The Lowdown on Condos

Have you ever considered condo living? The benefits for many include less yard and exterior maintenance, shared common spaces like pools and fun hang out areas and a sometimes easier ability to get to know other locals. That’s what can happen when you share a wall right?

West Michigan has a plethora of condo options, including several downtown areas, neighborhoods surrounding our main metro and some developments that are attached to golf or sporting areas. While we continue to see new construction grow, many builders are adding condos and townhomes to their developments to stand alone or join single family residences.

The condo buying process, while similar to a single family home, does have some quirks and differences that shouldn’t be ignored. Read on to learn about the process and things to consider when looking for your new home.

1) Hire a Buyer’s Agent AND Lender that are knowledgeable and experienced with condo purchases and sales. This really does make a difference in how smooth your search and purchase will go. In regards to lending, be on the lookout for if the development is deemed non-warrantable. A building is deemed non-warrantable based on several factors including commercial space, owned vs rented units and majority owners. Make sure you cover this conversation with your lender, so you know upfront if this is a viable option for you.

2) Do your due diligence on the association. Every association is different, but their information should be public. Read the bi-laws and master deeds and make sure to ask questions like the ones below, and to get the answers in writing. While the MLS is a great resource, it isn’t always correct. Finding out this information is the responsibility of the buyer. We always recommend going right to the source!


What do the association dues include?
How much have the monthly association dues risen over the past several years?
Have there been any major assessments in the past 5 years, and do you anticipate any upcoming assessments?
Is there a buy-in or move-in fee?

You may want to also consider asking about these additional items depending on the development.

Parking accessibility, do you own your spots or are they “rented” from the association
Security, including cameras, doors and possibly doorman duties
Who is responsible for the common areas, and do you need to “rent” them for use
Pet restrictions
Responsibility for deck maintenance
Is the condo rentable should you need to move in the future
What new developments are happening around the building that could affect your view or privacy
What is the guest policy

3) Spend some time touring the entire building with your agent, and feel free to take the opportunity to ask questions or talk to any residents you see in the hallways. They are going to give you the best (although sometimes biased) insider scoop on the building. Much like we recommend when considering which neighborhood you would like to live in, view the development at different times of the day and week to get a good feel for what its like to live there full time. You may also want to consider if a majority of the owners leave during the Winter months.

As experienced condo buying agents we are here and ready to help make this process as smooth and fun as possible. Contact us today to start the conversation…

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