Condo-purchase deal-breakers

Issues to look for before signing contract

Condos are a popular choice for first-time buyers as well as homeowners who want to downsize because they tend to be less expensive than single-family residences. Also, they usually require less maintenance. Condominium owners belong to a homeowners association (HOA) that collects dues, usually on a monthly basis, to pay the cost of common-area liability insurance and maintenance, as well as to fund a reserve account. HOA dues often pay for more -- sometimes exterior painting, garbage collection and roof repairs. Precisely what is covered by HOA dues varies from one condo complex to another. Before buying a condominium, make sure you read and understand all of the documentation, such as the covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs). The CC&Rs could include restrictions on your use of the property that would affect your decision to buy, like no large dogs or prohibitions against renting. You should also review the bylaws, the homeowners association budget, a ...