Oh Condos, We Love You

People either understand condos or they don’t. If you lived in a single family house that’s not in an HOA/planned community for your entire life, congratulations! You’re one of the lucky few! The idea of living in a community that has rules and regulations about what you can and cannot do is probably outrageous to people who haven’t lived in this setup. They don’t understand this type of homeownership and why anyone would voluntarily subject themselves to it. But many cities and more densely populated areas lend themselves well to condo developments because land is expensive. It’s “cheaper to build up than out.”

Condos have governing documents that a seller needs to provide once you have a ratified contract. Getting this package is required by law in most if not all jurisdictions, and you have a specific period of time in which to review. In Washington DC, you have 3 business days to review condo documents. In Maryland you have 7 calendar days and in Virginia you have 3 calendar days.

What should you do with this package of documents? If you answered “use them to hold up the corner of my broken bed,” I’m sorry, but you are incorrect. Read through them to ensure that there aren’t any restrictions on how you want to use your home. Do you have three dogs and the condo only allows two? Do you plan to raise chickens so you can have fresh eggs for breakfast every morning and the condo doesn’t allow livestock? (Pretty much all condos don’t allow livestock.) Do you plan to rent your condo on Airbnb and the condo has a minimum rental lease term such as 6 months or a year?

The documents are often boilerplate, but the main hot buttons for buyers usually are the following:

  1. Does the condo have enough money to pay for any large expenditures?

  2. Pet rules - are they allowed, how many, are there breed restrictions?

  3. Rental rules - are rentals allowed, do they need to be approved by board, what rules apply, what is the minimum lease term allowed?

  4. Know what amenities are in the community and if any fees are associated with their use.

When you live in close quarters with others, be prepared that what others do in their homes next door or upstairs/downstairs from you will affect you as well. Definitely do not cancel your homeowner’s insurance if you pay off your mortgage. You could be one bullet away from a bitter ex taking out a toilet tank and flooding your living room.

We hear Michael coo about the houses he showed an out of town client and the 70’s relics he saw. Melissa bitches about a listing agent that didn’t check on house repairs and only offered $100 in compensation. We learn that you can get engaged over a bottle of Jack, that Breezewood, Pennsylvania may be in the middle of nowhere but it is is an adorable little town and that chain smokers with oxygen tanks can absolutely explode.