Pros & Cons of Buying a Condo – Is It Worth It?

By Heather Levin

If you’re thinking about purchasing a home, buying a condo might look pretty appealing. After all, you don’t have to worry about exterior maintenance, you get a pool you don’t have to pay for or keep clean, and you get an awesome fitness center (which saves money on your gym membership).

It’s like an apartment that you own. What’s not to love?

Like everything in life, there are pros and cons to buying a condo. Before you sign on the dotted line, it’s important to weigh these important factors, and remember some key questions to ask when buying a condo.

Pros of Buying a Condominium

  1. Security. Many condos offer gated or locked entries, doormen, or even security professionals for residents. If you live alone, or security is a concern for you, this can be a major perk. In addition, you’re living in close proximity with many other people; in an emergency, you’ll have plenty of people to turn to for help.
  2. Amenities. Want a pool? A fitness center? Wednesday game nights at the community clubhouse? Many condo communities offer residents amenities that are out of reach for the average homeowner.
  3. Maintenance. One of the biggest benefits to living in a condo is that other people do the maintenance for you. They cut the grass and maintain the grounds, they fix the roof, and there are plenty of workers on hand for when your furnace quits. If you’re a first time homeowner, in poor health, busy with work, like to travel, or you just don’t want to deal with all that work, this is a major benefit to living in a condo.
  4. Affordability. Condominiums are often priced lower than single-family homes. If you want to dive into home ownership, a condo can be a great first step.

Cons of Condo Living

  1. Homeowners Association Fees. As you might imagine, that pool, fitness center, security system, and maintenance crew all cost money. And, that money is paid by you. When you buy a condo, you essentially become a business partner in that community. You pay a monthly fee each month (on top of your mortgage) which goes towards the upkeep of the property, as well as future investments (e.g. a playground addition or dog run). How much will you have to pay each month? HOA fees vary widely, depending on the location, size, and quality of your community, but plan on spending at least $300 a month in association fees. It’s not cheap.
  2. Lack of Privacy. Remember when I mentioned that a condo is essentially like an apartment that you own? Well, you get all the “perks” of apartment living too; and this includes neighbors on the other side of the wall, and neighbors going up and down the hall or grounds at all hours of the day and night. If you’re looking for some peace and quiet around you, a condo may not be the right choice.
  3. Delinquency. Condos have been hit hard by the recession. As more people struggle to make ends meet, more condo owners are dropping out of paying their association dues. What happens in this case? Dues go up for everyone else to cover this delinquency. This means you’re stuck holding the short end of the stick.
  4. Challenging to Sell. Condos can be difficult to sell. Why? Well, they pretty much all look the same. If there are empty units in your building, those are likely going to sell first. And if there are a lot of empty units…good luck.
  5. Living by the Rules. Living in a condo means you have to live by the management’s rules. For instance, say you want to install green energy technology like a solar panel on the roof to save energy at home. Instead of just getting started, you have to ask the condo association if it’s ok. If they say no, you’re out of luck. There are many rules for living in a condo; for some people, this can be stifling.
  6. Slow Appreciation. Condominiums often appreciate in value much slower than single-family homes. This is because you don’t own any land, which is the biggest driver for appreciation. Instead, you only own the living space. There’s a big difference.
  7. Board.   Lack of transparency.  Selective enforcement.   Seasoned members know how to manipulate Management company, attorney and staff.

Ask any successful real estate investor…..Do you own any condos in your portfolio?  You will be surprised that most do not invest in condos.  Too many variables that can hinder return on investment.

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What do today’s buyers want in a home?

NEW YORK – Aug. 5, 2015 – What building materials are trending in new-home construction? The latest Annual Builder Practices Survey, conducted by Home Innovation, reveals what buyers can expect to see in the new-home market.

1. Garages: The garage door is getting more enhancements, including windows, insulated doors, and doors made of composite or plastic materials. In 2014, 32 percent of all new single-family homes had bays for three or more cars – the most ever recorded in this study’s history.

2. Flooring: Carpeting continues to be the most popular flooring option for new construction, included in about 83 percent of all new-home bedroom installations. However, only about 40 percent of living rooms now have carpet. Hardwood flooring – both solid and engineered– is the second most popular type of flooring included in 27 percent of all new-home installations. Ceramic tile (which appears in 72 percent of all bathroom floor installation) follows in third place, making up 20 percent of all new-home floor installations.

3. Countertops: For kitchen countertops, granite continues to reign in two out of three homes (64 percent of new-home installations). Quartz/engineered stone is gaining popularity while laminate, solid surfacing and ceramic tile are losing appeal.

4. Appliances: Cooktops and wall oven combinations are gaining in popularity and make up about 24 percent of the market, compared to freestanding ovens (45 percent). Freezer-on-bottom refrigerators are gaining in popularity at 19 percent, while side-by-side has fallen to 28 percent of the share.

5. Kitchen sinks: More buyers are paying attention to their kitchen sink, with the single basin kitchen sink making a comeback, growing from 5 percent to 20 percent of all new single-family homes in the past decade. Also growing in popularity are granite/stone kitchen sinks (at 8 percent). One-piece cultured marble lavatories are continuing to decline in demand.

Source: “Material World: The Hottest Trends From the 2015 Builder Practices Survey,” BUILDER Online (July 29, 2015)

© Copyright 2015 INFORMATION, INC. Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688

4 Florida cities tops for seriously underwater homes

IRVINE, Calif. — July 30, 2015 — RealtyTrac released its second quarter (Q2) 2015 U.S. Home Equity & Underwater Report, which listed four Florida cities at the top of the list for homes seriously underwater – properties where the homeowners owe at least 25 percent more than the home’s current market worth.

Areas (population greater than 500,000) with the highest percentage of seriously underwater properties included Florida markets such as Lakeland (28.5 percent), Cleveland, Ohio (28.2 percent), Las Vegas (27.9 percent), Akron, Ohio (27.3 percent), Orlando (26.1 percent), Tampa (24.8 percent), Chicago (24.8 percent), Palm Bay(24.4 percent) and Toledo, Ohio (24.3 percent).

In addition, RealtyTrac looked at underwater homes that are also in the foreclosure process.

In the same Florida cities, over half of the homeowners going through foreclosure were seriously underwater:Lakeland (54.8 percent of foreclosures seriously underwater), Tampa (51.7 percent), Palm Bay (51.5 percent) and Orlando (51.2 percent).

Statewide, 23.6 percent Florida of homeowners with a mortgage were seriously underwater in the Q2 2015 – a drop from 23.8 percent in the first quarter and 30.3 percent year-to-year.

On the flipside, RealtyTrac found that 17.6 percent of Florida owners with a mortgage were “equity rich” with at least 50 percent equity. That’s a slight drop for the first quarter’s 17.8 percent but an increase from 15.9 percent year-to-year.

Looking only at homes in foreclosure, 62.8 percent in Florida were seriously underwater, while 18.6 percent, even though going through foreclosure, were equity rich.

“Strong South Florida price increases over the past few years have moved many homeowners from negative to positive equity. We would encourage the remaining distressed homeowners to ask for a Broker Price Opinion (BPO) regarding the value of their property – many may be surprised at their improving value,” says Mike Pappas, CEO and president of Keyes Company in South Florida.

National numbers

Nationwide, 13.3 percent of all properties with a mortgage were seriously underwater in Q2, an increase from 13.2 percent of all homes in the first quarter. However, they dropped from 17.2 percent year-to-year. At the peak of the foreclosure crisis in 2012, the percentage was 28.6 percent.

“Slowing home price appreciation in 2015 has resulted in the share of seriously underwater properties plateauing at about 13 percent of all properties with a mortgage,” says Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac.

“However, the share of homeowners with the double-whammy of seriously underwater properties also in foreclosure is continuing to decrease and is now at the lowest level we’ve seen since we began tracking that metric in the first quarter of 2012,” he adds.

© 2015 Florida Realtors®

Flagler Village – Avenue Lofts….Great News for The Area!

AVENUE LOFTS, AVENUE LOFTS FOR SALE, AVENUE LOFTS RENTALS, FAT VILL, FAT VILLAGE, FLAGLER VILLAGE CIVIC ASSOCIATION, LOFTS FOR RENT FORT LAUDERDALE

via Flagler Village – Avenue Lofts….Great News for The Area!.

Flagler Village – Avenue Lofts….Great News for The Area!

Great news…..Build A Bette Block’s event was a hit.   Read article in the South Florida Business Journal…

 

FAT Village brings art to downtown Fort Lauderdale

South Florida Business Journal by Kevin Gale, Editor in Chief

Date: Monday, June 18, 2012, 12:51pm EDT

Editor in Chief- South Florida Business Journal

 

The “Build a Better Block” street party on Saturday highlighted a redeveloping area just north of downtown Fort Lauderdale.

The party featured a lot of artists, many of whom have galleries in the area, a fitness demonstration, a mini-dog park, street theater, food trucks and temporary exhibitions.

The Flagler Village area between Andrews Avenue and the Florida East Coast Railway   tracks has seen a wave of loft developments and the street party highlighted the FAT Village arts district, which has a gallery walk from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. the last Saturday of each month.

Walking through the block party on Saturday made me think of the pointsRichard Florida, author of “The Rise of the Creative Class,” has made about how creative thinking and cultural diversity (including a thriving arts scene) are key ingredients to making economies function best.

That was apparent to me during a recent visit to Asheville, N.C., which has a thriving arts scene, a youthful population and anational reputation as a cool place to live. One of the challenges in South Florida, many economic development leaders note, is keeping young people here after they graduate from college – or getting them to return if they go to college somewhere else.

While there was a mix of all ages at the street party, there was a definite youthful vibe among the attendees and artists.

Among the most successful artists in FAT Village is Alfred Phillips, whose studio is at 113 N.W. Fifth St. He has won “Art Florida” top award for his “Tourist Show” piece and was named best visual artist by the New Times in 2010.

Some of Phillips’ paintings reflect the somewhat urban gritty neighborhood that Flagler Village is morphing out of with chain link fences, alleys and railroad crossings while others are acrylic representations of models or workers.

Paul Fioretti manages to combine art made out of car parts with his South Florida Window Lift business at 445 N.W. First Ave.

One $250 piece had pieces of cranks shafts topped by eight timing belts wrapped around to form a bowl that could create a fire pit. The light from the first spills out through the links in the chain, said Fioretti, who has Indu Art Gallery.

The local project on Saturday was organized by Florida Atlantic University’s    Cadence School of Urban and Regional Planning.

Collaborators included the Flagler Village Civic Association, Radio-Active Records, Public Image Vintage, C&I Studios, Artist Luke Jenkins, Zahn Development, Hooper Development, Urban Matters, Helium Creative, Fort Lauderdale DDA, Fort Lauderdale Northwest Community Redevelopment Agency and the city of Fort Lauderdale.

Hooper Development has largely fueled the wave of loft construction in the neighborhood. Based on an MLS search, it looks like most of the lofts have been sold. There were six listingsranging from $179,000 to $500,000 in the neighborhood when I checked on Monday.

Just west of the tracks, work continues on the streetscape along Sistrunk Street (Northwest Sixth Avenue), which hopefully could spur the type of renaissance seen in New York City’s Harlem area. A greenway is also being constructed along Flagler Drive between Andrews Avenue and Sunrise Boulevard.

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