Questions to Ask About a Condo or Townhome

Buying within condo or townhome community generally offers certain perks, but it’s important to know what you’re getting into before you make the leap.

Consider these questions in your decision-making process.

How much storage is available?

Some properties include storage lockers, but there may not be attics or basements to hold extra belongings.

How’s the outdoor space?

Your yard will likely be smaller than you’d have with single-family home. If you dread yard work, it may be the perfect option.

Are amenities important?

Many condo and townhome communities offer swimming pools, fitness centers and other facilities that would cost much more in a single-family setting.

Who handles maintenance and security?

Property managers often hire professionals to care for common areas and perform in-unit repairs. Make sure you're comfortable with the security measures in place to regulate access to the building and your unit.

Are there required reserve funds and association fees? How much are they?

Fees help pay for amenities and provide savings for future repairs. Even if you’re not in favor of the board's decisions on amenities and improvements, be aware that the HOA or condo board determines these fees, and you’ll have to pay them.

What are the association rules?

Although you have a vote on future changes, association rules can dictate how you use your property. Some condos prohibit home-based businesses; others prohibit pets or don’t allow owners to rent out their units. Read the covenants, restrictions, and bylaws carefully before you make an offer.

What’s the average vacancy rate?

It’s never too early to be thinking about resale. The ease of selling your unit may depend on what else is for sale in your building, since units are similar. 

How many units are owned by investors?

Some lenders require a certain percentage of the building to be owner-occupied and may not be able to offer you financing if the ratio is too low.

Can I meet other residents before making an offer?

You will share space and decision-making duties with your neighbors when part of a homeowner association, so it’s important to make sure you can work together. If possible, try to meet your closest prospective neighbors before you decide on a place.