There has, and will continue to be, a steady growth in Oakland condominiums.  Whether you want a stately condo alongside Lake Merritt, or a cozier historic building close to Jack London Square, you are sure to find a wealth of choices.  

While choosing a condo is very similar to choosing a home anywhere, there are some specific things that you should look for, and get answers about, before you move ahead.  While I will make sure that you have the details that you need, here are some things to review before selecting your new home:

1. A condominium, while it often looks like an apartment complex from the exterior, is very different from an apartment.  Unlike apartments, each living unit is owned outright by the resident.  In addition, these residents also own the common areas of the property .  Examples would include the garage, the grounds, the laundry room, the gym, the building utilities, etc..  These commonly owned items must be paid for and maintained.  This is done through the building's homeowner association, who direct these activities, and assess the individual unit owners directly.  There are HOA (Home Owner Association) rules and regulations regarding these repairs and assessments, as well as maintenance requirements for each unit in the building.  

2. Knowing this, before you decide on your purchase in a condo, make sure you read the HOA covenants, restrictions, and bylaws carefully to see that they fit your needs and expectations.  Find out whether they have reserve funds and association fees, and how much they are.  Can you afford that extra expense?  

3. Check the maintenance of the building.  Is it being kept up and in good order?  Do the grounds look acceptable?  Is the gym or pool clean and appealing?  This dramatically affects your resale value should you wish to move in the future.

4. A logical extension from this last question is determining is the average vacancy rate over the last few years. Is there a high turnover?  Why would that be?  Additionally, find out how many units are owned by investors.  Is that permitted?  If it is, it may be a problem because some lenders require a certain percentage of the building to be owner-occupied, and if that ratio is too low, may not be able to offer you the financing that you need.  

As you can see, there is a lot to know.  My experience with condominium sales will guide you along the right path to you new home.  Let me know your interests, and we can begin your search.  

Posted by Bruce Wagg on


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