Condo-purchase deal-breakers

Issues to look for before signing contract

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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.