Considering a condominium?
Being a product of the 1960s I heard a lot about communes and communal living during those years. Since at that time, my tastes have run more towards designer clothes and trendy restaurants, and living in a commune was never going to happen. But now that I’ve reached what you might call maturity, I find myself living in a condominium, kind of a commune with benefits.
Condos offer many of the same amenities as home ownership, except the development is managed by an association into which owners are required to pay association fees. Although individual owners are provided with an actual deed similar to a single family home, they share ownership of common areas, which are maintained by the management and funded with owners’ association fees.
Condominium owners are required to maintain the interior of their units, usually from the interior walls in or as stated in their condominium documents. They are not permitted to make any changes to the exterior of the building or any of the common grounds without permission from the condominium’s board of directors.
Condominium living has become a very popular style of living in Florida, partly because of the large senior population and also because of the popularity of Florida for second homeowners and investors. As we all know, the real estate bubble has hit Florida condos very hard. All over the state, there are associations with large numbers of pre foreclosures and foreclosures fueled primarily by investors.
Because of this, condominium associations are feeling the pinch of uncollected condo association fees and passing the shortfall onto the other residents. In Florida, associations can foreclose on a homeowner for not paying his/her association's fees and many do. However, since most of the time these homeowners are also not paying their mortgage, there’s a good chance that the bank will also be looking to foreclose the property.
Just like all distressed properties on the market in Florida, there are a lot of great deals out there for condominiums as either short sales or foreclosures. Part of the challenge of purchasing a condo in Florida will be obtaining financing. Although mortgage money is available, obtaining financing for condos in associations that have a significant number of pre foreclosures and foreclosure properties or owners who are just not paying their association fees will be more difficult.
If you are considering the purchase of a condominium, especially in this market, it is essential to review the association’s condominium documents, rules and regulations, financials and any pending litigation. However, these documents will not and should not be provided to a potential buyer until such time as there is a formal agreed upon and signed contract of sale. Florida statute states that a three day provision be provided for in the contract, during which time the buyer can review all of the above documents and rescind the contract should he/she feels the association, for whatever reason, is not a good investment.
It’s unlikely the hippie culture of the 1960s would view Florida condominium living as communal, but there are plenty of people who see the parallels. I, for one, love the concept, and based on the thousands and thousands of condominiums in Florida, I’m not alone. Having someone else mow the lawn, clean the pool and fix the roof, that’s a commune I can live in.