exterior of a condominium building

There are many special considerations when buying a condo. Since condos make up a large part of the real estate menu in Chicagoland, it’s wise to understand what makes them different from single family homes. One key difference is the existence of condo associations and association boards.

Understanding the condo association

Typically, condos are governed by a condo association. This association is comprised of each owner in the building, and requires that members stay up to date with monthly association fees. This association of owners is often led by an elected board. The board maintains the property through executive decisions, and the decisions they make tend to have great influence on life in a given complex.

The covenants and/or “rules and regs” of a building are established and enforced by the board. Answers to questions about the rules and regs shed light on the quality of life in a building.

Questions to ask before buying a condo

Before moving forward on the purchase of a condo, and with the knowledge that condo associations govern some aspects of life in a building, ask the seller these questions to learn crucial information about that condo you love:

Can I see a sample association budget?

The association budget will illuminate how association fees are allocated in respect to maintenance, improvements, and repairs.

Is the board considering any special expenses, or have any been approved lately?

If the answer is yes, a significant change or repair to the property is possible. An increase of the association fee is in the cards too!

What are the move-in procedures?

Getting a clear picture of the move-in procedures will ensure a smooth process when the day comes, and will keep you from violating any rules.

What are the amenities?

Buildings can have a wide array of special amenities. Is there a door-person? A pool? Fitness room? Shared grill or patio? Place to let your dog off the leash? Asking about amenities will give you a better picture of life in the building, and of how association fee dollars are being spent.

What are the association bylaws?

Can you own a pet? Is it possible to rent your condo out or Airbnb it?

What is the history of the building?

Is the building a new construction, or a conversion of a vintage building? Different types of buildings have different pros, cons, and quirks. Old buildings may have old and out of date plumbing or electrical. On the other hand, new buildings may use cheaper materials. Do your research, and get as much info as you can before moving forward!