Everyone wants a condo these days . . . or so it seems!  Demand is up and supply in Rockford is low resulting in rising prices for any available inventory.  In the next few weeks I will write a short piece on different condo developments here in the city or relatively close vicinity.

Over the years, myself, Terry Hartigh and the Associates at Rockford Realty have listed and/or sold nearly every association in the Rockford area.  Indeed, Terry and myself have owned in several local associations.  Currently we each own in Lake Bella Vista Shores . . . one of only two lakefront associations on Lake Bella Vista.  We both serve on the Board in this association and have helped facilitate sales in 8 of the 12 units . . . some units we have sold more than once!  With all of that expertise, we are the real estate experts and agents of preference for Lake Bella Vista Shores!  Watch this blog . . . I will have an article on that great lakefront association soon!

There is a lot to know, many details to attend to and some lifestyle changes when purchasing a condo and entering a communal living situation.  We can be your guide!

  • "What do I own?"  You own the inside of the exterior walls, and in.  That means the plumbing, the electrical, the drywall and everything within those boundaries. The exterior walls, roof and grounds are 'common areas' shared by all the condo owners.  That being said, repairs and maintenance of those areas are also shared by the condo owners.  Let's talk a bit more about that!
  • "Do I own the windows and doors?"  Most condo associations deem windows and doors to be the owner's responsibility for maintenance/upgrades/replacements.  Consult the Condo Docs and you should ask that question specifically when purchasing so that there are no future misunderstandings.  The association will want any replacements to match the other buildings in terms of kind, color and style, but all expenses will be the condo owner's.  The same may apply to decks.  Again, a great question to ask - 'who does and who is responsible for paying for windows, doors, decks maintenance and replacement?'
  • Condominium Documents - Of utmost importance is examining the condo association's documents - Master Deed, By-laws, Budget, and all financial documents.  Ensuring that the rules of the association are rules that fit your lifestyle AND ensuring that the association is financially sound is the Buyer's responsibility.  At Rockford Realty we will always write into a purchase agreement a reasonable amount of time for the Buyer to 'obtain, review and approve' all of those documents!
  • Condo Budget and Capital Reserves - In the financial documents, there is a line item called 'Capital Reserves'.  It is so important that an association's capital reserves are well funded so that if there are necessary emergency or planned /budgeted maintenance and repairs, there is an account with a balance that can pay for those items.  If not . . . you guessed it . . .you pay!  Typically there will be a special assessment placed on each unit  . . .and it is not a fun bill to get.  I have seen instances, and typically in owner managed associations where the monthly fees are kept low out of concern for co-owners budget rather than building capital reserves and then 'bingo' they are assessed for thousands of dollars in special assessments.  As your agent, we will help you identify whether the capital reserve funds seem adequate for the age, maintence level and budget for repairs.  We aim to eliminate surprises!
  • Financing Condos - Financing condos can be tough in today's world.  Condo financing will typically require a larger down payment than a single family home.  Some associations are FHA approved . . . some not.  Some are 'warrantable' for financing . . . some 'un-warrantable'.  Sound confusing?  It is highly complicated and we will help you navigate through the financing . . . its our job!
    • For some Buyers, with an existing home that they have substantial equity in, preparing for a condo purchase by putting a home equity line of credit or HELOC on their existing home is a great way to be pro-active!  That allows you to be a cash Buyer in a highly competative market.  Cash Buyers typically have an edge in negotiations and that fact alone can make you a winner in multiple offer situations.  We can advise you on how to get that ball rolling so that you are ready as soon as the right condo comes along!

I hope this short primer gives you some insight and answers some condo questions.  If you have more questions or would like to explore condo options . . . we would love to help!  Contact us at 616 874-8188 or myself personally at 616 889 9930 (call or text)  or luannebaar@gmail.com  You can also find some valuable information at our website www.RockfordCondo.info