When you're looking for a place to call your own, you've got options. From standalone single-family homes to townhomes and even condos, there's a residence type for every buyer. For first-time buyers, condominiums are a popular choice due to their relatively affordable costs, low maintenance, and amenities. Before you decide to start shopping for a condo, however, there are a few questions you should ask yourself.
How Much Space Do You Need?
Start by being realistic about how much space you need. While condos can vary greatly in their size, they are typically quite smaller than single-family homes and townhomes. In fact, the average condo in the United States is about 1,200 square feet. Think about how much space you currently have and compare it to the average size of condos in your desired area. And of course, if you plan on staying in your condo indefinitely, you'll also want to factor in future size needs if you grow a family or even adopt a pet.
What Are Your Borrowing Options?
Compared to buying a single-family home, your borrowing options can be a bit more limited when buying a condominium, but there are still mortgages to choose from. The Federal Housing Administration offers FHA loans on condos that meet specific requirements; an FHA loan can be a great choice for first-time buyers due to the flexible loan terms and low down payment required.
Are You Comfortable With Covenants?
Most condominium buildings will have strict by-laws and covenants in place that all residents must abide by. For example, you might not be permitted to paint your front door certain colors, or you may not be allowed to have a barbecue grill on your balcony. You'll also probably need to pay a monthly management fee for services like common-area landscaping and amenities, so make sure this is something you're comfortable with before you commit to condo living.
Even before you make an offer on a condo, it's always a good idea to review a copy of the building's covenants and by-laws to make sure there are no conflicts or dealbreakers.
For many first-time buyers, condo living is an excellent choice. If you decide that you want to call a condominium your first home, make sure you're represented by a real estate agent who has specific experience handling condo deals. From there, you'll have all the help you need to get an offer approved on your dream property. Look for condos for sale in an area you like.