If you like the idea of owning your own property, but you don't want to have to keep up with a lawn and exterior work, then purchasing a condo may seem like the ideal choice. Especially when you purchase a new-construction condo, you generally get a beautiful interior living area that you can customize as you wish, set on property that is cared for by a homeowner's association.
Unfortunately, a lot of people who opt to buy new-construction condos make some mistakes that end up costing them money or happiness along the way. Avoid these mistakes for a more positive buying and living experience.
Mistake #1: Assuming that everything included in the model home will be included in yours.
When you go to see the model home, it is generally dressed to the nines with the highest quality dishwasher, refrigerator, countertops and other elements. Many shoppers assume that the condo they are purchasing will come with the same elements. However, this is not always the case. If you read the fine print in your contract, you may find that the options displayed in the model home were optional upgrades. Unless you specifically request them, lower-end appliances and accessories may be included in the condo you're buying.
To avoid being surprised when your condo looks different from the model, always check with your real estate agent to be sure you know exactly what appliances and specialty elements will be included in your condo. Be prepared to pay a little more if you want the upgrades seen in the model home.
Mistake #2: Not getting a home inspection.
You might assume that since the condo will be brand new, you'll be safe buying it without having it inspected by a building inspector first. While there may be a lower risk of hidden problems with a new home than an older one, this does not mean there is no risk at all.
You should always have a building inspection conducted by a reputable inspector before signing on the dotted line for your new-construction condo. The inspector may identify mistakes that were made during building that would compromise safety if left alone. It's better to discover these early on than later, when your home is collapsing around you or your walls have begun to crack.
Mistake #3: Not accounting for closing costs.
Closing costs vary widely by region; in some areas they are substantial, and in other areas they may be just a few hundred dollars. However, it's common for buyers to overlook the fact that when it comes time to close on their condo, they'll own more than the down payment. There will also be lawyer fees, funds owed to your real estate agent, and perhaps some tax fees owed to your municipality. Ask your real estate agent for an estimate of your closing costs up front, and then set that money aside, so you're not struggling to find cash when it's time to close.
Mistake #4: Not working with your own real estate agent.
There is generally a real estate agent working with the builder of the condos. He or she is the representative of the builder. If you show up to inquire about purchasing a condo without your own agent, the builder's agent may offer to represent you as well. Even though the agent may claim to be unbiased when representing both you and the builder, this is not the best arrangement, since you'll never know if he or she truly has your best interests at heart -- or those of the buyer. You'll have an easier time negotiating a fair deal on a new condo if you hire your own agent -- preferably one from a different firm than the one representing the builders.
If you can avoid the mistakes above, the process of buying and moving into your new condo should go a lot more smoothly.