own 1/20th of all the common areas, and buildings. As a member of the association you will have voting rights to elect members to the board of directors and can voice an opinion as the board makes decisions. In smaller associations the board members will handle the day to day operation. In a larger association the board will have a management company handle day to day operations. In addition to your mortgage payment you will has an HOA fee that provides for maintenance to the common areas.
When your making an offer on a condominium you should request the following:
- CC&Rs (covenants, conditions and restrictions)
- Ask to see the minutes from the last 6 months of the home owners association (HOA) meetings.
- Request the HOA’s history of assessments to see how many have been made in the past 10 years and how large they have been.
Many condominiums have common mechanical and structural elements that are the responsibility of the home owners association you will be a member of after you buy your unit. These common elements will not be inspected at the same level of detail as they are not part of the unit you are buying. We will give an opinion of the overall condition. The maintenance, repairs and replacements of these common elements will be the responsibility of the association and paid for with your association dues or special assessments.
Every well run condominium association maintains a current reserve study. This study is usually performed by architects and engineers and will cover all of the mechanical and structural common elements. This study states the age and condition of these components and what type of maintenance, repair or replacement they will need during at least the next five years. The cost of any required future work during this period will also be stated. This study should be updated at least every 5 years.
You should review the most recent reserve study; then compare it against the most recent Association budget. The budget will list the reserve funds for future projects and should have adequate funds to cover everything listed in the reserve study. If not, you may be required to pay a special assessment to cover maintenance, repair or replacement projects.
For additional information, contact: Community Association
You are also entitled to copies of the minutes from the last six months of Board meetings. These minutes may have information about major expenses the Board is considering in the future that have not yet been voted on.
A very important question to ask when buying a condominium is:
Has there has ever been a special assessment levied?
If the answer is yes, make sure this was a very special situation and not one that should have been addressed by the association in it’s normal course of duty, otherwise you may be getting into an association that does not have a sound financial plan.
To find out more about the complex inhabitants and whether their lifestyles are compatible with your own the best thing to do is to visit the building and talk to different owners. Is the building noisy? Are there troublesome residents? What makes them troublesome? Are there children in the building? How old? How noisy? Are the common areas clean and well-maintained? Are owners satisfied with the management? Visit the building during different periods of the day to get a sense of the noise level and comings and goings of the residents. Also, walk around the neighborhood. Talk to the neighbors of your complex. What is their assessment of the buildings and its inhabitants? Noisy? Party-givers? Assess the traffic, both vehicular and pedestrian, on the street. Are there a lot of sirens? Noisy trucks? speeding cars? I used to live on a street that didn’t have too much car traffic, but was the main route for young people walking home late at night from the bars at the bottom of the hill. Needless to say it could get very noisy around one or two in the morning.