Buying a Condominium is a lot different than buying a single family home. There are pros and cons and understanding the difference between the two is a major deciding factor for many.
Before you sign a contract and agree to purchase a condominium unit, there are a few things you will definitely want to see first. Ask the Seller to provide you with the “Condo Docs” which is the Declaration of Condominium that is filed as soon as the Condominium is built and the Association is formed. These documents will provide you with a wealth of information on the “rules and regulations” of the building. By reviewing this document entirely, along with all the amendments, you will discover if you have a right to replace carpeting with tile within the unit, whether or not you can have a pet, a party with more than 6 guests and so on. The Association has powers that far exceed those of an individual homeowner.
The Association has the right to approve, or disapprove any potential resident, whether it’s a buyer, renter, visitor, etc. The Association can also decide how long a visitor may visit, be it overnight or a month. Generally, they will make a determination in order to prevent unit owners from collecting rent without the association’s approval of said tenant. Therefore, most Associations will have a specific reference as to the definition of a visitor and the frequency such guest may stay overnight.
Most people think of a condominium as maintenance free. Although that may be true in the physical sense, you will still be paying to have the upkeep. You will be responsible for paying a monthly/quarterly or yearly Association due(s). This fee varies widely from one building to the next. These fees are collected from each unit and are applied towards the operational cost of the building, for insurance, maintenance of the common areas, including the grounds and pool, payroll of the condominium personnel (not the Association members), and annual licenses as required by the local municipalities. Also, there may be special assessments if the Board does not have enough in the reserve account to cover any special projects, such as roofing, concrete restoration, etc. It is important that you request a copy of the Estoppel Letter that will be provided to your attorney or closing agent who is handling the closing on your behalf. If the special assessment was approved by the board prior to your signing of the contract, the contract may specify that the Seller is responsible for paying.
Florida state law also requires individual units to carry their own Homeowners 6 insurance policy that covers the interior of the unit. The Association may have the powers to force place such insurance if the unit owner fails to provide evidence of same.
Careful consideration and research should be done prior to agreeing to purchase your future Fort Lauderdale condos.