How to Survive and Avoid Being A Condo Zombie
If you know me or have followed my rants the past 5 years or so you know that I was suckered into buying bad real estate in the state of MA. Sure I signed the documents at closing, but all information given by the Condo Association and the Seller’s Agent was false. I write this guide because I don’t want anyone else to experience what I’ve gone through and am still going through after 5 years since signing at the closing of my first home. I have been through the worst case scenario. From desperate sellers to ignorant owners and criminal investors.
I’m Undead to the world of Banking and Real Estate. Caught between the world of the Renter and the world of the Owner.
This guide will help you, the first time or novice buyer, avoid my mistakes and prevent doing time in real estate purgatory.
Each section of this guide will include some of my real life experiences of becoming a Condo Zombie called the Voice From the Grave.
You will be given the key items to request, what Condo Associations to avoid, and tips on how to protect yourself BEFORE signing on the dotted line.
This is not meant to scare you from buying a Condo. My experiences are worst case and there are good Real Estate Agents and Condo Associations out there.
Though owning a Condo may seem ideal and convenient for the first time buyer, the market is filled with ghastly characters and open graves. Let’s start our adventure, shall we?
Part One: Finding Your Dream Condo
You’ve saved your pennies. Put in countless hours of overtime. The pre-Approval from the Mortgage Office came in and you’ve been searching the ads for the perfect place. You miss your parents and siblings so much you want to buy a Condominium. After all, owning a Condo is much like living at home with your family. You remember your family right? The old man fused to the single chair in the living room, Mom going through your drawers and throwing away your special magazines, the sibling in the bathroom using all of the hot water while another sibling in your room taking your favorite shirt.
For the most part, a Condominium is an Apartment that someone owns. You still share space in the building called “Common Areas” and to an extent the parking areas as well. Each Condo owner shares ownership and responsibility of the property as a whole. The same goes for a 2 Unit group or a 200 Unit group. A monthly Condo Fee or Association Dues is paid to maintain and insure the entire property.
Oh, and there’s rules too just like back home. Restrictions on pets, quiet times, parking locations, external colors of the building, and the amount of improvements made to each Unit form what is called the Association Document. (Doesn’t sound like the American Dream of Freedom eh?) Each owner is LEGALLY obligated to follow the Association rules or risk fines and assessments or even a law suit.
You sure you want to go through with this? Yes?
Ok, you found a listing that catches your eye and haunts you while you sleep. Time to contact your Real Estate Agent. Enter the Buyer Agent. You don’t have to go through this process alone. The Buyer Agent is meant to walk you through the buying process from looking at the property to submitting the offer.
The Buyer Agent will protect you from the undead ghouls in the market and make sure your experience is nothing but good things and praises on your Facebook and Twitter feeds.
Voice From the Grave – My Buyer Agent did nothing but show me Units. They did not explain to me anything about Condos or the buying process. We jumped from Unit to Unit. After each showing I got the old “So you ready to make an offer?” I’ll be honest, when I finally found the Unit I ended up with I loved the house. It had everything I wanted in a home. Built in 1920, period details preserved, and enough space to grow and in an ideal location. Since my Buyer Agent didn’t keep me grounded during the process I was in full property lust.
Don’t be afraid to ask how many Condos your Buyer Agent has sold. Explain up front what your budget is, what you’ve been approved for and how much you expect to use as your down payment. The Buyer Agent really is your shield to protect you from getting bit and becoming a Condo Zombie. Mine however, was more focused on comi$$ion from the sale. There are many of these types out there and should be avoided as much as you avoid zombies.
Here we go, time for the Unit Showing ……………. (continued in part two)