Tips for buying a condo in Colorado Springs
Condominiums and townhouses are springing up all over and it is attracting young couples, small families, and empty-nesters alike. Condo living is no longer relegated to the retired, bridge-playing couples in Florida. As a culture, our lifestyles are much busier and more active. More and more people are looking outside the usual single-family home environment to accommodate their desires to have more time and additional discretionary funds for entertaining, traveling, or other hobbies. Have you ever considered if condo living would be right for you? Condo living, surprisingly, can be a good investment if you want to simplify your life, travel often, would rather have amenities over square footage or land, or are eventually looking to convert your residence to a rental property.
SIMPLIFYING YOUR LIFE: There is a big trend developing toward living simply. Young couples and retired couples alike are seeing the value of living with less so they can do more. Our society has realized that the accumulation of lots of “stuff” has lead to extra work and responsibility to maintain that lifestyle, plus it takes away resources that can be used for other interests. A condominium provides a comfortable life at home, leaves a smaller ecological footprint, and frees up time and resources for travel, investing, and hobbies. Not to mention that less stuff = less stress!
FREQUENT TRAVELERS: A huge benefit of condo living is the maintenance-free life style. If you travel often for work or pleasure there is an added peace of mind knowing that lawn care or other maintenance issues are taken care of whether you are there or not. In addition there is also the added benefit of neighbors who are keenly aware of unfamiliar persons or activity in the community.
AMENITIES VS. SPACE: By giving up square footage and land with the purchase a condo you exchange it for a nicer living space or better amenities, in most cases. In general, purchasing a condo affords a more upscale living environment with better fixtures, appliances, flooring, and architecture - and sometimes community benefits such as pools or workout facilities - depending on the location. For example, in Colorado Springs, a $200k home most likely will be older, modest, have a small yard, and may need updating or other work done to it. The same $200k will buy an updated condo in a better location. You are effectively trading land for amenities and location.
POTENTIAL RENTAL INCOME: You may not be quite ready to have rental property, however by purchasing a condo to live in for a few years, you will have a ready-made stream of income down the road. Condos are easy rentals. Combined with rental prices sky-rocketing and an ever-ready military presence, rentals are always in demand in Colorado Springs. Owning a condominium for rental purposes as a potential stream of income might be a great option for you. Let’s sit down and discuss the viability of this income-generating possibility.
As with anything, there are downsides to Condo Living. Before you consider purchasing one you need to be aware of all aspects of living in a condominium community.
- Parking is limited. Most condos have a garage for ONE vehicle, so you will need to ask IF you have a garage and how many cars it fits. If you have a second or third vehicle find out what other parking options you have. If you receive guests in your home, will it be easy for them to find parking?
- You can hear your neighbors. Part of condo living is hearing your neighbors, especially if there is someone living above you. You will be able to hear them walking around, their dog barking, the washer and dryer, and other normal day-to-day activities. If you are prepared for this it shouldn’t be a problem. Still, you may want to find out about the neighbors around your potential condo purchase. Just be aware of what you are getting yourself into. If you are very active and like to have guests over often, a top floor condo may not be a good purchase decision.
- Pets. Unlike a home with a yard, when you live in a condo you do not have the luxury of letting your dog out into the yard while you continue to get ready in the morning or while cooking or watching tv. You will need to get up, get dressed, and take Fido out to the pet-friendly area of your community no matter what the weather is like. Also, some condo associations have restrictions as to the size or breed of dogs.
- HOA. Nearly every neighborhood now has HOA’s, and condos are no exception. It's smart to do a little research as to the cost and how well the community is managed.
- Stairs. If you find a condo with great views of our amazing mountains, you have most likely discovered a condo on the second or third floor. There is nothing as spectacular as those unobstructed views of the mountains - except for the stairs. It doesn’t seem like that big of a deal until your first trip to the grocery store or when moving large objects like furniture. If you don’t mind the extra exercise then go for it, but be mindful of any physical limitations of navigating staircases.
- Children. The majority of folks living in condominiums are retired couples, singles, and young couples. Children are few and far between. If you have children you may want to consider a more family-friendly option. First, there will not be other children around for your child to play with. Second, if you have multiple children they may be too noisy for a healthy relationship with your neighbors. Just something to keep in mind....
- Potential expenses Even though the HOA and builder is usually responsible for the upkeep of the buildings and surrounding property, they are not always financially responsible for any structural issues. For example, a storm causes damage to the roof: all residents must pay their share of the deductible and any expenses not covered by insurance. This may come as a big, and expensive, surprise if you are not aware of your responsibilities as an owner. Be informed of what you are responsible for and what the builder is responsible for before making your final purchase decision.
TIPS BEFORE YOU BUY
- Observe the complex, you will live in more closely. What's the activity during the week or on the weekends? Is there trash on the balcony?
- Make sure you find out about visitor parking...where and for how long are they allowed to park there?
- There might be financing restrictions, especially for FHA and VA loans, so research before you submit an offer.
- Condos appreciate at a different rate than townhomes and single family homes. I am happy to talk with you on the specifics and how this can affect your future real estate planning.
- Keep an open mind with your neighbors. Cigarette smoke and weed/pot smoke (now that it is legal in Colorado to smoke in your residence) can be an issue if you don't smoke yourself.
You may want to consider Condo Living if a simpler lifestyle, or the potential investment options, are a good choice for you. We would love to sit down with you discuss the specifics of the condo options in our area, look at the average rental prices and projections, and all the other opportunities with purchasing a condo.
Contact me, Susanna, at firstname.lastname@example.org for an appointment.
Wondering what the difference is between a townhouse and a condo?