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What’s a Condo?

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A condominium or “Condo” is an ownership concept, often in an apartment building. The owner receives a deed for the apartment and pays real estate taxes on their unit.  Condo owners share ownership of common areas such as hallways, property grounds, elevators, and community amenities like pools and fitness centers.

Condo Maintenance Fees

Owners pay fees to maintain the grounds and the building (or buildings, for a larger complex). The owner pays fees to contribute to the building maintenance, the land, and the collective utilities.  What maintenance fees cover will vary from association to association. Roof and exterior maintenance, pool care, landscaping, water, trash collection, and building insurance are common items included in the maintenance fee.  It is common for maintenance fees to increase.  You should ask if there are any proposals to raise the dues when purchasing a condo in Florida.

Board of Directors

The owners elect a board usually consisting of a president, vice president, treasurer, and secretary.  The association makes decisions for the owners and carries out day-to-day activities.  The board drafts and enforces the rules and regulations, sets budgets and repair schedules, maintains insurance coverage, conducts community meetings, and levies assessments. The president of the association is like the CEO of a corporation and is the spokesperson for the board.

Condo Purchasing

Condo living is very popular in South Florida.  Many Floridians enjoy the minimal maintenance that is afforded by condo living.  For individuals looking to live beachfront, condos are generally a less expensive option than single-family homes.  When purchasing a condo in Florida, you will need to be approved by the association.  The application process usually involves a credit and background check. You might have to sit through an interview with the board as well.

Financing a condo can be more challenging than securing a mortgage for a single-family home.  Your lender will require a condo questionnaire to ensure that the association is in good financial standing.  If the building is not approved for FHA financing, you will need to ask your lender if he or she is willing and able to perform a single-unit approval.  Furthermore, the board may require larger down payments for condo purchases in some buildings to hedge against default.

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