Buying a Condo in San Diego
For many people, buying a condo is often more feasible than buying a house because condos tend to have lower price points than detached residences. Aside from the obvious financial benefits, condos also give residents a sense of community, not to mention the added bonus of amenities and a well-maintained landscape. Condos usually require significantly less maintenance for individual owners because the responsibilities are shared with others in the building which makes living there stress-free.
Depending on your personal goals, some of the key factors to consider before buying a San Diego condo are the HOA fees, your neighbors in the community, the complex's growth potential, and the rental rates for the area. Even if you're planning on staying in the condo for the long term, having an idea about the current rental rates and growth trends for the neighborhood is critical because your condo is an investment in the future. Your realtor will be able to give you a sense about which direction the market is heading and what to expect when investing in a condo for the long term or short term.
Here are some of the key points to keep in mind for buying a condo in San Diego.
Start by hiring a buyer's agent
It's important to have representation on your side of the transaction, and an experienced buyer's agent will be able to advocate for your needs. Before you even reach the point of making a buying decision, your agent will find potential properties for you and will walk you through every step of buying a condo.
Without a buyer's agent, your needs are weighed against those of the seller, and it's not always going to be in your best interest. Your buyer's agent will do the hard work for you to find a place and then will continue to be on your side through negotiation and post-sale for any follow-up questions you may have.
Figure out your buying goals
Before making the decision to purchase a condo, you should consider why you are buying and what your goals are. What are your short-term and long-term goals, and how does condo ownership fit in? Is your family growing? Do you have pets or plan to in the future? What is the rentability of the condominium? These are some of the questions your realtor might ask to help you determine your condo needs.
Certain condominiums have restrictions on what its residents can and can't do, for instance:
- Pets – It's common for condos to have restrictions on the number of pets allowed as well as the size/weight and there can be limitations on certain breeds.
- Patio accessories – Condo buildings can have their own restrictions for what you can use on the patio, for example, grills might not be allowed in some places.
- Flooring – Depending on the type of building and its size, certain places might require residents to have carpet for noise reduction purposes.
You should have a clear understanding of all the building's restrictions before investing in a condo. Also, make it a point to check if there are any long-term plans for the complex or the neighborhood. Are there any public plans for new transit or developments in the community? Work with your realtor to think through these questions and establish your buying goals.
Review the HOA documents
This is a crucial step in the condo buying process. As a buyer, you should receive a resale certificate when making an offer on a condominium unit. This is a set of documents that contain details about the Homeowners Association (HOA), the financial report, and Conditions, Covenants & Restrictions (CC&Rs) for the condominium.
When you comb through these documents, it should paint a clear picture of the structural and financial health of the complex as well as the health of the HOA itself. As you review these HOA documents, some indications that the condo complex is running efficiently include timely maintenance, effective budgeting, an active HOA community, and organized documentation.
Before making your buying decision, you should understand how the HOA is actually run — is it community-managed by the residents? Or is it managed by a professional management company? You will pay higher rates for the professionals, but depending on the size of the complex, it might be preferable and make up for the cost in reducing the price of repairs. You're going to want to talk through your specific situation and its pros and cons with your realtor.
Prepare for an inspection
You'll never regret the time and money spent on an inspection. It's the smartest decision you can make in the condo-buying process. If they find a problem, then that's great and important to know about. If they don't find any problems, that's also helpful to know because it will give you peace of mind knowing everything is in good shape. Professional home inspectors are trained extensively in what to look for and will be able to call out potential issues that are easily overlooked by the average person. Work with your realtor to find the right qualified inspector for San Diego condos.
If you have your heart set on buying a condo, there are lots of great condominiums in San Diego, so you have plenty of options to choose from. By taking these points into consideration, you'll be going into the condo-buying-process with a head start and can focus your efforts on learning more about the neighborhoods and imagining yourself in your new home. Get started today by finding the right buyer's agent.