How to Buy a Condo or Co Op Apartment

Buying a home often represents the biggest financial decision in people's lives. The process can be a daunting one, especially if it is your first time owning a home. Keeping yourself from being overwhelmed by the home buying process is largely a matter of preparing yourself by thoroughly understanding each step in the process. In an urban area, buying a home usually means getting a condo or a unit in a housing cooperative. To learn how to buy a condo or co-op apartment, prepare for each of the following steps.


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    Seek pre-approval from a lending institution. In order to establish your available price range, you'll need to be pre-approved for a mortgage. Your available mortgage size will depend on your income, your credit history, and other aspects of your financial life. Make sure that you also consider just how big of a monthly payment you can comfortably afford. It may be the case that your bank is willing to extend a mortgage to you that is larger than what you're comfortable with anyway.
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    Contact a real estate agent in your area. You can find a real estate agent through a friend's recommendation or by inquiring directly through a realty company's website. When inquiring, note that you are interested in condos and co-ops; also note your price range, desired location, and any other aspects you are looking for in a condo.
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    Visit some potential condo units with your real estate agent. During the visit, note the aspects of the condo you like and dislike. Consider aspects like the view, security and ease of access, the condition of the building, the level of soundproofing, the layout, and any amenities like a pool, courtyard, business center, or gym.
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    Narrow down your search to a few units. After visiting potential condos, begin ruling some out using the criteria that are important to you. Of critical importance when assessing condos and co-ops in particular is how the dues money is spent. You may decide that a certain condo has too high of a monthly dues payment - one that is being used to cover amenities you won't use anyway. Conversely, you may be worried that the dues amount is too low to be able to cover major repairs and upkeep to the building and its landscaping.
    • Another important question to ask about each condo building is the maximum allowed percentage of units used as rentals. Renters in condo buildings often don't care for the common areas as diligently, and so a high proportion of renters tends to lower the market value of all units in the building.
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    Prepare an offer on the condo or co-op you have chosen. After narrowing the search down to your preferred condo, prepare an offer to be given to the seller's agent. In a competitive market, this may mean offering the full listing price, but often you can make a lower offer and negotiate from there. Negotiate for any concessions that are important to you, such as keeping appliances or getting closing costs paid.
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    Arrange to have the condo inspected and appraised. If your offer is accepted, you will have to arrange to have a building inspector look at the property. You will be expected to pay the inspector's fee at the time of inspection. Your lending institution will often require you to get the unit appraised to make sure they are not loaning you more than the unit is worth. The inspection represents your last chance to pull out of the purchase agreement without losing money.
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    Close on the condo. The closing is a meeting usually arranged through an escrow company. The bank's money will be transferred to the seller and you will fill out some paperwork in order to get the deed in your name. You will usually be given the key at the closing and be able to move in immediately.


  • If you are purchasing a condo unit in a new building, you may be able to negotiate with the building complex selling agent for additional perks, such as free parking.
  • Remember that in a housing cooperative, residents do not own their individual units, but rather a share of the cooperative organization. The financing and dues structures are usually identical to condos, though.

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Categories: Buying Property