You’re on the search for condos in Washington, DC. This is a big investment, so you want to make sure that you get it right. But how do you go about doing this?
By asking questions!
Without further ado, here are 7 questions to ask when buying a condo in Washington DC.
1. What Are the HOA Fees?
The first thing you’ll want to ask is how much the HOA (Homeowner’s Association) fees are. These fees are typical for condos, as they’re used to manage the complex’s common areas. Regardless of the condo you choose, you should expect to pay them.
They can range from $200 a month to $750 a month and sometimes even more (depending on amenities and square footage).
Make sure you know exactly what you’ll have to pay. This is a monthly fee that goes on forever. It will never cease and will always have to be counted as part of your monthly housing expenses.
Also, note that HOA fees can fluctuate over the years. So, while they may cost $200 a month now, they could be $250 a month within a few years. And as far as that goes, you’re at the mercy of the HOA.
2. What Is Covered by the HOA Fees?
Not only do you want to ask about the cost of the HOA fees, but you also want to ask what those HOA fees cover. Different HOAs provide different amenities for their homeowners.
For instance, whereas one HOA will provide pool access, gym access, snow removal, and landscaping, another might only provide pool and gym access. In other words, you might have to shovel your driveway and mow your grass on your own.
The coverage of your HOA fees could make or break whether you decide to buy the condo. So, ask for a full run-down of what’s included and use that to make an informed decision.
3. What Is the Current Standing of the HOA?
In addition to asking about HOA fees, you’ll also want to ask about the HOA’s standing. The HOA’s legal and financial standing could affect how much your fees are in the future. The current standing could also help you determine whether it’s a suitable HOA for you.
Ask about lawsuits. Is the HOA embroiled in any of them currently? If so, make sure to get the specifics.
Lawsuits against the HOA could affect you financially. Not to mention, they could help you identify a sore spot of the HOA, one that turns you off to the condo entirely.
Ask about debt as well. Does the HOA have any? If so, and if it’s substantial, you could be responsible for helping to pay it back in the future.
4. What Rules Does the HOA Enforce?
HOAs can offer some benefits. However, they can come with some downsides as well, the most prominent of these downsides being the rules that they enforce.
HOAs set rules for a variety of situations. They have parking rules, decoration rules, pet rules, visitor rules, rental rules, Airbnb rules, and much, much more. If you don’t get the specifics on these rules prior to purchasing, you could end up making a purchase that you regret.
Also, note that some HOAs are more strict about the enforcement of their rules. If you can, speak with the residents of the HOA to see whether they have any issues. There could be systemic problems that are not obvious on the surface.
5. How Many Units Are for Sale?
Another thing you’re going to want to know is how many units are for sale in the complex. If there is a large number of units up for sale at one time, it could be an indication that there’s something wrong with the condos or the condo association that manages them.
The big exception here, of course, is if the complex is new. If you’re one of the first people to live in this location, the vast majority of the units should still be for sale.
There’s no reason to worry if, say, 20% of the units are for sale. But if almost half of the units are for sale, there’s a major cause for concern.
6. What’s the Neighborhood Like?
When you buy a condo, you’re essentially buying into the area around it, as well. This means that you’re also buying into the neighbors. As such, you need to ask yourself (and perhaps some of those living in the area as well) what the neighborhood is like.
Can the neighborhood get loud at times? Are there a lot of kids around? Is the area safe in general?
It might be a good idea to case the area on foot for a few hours. If you have the opportunity, speak with some of the current residents. In essence, do your due diligence.
You don’t want to invest money in an area that you don’t particularly like. And the only way you can determine whether you like it or not is by doing the footwork.
7. What’s the Future Resale Value?
If you’re buying a condo, there’s a decent chance that you’re eventually going to want to sell it in the future. If so, you’re going to want to consider its future resale value.
Now, it’s not possible to know exactly what a condo will sell for in the future. However, there are indications that can help you determine whether it will appreciate or depreciate.
First, make sure that the HOA fees aren’t exceedingly high. If they are, you might have trouble finding suitable buyers down the road. Our unique CondoScore will help you know if the fees are high for the value being offered by the HOA.
Secondly, make sure that the majority of the residents are buyers and not renters. Too many renters in a condo association can make it harder for future buyers to get financing, reducing your potential resale value.
Thirdly, make sure that there aren’t a substantial number of unsold units. If half of the units are vacant, it’s not a desirable location and may not yield a high return in the future.
Learn More About Condos in Washington, DC
And there they are, 7 questions to ask when searching for condos in Washington, DC. Ask these questions of each condo you come across and you’re sure to find the right one for you.
Looking to learn more about condos in the DC metro area? We here at ClearCondos have you covered. Order a condo analysis report now!