11 practical questions to ask before buying a condo

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There’s a lot to consider when buying a condo, particularly the cost, as well as the structural and financial state of condo building. However, there are additional simple but practical things to ask before you buy.

1. Are there restrictions on pets?

Some condos have strict rules regarding pets, including bans on particular breeds, rules on the size of a pet, and restrictions on which common areas pets are allowed.

2. Can you barbecue on the deck?

You might think since this America you are free to grill year-round from the comfort of your own deck, but that’s not always the case. Some condo buildings don’t allow it, and some require any grilling to be done on a grill shared by the entire condo association, so you might be waiting for hours for someone to finish smoking a brisket so you can grill a couple hot dogs.

3. Can you start a home business there?

Rules forbidding condos from being used as band practice spaces and metal-working shops seem pretty reasonable, but restrictions on home businesses could impact something as harmless as a private consulting business operated from home. If you’re planning to use your condo as a home office you’ll want to be clear on the rules regarding what you can and can’t do there.

4. Are there limits on how long guests can stay?

Depending on your situation, rules limiting how long guests can stay could be a blessing or a curse. If you have a brother-in-law frequently getting kicked out of his house, it could be the perfect excuse to tell him to move along. On the other hand, if you have a friend hoping to visit for a couple weeks, such limits could really be a problem.

5. Is the building noisy or quiet?

If you’re typically in bed by 8 p.m. you might be thrilled about strict limits on when people can use the pool or play music, but if you’re someone who stays up late you might prefer a building with a more relaxed policy. And if you’re hoping to practice the electric guitar or your Gregorian chanting, you’ll want to review the condo building’s noise ordinance and possibly even drive by the condo building at night to check the scene. Various government agencies also map noise complaints so you can tell if your building is particularly noisy or not.

6. Is smoking or vaping allowed?

If you are a smoker you’ll want to know whether you’ll be forced to stand across the street in the rain each time you feel like lighting up, or if you can’t stand the smell of it you’ll want to know whether smoke will be pouring in your open window each time your neighbor lights up on the porch.

7. How many condo association meetings will you have to attend?

Aside from the payments, the most terrifying thing about owning a condo is having to attend condo association meetings. The number of meetings that are obligatory or optional varies by building. You probably want to have some input in how the building is run, but you might also want to avoid spending one Wednesday evening each month listening to people with no social skills commandeer a public meeting to rant for 30 minutes about someone mistakenly putting plastic forks in the recycling bin.

8. Are tenants allowed to rent their units on Airbnb or VRBO?

Whether you’re hoping to make income on your condo when you’re out of town or you’re looking to avoid being neighbors with what’s functionally a hotel room, you’ll need to find out what the building’s policy is regarding renting a unit out.

9. Are there restrictions on posting flags or signs?

Whether you want to show some team spirit or advocate for saving the whales, you might discover that you are forbidden from expressing yourself because of condo rules. Some buildings don’t allow you to hang flags from your deck, or post political signs in your windows, or other similar forms of expression.

10. Where will your guests park?

Depending on the density of the neighborhood the building is in, and the number of available guest parking spots your building has, you may discover there’s nowhere for guests to park. If you’re hoping your car-dependent friends are going to visit your new home, it’s something to consider.

11. How noisy is your block?

Location is everything, especially when it comes to noise and unruly people. If your condo is near a sports stadium, concert venue, popular protest route, or hospital you may discover your new home is bursting with drunk revelers, angry chanting, and constant sirens.

If you’re looking to buy a condo the simplest way to find the perfect one is on Estately.com.

Ryan Nickum