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What Is a Condo? Condo vs. Apartment vs. House, Explained

September 30, 2020

what is a condo

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Table of contents: 

  • What is a condo?
  • How condos work
  • How much are condo fees?
  • What is an assessment?
  • Condo vs. apartment: What’s the difference?
  • Condo vs. house: What’s the difference?
  • How to buy a condo
  • Questions to ask a condo board

 

What is a condo?

What is a condo? Short for “condominium,” a condo is a private residence within a larger building or complex.

The first condo in the United States was built in Salt Lake City in 1960, according to Matthew Gordon Lasner, author of “High Life: Condo Living in the Suburban Century.” Since then, this residence style has truly taken off. Currently, there are approximately 17 million privately owned condominiums in the U.S.

Condos might look like a lot of other types of real estate you may have heard of—like apartments, co-ops, or townhouses—but condos have their own distinct features, rules, pros, and cons. Here’s what condos are all about, and how they’re different from other structures in which you can live.

How condos work

Since a condo is part of a larger residential structure (although “detached condominiums” also exist), condo residents typically share certain common areas and amenities with their neighbors.

So what does this mean for a condo owner? It means you and your neighbors might park in a common parking lot or garage. You might use the same rec room or roof deck, or bump into one another at the condo complex’s swimming pool or gym.

Furthermore, these shared areas and amenities are enjoyed by all condo members without the need to maintain them on their own. Instead, condo owners pay dues to a board (typically made up of elected condominium owners) who then handle the hiring of landscapers, pool cleaners, and other professionals for anything that must be maintained or fixed, from faulty elevators to gopher infestations in common areas.

How much are condo fees, and what do they cover?

Average condo fees range from around $100 to $700 per month, although these fees can go much higher based on what amenities they cover. If the condo complex has high-end shared features such as a swimming pool, gym, and spa, condo fees can be several thousand per month.

what is a condo
Some condo complexes come with swimming pools.

typhoonski / Getty Images

Generally, condo fees pay for the maintenance of any amenities outside your personal living space that you share with your neighbors.

“Condo fees are your percentage share of the costs to run the building as a whole,” explains Janice Pynn, president of Simerra Property Management.

And in case you think your condo fees are too high, know this: No one pockets a cent of your checks or is getting rich off condo dues.

“They are not a profit source for building management; in fact, each building is registered as a nonprofit corporation,” Pynn points out. In other words, these fees go solely toward enhancing the value of your real estate, which is a good thing!

Here are the services and amenities you can expect your condo fees to cover:

  • Interior maintenance: Condo owners share the cost of maintaining common building areas like parking structures, storage rooms, laundry rooms, game rooms, fitness centers, saunas, and hallways, as well as mechanical systems like heating, cooling, electric, gas, plumbing, and elevator maintenance. If a crew comes regularly to clean the common spaces, its fees are also included.
  • Exterior maintenance: Condo owners also share the cost of exterior common areas like fences, walls, gates, pools, landscaping, and window cleaning, and seasonal expenses like snow removal, winterizing, and cleaning out rain gutters. If a gardening crew comes regularly to take care of the landscaping, its fees are also included.
  • Security: This could range from cameras at the entrance to full-time guards patrolling the grounds. If visitors have to be buzzed in to the building, this system will be covered by your condo fees.
  • Utilities: Most developments’ condo fees cover utilities such as water, sewer, and trash. Some buildings even include heat, electricity, cable, and Wi-Fi. Remember that the more utilities covered, the higher your condo fees will probably be.
  • Insurance: Most condo fees include a homeowners insurance policy that covers exteriors and shared common areas. Depending on where the condos are located, the insurance policies might also cover flood and/or earthquake damage. The nice thing here is that condo owners need only to purchase insurance policies that cover the interior of their home and their possessions.
  • Reserve fund: There are expenses that don’t come up on a monthly, or even an annual, basis that will need attending to, so a well-managed condo board will charge owners a certain amount per month that will go into a reserve fund. It would cover things like paving, reroofing, replacing water heaters, exterior painting, hallway and lobby flooring and redesign, and more.

What is an assessment?

In addition to your monthly condo fees, special assessments might arise. Every once in a while something big (e.g., a roof or an elevator) gives out, and there aren’t enough reserve funds to cover it. In that case, the condo owners will have to pay an extra fee for these additional expenses, typically tacked on to the usual monthly condo fees in small amounts until the assessment is paid off.

At times like these, it’s best to remember that, as with any type of homeownership, unforeseen expenses arise, and making the necessary repairs is in your best interest. In other words, you get out what you put in.

In addition to collecting dues, a condo board also enforces rules and regulations that owners agree to abide by when they purchase their condominium. The board can regulate everything from the size and number of pets you’re allowed to the ages of the people living in your unit. Retirement condo communities, for example, can legally require that all long-term residents be over the age of 55.

So if you’re looking into buying a condo, make sure to study up on the condominium association rules (called covenants, conditions, and restrictions, or CC&Rs) and fees.

Condo vs. apartment: What’s the difference?

While condominiums and apartments might look exactly the same—a residence in a larger building—the key difference has to do with who owns the property. Condos are homes you can buy, own, and sell when you wish. Apartments are places you can rent, but do not own.

Another key difference between a condo and apartment has to do with property’s maintenance and repairs. With a rental, the apartment’s owner—often called a landlord—is typically responsible for any maintenance and repairs inside the unit as well as out. So for instance, if a renter’s faucet drips or they’ve got pest problems like mice or roaches, all they need to do is call the landlord to come fix the problem.

Condo owners, in contrast, are responsible for any repairs or maintenance inside their unit.

Condo vs. apartment: Which is better for you?

Whether you should buy a condo or rent an apartment can be a tough decision, since each scenario comes with distinct pros and cons. For instance, renting an apartment is great if you’re not sure how long you’ll stay in the area, or don’t want the hassles of maintaining your residence.

Buying a condo, however, makes more sense if you plan to stay in an area for at least a few years, and are willing to maintain your property (by paying repair professionals or by doing the work yourself).

Here are some other factors to consider.

  • Cost: Condos are meant to be purchased. Even if you get a mortgage, condos will typically require a down payment (typically anywhere from 3.5% to 20% of the price of the property). If you lack a chunk of money to offer upfront, then you’ll probably have to rent, which typically requires lower upfront costs (like first and last month’s rent and one month’s security deposit). That said, depending on the inventory available in a particular area, the monthly costs of renting vs. owning could be similar. As such, it’s worth comparing these two options with an online rent vs. buy calculator.
  • Home equity: Probably the main advantage for being a condo owner over a renter is that condo owners gain equity in their real estate over time. As they slowly pay off their mortgage and owe less on their property, they own bit more of their condo free and clear, month by month. Once the mortgage is fully paid off (which can take up to 30 years), they own the property in full. This is in stark contrast to renting, where you pay your landlord rent every month but do not gain equity.
  • Freedom: Condo owners are able to make changes to the property from painting the walls to renovating the kitchen. Meanwhile, renters are not allowed to make any permanent changes without their landlord’s permission.
  • Housing quality: Since homeowners tend to care more about their property than renters, condos tend to be better built and maintained than rentals.

Condo vs. house: What’s the difference?

But what if your real estate debate is whether to buy a condo vs. house? Take a look at the differences between these two popular residential options, and the benefits each can provide to you and your family.

  • Price: Condos are usually more affordable than a house, and are thus great starter homes for younger home buyers. To figure out how much you can realistically spend, try using an online home affordability calculator.
  • Location: If you want to be in the heart of the city, condos will be more prevalent. Single-family homes at around the same price could be found, but likely farther out from metro centers, which might entail a longer commute.
  • Privacy: Having complete privacy is possible in a single-family house, while condo living means neighbors will be quite close. Condos may not offer private outdoor space.
  • Freedom: Many condo communities have strict rules about everything from paint choices to the hours when you can take out your trash cans. As a result, a condo complex isn’t a great idea for fiercely independent homeowners who don’t want anyone telling them what they can and can’t do with their property. Single-family home communities tend to be more lenient.
  • Maintenance: With a house, the homeowner will have to take care of any maintenance, whereas condos include maintenance fees that cover landscaping and (sometimes) exterior maintenance on the unit. As such, condominiums are often ideal for people who want to own a piece of real estate but don’t want to worry about yardwork and repairs.
  • Budget: How much do you want to spend on the property? Condos are usually more affordable than a house. Give this point considerable thought. The last thing you want is to overextend financially. Try using an online home affordability calculator to help pinpoint a budget.

How to buy a condo

what is a condo
Condos are often more affordable than houses, which attracts first-time home buyers.

ablokhin / Getty Images

We totally get why people buy condos: They’re cheaper and require less maintenance than a traditional house (no mowing the lawn). Plus, they’re often stacked with cool common amenities from pools to gyms. What’s not to love? Yet while condo living might seem carefree, buying one is not necessarily a simple task.

Here’s how to buy a condo, how it’s different from buying a house, and a few insider tips to pave the way to ownership.

Consider your unit’s surroundings

While the condo unit itself is a key consideration, it’s also important to carefully check out the environment around it—particularly when it comes to noise. Remember, you’ll be sharing walls with your neighbors, and perhaps even ceilings and floors.

“I always suggest my buyers book a showing during typically ‘louder’ times of the day, such as dinnertime when kids are home, to see how well the walls actually dampen the noise,” says David Nelson with the Imperial Home Team in Minneapolis. He also recommends asking a few of the neighbors about general property noise, such as how loud the traffic and surrounding neighborhood are, and if they can hear their neighbors through the walls.

The unit you choose can play a large role as well.

“End units share fewer walls than those in the middle, which can lessen neighbor noise,” says Nelson. Of course, that’s also one of the reasons why end and top-floor units are more coveted—and often pricier—but if you’re sensitive to noise, that could be money well spent.

Check out the condo board and association

When you buy a condo, you’re buying into the entire community—including its rules on everything from when and where it’s OK to let your dogs off the leash to whether RVs are allowed in your driveway. Most states will have a designated rescission period to peruse relevant documents. During this period, you’ll want to carefully read through the community’s covenants, conditions, and restrictions, or CC&Rs, as well as penalties for not following them.

“When a buyer agrees to the association documents, he or she is automatically bound to the condo board’s rules,” says Nelson. These typically entail parking space allowances, regulations related to pets, and homeowner responsibilities for repairs and maintenance.

“If there is something in the association bylaws that you as a buyer don’t agree with, and it is still within the rescission period, you can back out of the home purchase and usually get a full refund of any earnest money,” says Nelson.

Prospective condo buyers should also do their due diligence on the condo association’s finances, because this will affect your odds of getting a loan (more on that next).

Secure condo financing

In some cases, it can be trickier to secure a mortgage for a condo than a traditional home because the health of the condo development hinges on multiple owners paying their bills. Your mortgage lender is apt to conduct a thorough review of the condo complex as a whole, including documents relating to the overall health of the building and the condo association. The good news is that you can consider this an extra layer of due diligence to protect your own investment.

Prep for your condo interview

Sure, you’re checking them out, but they’re checking you out, too. Once your offer is accepted, many condo associations require prospective buyers to interview with the condo board. Don’t worry: These interviews must comply with all regulations against unlawful discrimination—the goal is to ensure that you can afford the home and fully understand condo rules. This is also your chance to ask questions about any of those rules, and also get a feel for some of the people you’ll be living with—so consider it less of a firing squad and more like a first date.

Questions to ask a condo board

“One of the biggest considerations when purchasing a condo is who manages it,” says Nelson. That’s why, before you sign on the dotted line, you should arm yourself with these questions for the condo board to make sure it’s the right fit for you.

  • What are the fees? Most condos have a monthly fee that can range from $200 to $400 (an upscale development with tons of amenities will cost more). Ask the board exactly what that fee covers—after all, you’ll be shelling out month after month, and year after year. What’s usually included is anything outside your condo, from cleaning public areas to removing snow to maintaining the community pool. Owners themselves generally pay for whatever is inside the walls of their condo, like painting and appliances. Make sure what you’re getting is on par with what you’re paying for, says Nelson. And always ask if the board sees the fee rising anytime in the near future, and how much it’s risen in the past.
  • Can I see the financial statements? A condo’s financials should be an open book (or, more accurately, a spreadsheet). And don’t worry if you’re not an accountant. You should quickly be able to determine if a condo’s income and expenses match up—a red flag would be more money going out than coming in. Also eye the condo’s reserve funds to see if it’s healthy enough to cover any unforeseen expenditures. If not—and the pool pump breaks—that could result in more money coming out of your pocket to fix the problem via an assessment (see our next point).
  • Are there any upcoming assessments? Assessments are periodic, one-time payments made to the association above and beyond the monthly fee, usually to cover capital improvements or repairs. So if the association plans to replace all the windows in the common areas or add a gym, you could end up blindsided by a huge extra bill—unless, of course, you ask ahead of time.
  • What are the rules? Each association has its own unique bylaws and regulations, which all buyers should review before their purchase, as they have to live by them afterward. So make sure you read every single one. Many of the rules are mundane, dictating where residents or guests can park. But some condos have rules that can range from no holiday decorations on your front door to limits on hours for barbecuing. Another biggie in condo rules is whether a homeowner is allowed to rent out their home, and for how long. While you may not want to rent it out, the ability to do so—or not—could affect your resale value. Did we mention that you should read the rules? Read the rules.
  • Are there any pending lawsuits? Lawsuits are a potentially huge financial drain on any condo board that loses in court. And even if there are no pending suits, a quick check of a condo’s liability insurance to make sure it’s up to snuff can’t hurt.
  • Who is the caretaker? Properties generally have a manager on-site to oversee day-to-day tasks. An employee who has been with a condo for a long time is generally a good sign your calls will be answered in case a maintenance issue pops up.

The post What Is a Condo? Condo vs. Apartment vs. House, Explained appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

7 Common HOA Rule Violations—and How to Avoid Getting Fined

September 9, 2019

common HOA violations

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Living in a community managed by a homeowners association (HOA) means that you’re obligated to follow certain rules and regulations. Depending upon your HOA, these rules can be very particular—so particular that you may not even know you’re doing something wrong! And if you disobey your community’s covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs), you could get fined.

“Fines are a tool to gain compliance, and it is not uncommon for them to be reduced or waived once compliance is achieved,” says Dawn Bauman, senior vice president, government and public affairs, for the Community Associations Institute in Falls Church, VA. She says some rule violations could yield one-time fines of anywhere from $25 to $100, or daily fines of around $10 per day.

The best way to avoid fines is to stay in the loop with your community. Familiarize yourself with the CC&Rs, read community documents, attend community board meetings, pay attention to community updates, and ask questions when you think you might be in violation.

Curious which requirements tend to trip up homeowners the most? Here are some of the most common HOA rule violations.

1. House design changes

Making any changes to the appearance or structure of your home—such as adding a new mailbox or paint job—requires getting permission from your HOA.

David Berman, an attorney for Barry Miller Law, a business and real estate law firm in Orlando, FL, says the most common violations he hears about involve compliance with architectural design standards and covenants. This includes changes made to the exterior of a home without the association’s approval. Why? A good portion of the rules in most HOA CC&Rs have to do with the appearance of your home.

2. Smoking near neighbors

Other common violations are those that inconvenience other residents at the association, says David Swedelson, a community association attorney and a founding partner of SwedelsonGottlieb in Los Angeles.

“This would include smoking that creates a nuisance, whether it be cigarettes, cigars, or marijuana,” Swedelson says.

Owners may have authorization to use marijuana for medical purposes, but that does not necessarily include the right to smoke in their unit if the smoke affects their neighbors.

3. Pets

HOAs may impose limits on pets in the community, including the number of pets you own; the specific breeds allowed; where pets can be walked; and whether or not they must be kept on a leash.

“We are seeing a lot of owners claim that their dog is a service animal, so they can get around a weight restriction or other rules in the CC&Rs,” says Swedelson.

If you’re a pet owner interested in buying in an HOA community, be sure to ask about the rules on pets. And if you already live in an HOA community and are considering adopting, make sure you’re familiar with the rules on pets before bringing a new four-legged friend home with you.

4. Illegal rentals

Thinking of renting out your home on Airbnb? Many HOAs require written permission to allow rental of your home, since renters may not be aware of the association rules. Given the popularity of short-term rentals, Swedelson says his firm is increasingly seeing violations surrounding this issue.

Making a little cash on the side is great, but be sure you’re in compliance with your community’s rules before renting out your place.

5. Landscaping, decorations, and other exterior upkeep

Overgrown weeds and lawns are a big no-no in an HOA community. Thinking about adding tall sunflowers to your garden? How about chopping down that huge tree on your front lawn? These are also situations in which you’d need to check with the HOA. Some boards even limit the types of trees and plants that are acceptable and where they can be located on your property.

Most HOAs also prohibit clutter outside your home. This includes outside storage. An HOA may take issue with things like bicycles or kayaks being stored outside in plain sight.

And during the holidays, HOA rules may limit how long before and after a holiday you can decorate the home’s exterior, including the size and type of decoration.

6. Motor vehicles

Many HOAs have rules on the number and types of vehicles (and boats, RVs, etc.) that can be parked in your driveway or on the street.

Having guests over for a dinner party? You may have to clear guest car parking with the HOA first. The same goes for out-of-town guests who are bringing a car; your HOA may require you to tell them how many days your guests plan on staying.

7. Garbage

Most HOAs are strict about putting trash cans out too early or not bringing them in on time. Be careful about bulky items you throw out, such as furniture items or boxes that haven’t been broken down—your board might have a problem with them being left on the curb.

The post 7 Common HOA Rule Violations—and How to Avoid Getting Fined appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

What Is a Homeowners Association? HOAs—Explained

June 18, 2019

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What is a homeowners association? If you’re buying a condo, townhouse, or free-standing home in a neighborhood with shared common areas and amenities—such as swimming pools, tennis courts, parking garages, or even just the security gates and sidewalks in front of each residence—odds are high these areas are maintained by a homeowners association, or HOA.

What is a homeowners association, and how will it affect your life?

Homeowners associations help ensure that your community looks its best and functions smoothly, says David Reiss, research director at the Center for Urban Business Entrepreneurship at Brooklyn Law School.

For instance, if the pump in the community swimming pool stops working, someone has to take care of it before the water turns green and toxic, right? Rather than expect any one homeowner in the neighborhood to volunteer his time and money to fix the problem, homeowners associations are responsible for getting the job done. Think of it as similar to real estate property taxes that a homeowner pays for city and state services, except these fees go to pay for amenities and maintenance in your own planned community or condo building.

The number of Americans living in a home with an association is on the rise, growing from a mere 1% in 1970 to 25% today, according to the Foundation for Community Association Research. So, it’s wise to know exactly how such an association of homeowners works.

How much are HOA fees?

To cover these property maintenance expenses, homeowners associations collect fees or dues (monthly or yearly) from all community members. For a typical single-family home, HOA fees will cost homeowners around $200 to $300 per month, although they can be lower or much higher depending on the size of your house or condominium and the services provided. The larger the homeowner area, the higher the HOA fee—which makes sense, because the family of four homeowners in a three-bedroom condominium is probably going to be using the common facilities more than a single resident living in a studio condo.

Many HOAs pay property managers to oversee maintenance and deal with other real estate property issues.

In addition, most homeowners associations charge their members a little more in dues than monthly expenses require, so that they can build up a reserve to pay for property emergencies, amenities, and big-ticket items like repairing the roof and water heaters, or acquiring new carpeting, paint, and lights for the hallways.

If the association doesn’t have enough fees in reserve to cover necessary expenses, it can issue a special “assessment,” or an extra fee, in addition to your monthly dues, so that the repairs can be made.

For example, if the elevator in your condo building goes out and it’s going to cost $15,000 to replace it—but the HOA reserve account holds only $12,000—you and the rest of the residents are going to have to pony up at least an additional $3,000 in dues, divided among you, to make up the difference.

And yes, you as a resident still have to contribute your share of dues, even if your property is on the first floor.

HOA rules: What to expect

All HOAs have boards made up of homeowners in the complex who are typically elected by all homeowners. These board members will set up regular meetings where owners can gather and discuss major decisions and issues with their community. For major expenditures, all members of the HOA usually vote, not just members of the board.

In addition to management of the common areas, homeowners associations are also responsible for seeing that its community members follow certain rules and restrictions. Homeowners receive a copy of these rules from the HOA board, known as covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs), when they move in, and they’re required to sign a contract saying that they’ll abide by them.

CC&Rs can cover everything from your type of mailbox to the size and breed of your dog. Some HOAs require you to purchase extra homeowners insurance if you own a pit bull, for example. Others have covenants and restrictions prohibiting certain breeds entirely. Many associations even have rules about what color you paint your house, what kind of curtains you can hang if your unit faces the street, and how long your lawn can grow. Its goal is not to meddle—it’s merely to maintain a neighborhood aesthetic. However, if you don’t like being told what to do with your home, living under the bylaws and rules of an association may not be for you.

What happens if you violate HOA rules?

That varies from place to place, but if you break the rules—or fall behind in paying your HOA dues—the consequences can be severe. The management could evict you from your property, or worse. Some HOAs have the right to foreclose on your property if you don’t pay your monthly fees or don’t follow the rules, says Bob Tankel, a Florida attorney specializing in HOA law.

So make sure you read your CC&Rs carefully so you know what to expect, and know the pros and cons of living in an HOA community before you buy real estate with a homeowners association.

The post What Is a Homeowners Association? HOAs—Explained appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

What Is a Condo? No, It’s Not Just a Fancy Apartment

June 15, 2019

what is a condo

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What is a condo? If you ask most people to explain, they’ll tell you, “It’s like an apartment or townhouse, but you own it.” Or, “It’s like a home, but without a yard.” Both of these descriptions are mostly true, but there’s a lot more to the condominium meaning and the condos versus apartments debate, especially if you’re trying to decide where you should live.

What is a condo?

A condo, which is short for “condominium,” is a private residence owned by an individual homeowner or family in a building or community with multiple units or townhouses. Although they are usually part of a larger high-rise building, “detached condominiums” also exist.

What all condos have in common is that they share common areas—such as yards, garages, tennis courts, swimming pools, rec rooms, or gyms—with other units that the condominium owners don’t have to maintain themselves, making home upkeep that much easier.

For this convenience, owners pay dues to a board—typically made up of elected condominium owners—who handle the hiring of landscapers, pool cleaners, and other professionals for anything that must be fixed, from faulty elevators to gopher infestations in the common areas. This is much the way a homeowners association, or HOA, functions. (Leaky pipes and plumbing and/or roof repairs fall into more of a gray area, but generally if it’s outside the walls of your unit, it’s the board’s responsibility to fix.)

Matthew Gordon Lasner, author of “High Life: Condo Living in the Suburban Century,” adds this twist to the meaning: The first condo in the United States was built in Salt Lake City in 1960—and since then, this residence style has truly taken off. Currently, there are approximately 17 million privately owned condominiums in the U.S., which may have you wondering: Should you be a condo owner, too?

Should you consider condo ownership? Here’s how to decide

You can see why condominiums would be ideal for people who want to own a piece of real estate but don’t want to worry about yardwork and maintenance. The condos versus apartments conundrum is often an easy choice for retirees, young adults without kids, or anyone who would like to own property in more densely populated areas where detached, single-family homes just cost way too much. You might also be looking for a coveted amenity or the services of an HOA or property management company. There’s also more of a community to be found in a condo association compared with an apartment building.

And the advantage of buying a condominium over renting an apartment or townhouse? One, condos tend to be better built and maintained than rentals and they likely have an attractive amenity package. Plus, condo owners or unit owners will gain equity in their real estate over time—so why not invest your money in a home rather than throw it away on rent?

“Mortgage interest rates in today’s market are extremely low. Most individuals seeking a $2,500-a-month apartment or townhouse could easily afford a mortgage of $500,000. Monthly payments would be similar if not the same,” points out Jessica Peters, a Realtor® with the Peters-O’Brien Team at Douglas Elliman. “Depending on the area and whether or not the buyer is savvy, the unit would appreciate during the length of residency. Whereas in a rental, there is no opportunity for a return on investment.”

Condominiums vs. apartments: The deciding factor

On the other hand, a condo complex isn’t a great idea for fiercely independent homeowners or tenants who like their own privacy and space, and don’t want anyone telling them what they can and can’t do with their real estate. That’s because in addition to collecting dues, a condo board or HOA also enforces rules and regulations that owners agree to abide by when they purchase their condominium. The board can regulate everything from the size and number of pets you’re allowed to the number, the color of your townhouse exterior, and the ages of the people living in your unit. Retirement condo communities, for example, can legally require that all long-term residents be over the age of 55.

So if you’re looking into buying a condo, make sure to study up on the condominium association rules (called covenants, conditions, and restrictions, or CC&Rs) and extra costs such as HOA fees or association fees. Also, be sure to check out each amenity before you contact a real estate agent or commit to a purchase.

The post What Is a Condo? No, It’s Not Just a Fancy Apartment appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.