9 Questions to ask before buying a Minneapolis Condo

November 3, 2011

There are a lot of good deals on Minneapolis condos for sale right now but just because it looks like a good deal doesn’t always mean it is the best fit for you.  We have put together a list of 9 questions you should ask before considering moving to Minneapolis into a new condo.

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Questions to ask before buying a Minneapolis condo #1

How much are the monthly condo fees (HOA) and what are they used for and what benefits do they provide?
Obviously the first step in buying a new condo in Minneapolis is figuring out your budget.  You will want to ask yourself, what can I afford to pay.  It is not just the mortgage, taxes, and insurance you will be paying for a condo though.  Condos have association fees.  Association fees are fees paid for such maintenance like pool cleaning, snow removal, lawn care and even sometimes cable and other amenities as.   These fees also cover things that go wrong with the complex.  It is a good idea to find out what kinds of fees the particular association has so you can budget as well as what the fees will cover if there is something wrong with the complex.

Questions to ask before buying a Minneapolis condo #2

What rules does the condominium complex have and enforce?
Unlike a single family home where you can make as much noise as you like and you typically won’t be bothered, condos are different in that each building is separated by no more than a wall, so it makes sense to look into the rules of the condo building.  Inquire about the rules in terms of noise are as well as any pet rules and other limitations of your property.  For example, you might want to install a satellite dish or have a grill on your porch, not all condominium complexes will allow these.

Questions to ask before buying a Minneapolis condo #3

How much money is in the reserve fund?
We talked about condo association fees earlier.  As they are paid in, these fees typically go into a reserve fund.  Find out it the condo association has done a reserve-fund review in the last 3-5 years.  For condo associations that are newer, the association should have at least 10% of the cost to replace items suchs as roofs, pools, tennis couts etc.  Getting into a condo building that is not liquid in terms of cash to replace may not be a good idea.

Questions to ask before buying a Minneapolis condo #4

Are there any current management issues or future projects underway?
Ask to have a look at the minutes of the condo association board meetings.  Do this to figure out what the topics are and what the board is discussing.  The minutes might show that a condo complex is having management issues or it may reveal that they have something great planned for the future or even a project underway that you were not aware of.  It is a good idea to figure this out before jumping into a new Minneapolis condo.

Questions to ask before buying a Minneapolis condo #5

Is the condo association self-managed or managed in another way?
Some condo complexes are self-managed, self-managed condo complexes can be a good thing or a bad thing but it typically means that the condo owners of the complex work together to hire tradesmen to fix problems with the building.

While this may work seamlessly in a well-organized condo association this can sometimes lead to conflict.  It is known that sometimes people lean towards hiring family or friends to fix things in the condo complex because it is an inexpensive route but may not be the best route.

Questions to ask before buying a Minneapolis condo #6

How many owners vs renters live in the condos?
Depending on the size of the complex, typically if the renter population is over 10%, a rental policy exists and will stipulate the rules and regulations when it comes to renters.  Some condo buyers would prefer not to live in a complex that is overwhelmed by renters as owners tend to care for their units and the quality of life in the complex more.  If you are looking to rent out the condo you are buying this is also important.  Some condo complexes only allow a certain percentage of units to be rented out and there may be a long list you have to wait on before you can actually rent your unit out.  Don’t get caught off guard.

Questions to ask before buying a Minneapolis condo #7

What’s the condo fee delinquency rate?
Find out the condo fee delinquency rate, once you find out the delinquency rate of the present owners, you will be able to properly assess the contentment, or lack thereof, of the owners.  Living with good happy owners as neighbors can be a huge plus.

If the condo owners are not paying their association fees on time this could indicate that they are not happy with the association for some reason which may be a red flag.

Questions to ask before buying a Minneapolis condo #8

Has the homeowners association been involved in any lawsuits?
Some times condo owners end up in litigation with the developer if it is a new condo complex.  This could be over the building products used in construction or even with an individual condo owner.  Although lawsuits may not be a deal breaker, it is good to find out why there is a lawsuit and what for.  You wouldn’t want to move into a complex that wasn’t sealed properly and had mold in the walls or some other problem.  Always look into any past or current lawsuits.

Questions to ask before buying a Minneapolis condo #9

What does the Master Insurance Policy cover?
Before buying your new condo find out what is covered by the condo units master insurance policy, some might be very limited while others might surprise you.  This could benefit you down the road if something was to happen to your unit.  This may also affect your personal insurance rate in a positive manner.  Make sure you understand this insurance policy well and know what is covered.

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