Shared from the 1/26/2019 The Virginian-Pilot eEdition


Buying/selling a condo vs. a single-family home



Is selling or buying a home on your list of things to do in 2019? To be more specific, will you be selling or buying a condominium home?

A condo purchase or sale is not the same as selling or buying a single-family home, and different considerations must be taken into account.

To begin, there are additional documents, disclosures and contingencies used in a purchase agreement when selling a condo. And every condo community is different, with its own community rules, association fees, management companies and amenities. The condo community must provide the necessary financial documents, which include important information such as fees, studies, reserve funds, and covenants, conditions and restrictions.

There are additional documents and contingencies on the buyer side of the transaction as well. These condo documents and disclosures can be hundreds of pages long and have timelines as to when they must be completed, signed and submitted. When a buyer agrees to the condo association documents, he or she is bound to the condo association rules at the time of purchase.

Financing a condo is not the same as it is for a single-family residence, either. As with any home purchase, it is important to get preapproved prior to looking at any condos that are for sale. Obtaining financing for purchasing a condo can be complicated or difficult. Some lenders and loan products may not allow condo purchases.

If you are planning to obtain a Federal Housing Administration or Veterans Affairs loan to purchase a condo, the first step is to ensure that the condo community is on their approved community list. FHA has special requirements for condo communities, such as a minimum number of units in the community must be owner-occupied.

When purchasing a condo, you must know what the association fees are. In most condo communities, there are monthly, quarterly or annual fees. Each resident is required to pay these fees. The fees are typically used to cover expenses such as maintenance and insurance.

Association fees can impact whether a buyer can purchase a condo, too. When approving a buyer, lenders will add the association fee into his/her monthly expenses/debts. It is possible that the fees can prohibit a buyer from qualifying for the purchase a condo.

Are you considering going through that buying process without the help of a real estate professional? With all the information available online, it might seem easy on the surface, and there’s no law stating you must use a real estate professional. However, when making one of the biggest financial decisions of your life, it’s smart to have one on your side.

Why? Because making a significant purchase without involving a professional — such as a Realtor, who is an agent or broker with membership in the National Association of Realtors and must meet strict education requirements and adhere to a detailed code of ethics to treat his or her clients with honesty and fairness — comes with its own legal and financial risks in these dealings. Not all agents are Realtors.

If you are selling, a Realtor has the expertise to help you navigate the paperwork needed to sell your condo, ensuring that important documents are not overlooked, and will provide a comparative market analysis, or CMA, of your condo community to ensure it meets your expectation of getting top dollar for your home.

Additionally, working with real estate professionals in such industries as mortgage loans, law and titling will help you in navigating the complex and sometimes confusing process of getting qualified for a mortgage, finding a home, and the extensive paperwork of contracts, disclosures, contingencies and inspections — while helping to avoid delays or costly mistakes that can damage a transaction.

With these fellow industry professionals, and working with integrity, honor, professionalism and the expertise that meets or exceeds your standards in a condo sale or purchase, a Realtor will make recommendations to help make your condo sale or purchase less stressful.

Jennifer Ireland is a Realtor with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Towne Realty and co-chair of the Hampton Roads Realtors Association’s Common Interest Community Forum. Have a question about a condo or common interest community topic? Email For more on HRRA, go to, or call 757-473-9700. This column is not legal advice nor a legal recommendation.

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