You've decided that vacation condo life is for you, but contingency, pre-qualification and other jargon are enough to make anyone feel overwhelmed. Many steps are involved when it comes to buying your dream vacation condo, so we want to make the process as seamless as possible for you.
That’s why we’ve put together this straightforward guide on the process of buying a vacation condo.
- Get Your Finances in Order
- Work With an Experienced Agent or On-Site Sales Person
- Be Sure to Book in a Buyer Consultation
- Go Out and View the Condos
- The Final Checks Before You Go Ahead and Buy
- Discuss the Condo Inspection with your Agent
- Take Time to Review the Condo Document
- Closing Your Condo Deal Means Champagne
1. Get Your Finances in Order
Vacation condo living is perfect for those who want the use of shared amenities without parting with a lot of cash for them.
First and foremost, you need to talk with your preferred mortgage lender to begin the financing process to arrange your mortgage. It’s important to know what you can afford before talking to a lender and viewing any condos for sale.
Condos are especially popular in desirable places with high property value, like vacation hotspots. If you fall in love with a vacation condo in a place like Bermuda and you don’t have your finances ready to go, you’re likely to be behind other interested buyers who have already been in talks with lenders and have offers ready.
2. Work With an Experienced Agent or on site Sales Agent
In Bermuda, agents and developer real estate teams generally represent those selling property, not those that are buying. But buyers, customers,agents and developers all have a duty of care to be open and transparent with each other.
This means that those selling should provide buyers with all relevant information to help them navigate the condo buying process. Agents and on-site real estate teams have a wealth of knowledge and are an invaluable resource for buyers.
3. Be Sure to Book in a Buyer Consultation
You might already have your perfect condo in mind: sand, ocean and spectacular views. However, you can benefit from sitting down with an agent or the seller and discussing in detail exactly what you’re looking for in a property.
Not only does this make your search more efficient, but it also helps narrow down your options. In most condo communities, there’s a fee required monthly, quarterly, bi-annually or annually by each resident. HomeOwner’s Association fees cover common expenses such as insurance and maintenance — the buyer consultation meeting will help you understand these better.
4. Go Out and View the Condos
This is arguably one of the most critical steps for purchasing a condo. Visit the condo and experience the location and surroundings to see if it’s right for you.
If you’re overseas, your agent might be able to send you photos or even a video so you can get an 'idea' of what it's like before you fly.
It’s not all about the money. Vacation condos also provide attractive lifestyle choices for many. They’re especially popular for those who want to socialize and those with families to take advantage of the facilities often featured on condo sites.
Living in a condominium can also alleviate some of the usual chores that come with owning a single home, such as maintenance while you’re away. Condos may also have desirable shared amenities like pools, tennis courts and beaches. So, better facilities and lower running costs than a single home will provide.
5. The Final Checks Before You Go Ahead and Buy
It’s not just the sales contract you have to think about when buying a condo. There’s also an agreement or declaration that dictates how the condominium operates and is governed.
Before buying your condo, you should request and read the documents that apply to the management of the complex.
Work with your agent to find a competitive number you’re willing to offer. Here are our best tips for making an offer:
- Only commit to buying one property at a time: Even if two condos appear on the market simultaneously, don’t offer to buy both. You don’t want to be party to two contracts, so only make one offer at a time.
- If you can pay “all cash” (as in not having to go to the bank for a loan or mortgage) for a condo, say so: A transaction that isn’t dependent on receiving loan approval is more attractive to a seller.
- Offer to close as quickly as you can: Unless there are extenuating circumstances, many sellers prefer to close within 30 days or fewer. If you can offer a 21-day closing time frame, it might just be the edge you need to beat the competition.
6. Discuss the Condo Inspection With Your Agent
As a condo owner, you’re only responsible for what’s “inside the walls”. Big-ticket items like the roof, grounds and pool maintenance are all taken care of by the HomeOwners’ Association.
You can gauge how competitive the market is with the agent or real estate team representing the project to see which condo inspection type is best for you in your situation.
- You can waive it if it appears to be in excellent condition, which is more appealing to the seller in a competitive offer situation.
- You can do a “void only” home inspection and pass or fail it. This means the buyer can still void the contract if they don’t like what they find in the inspection.
- You can do the full home inspection, which is a detailed investigation of all major appliances, amenities and common elements.
7. Take Time to Review the Condo Document
Condo documents provide crucial information on the financial status of the building. Most importantly, take a look at the condo’s reserve funds and operating budget. These will usually only be made available as a condition of the contract, as they aren’t public information.
The rules in the documents can vary widely depending on the community. In general, these documents could specify a range of items, including its pet policy or whether you’re allowed to rent your condo out short term. In most cases, this is prohibited.
Make sure you read the appraisal contingency carefully, too. Once it’s appraised at or near your offer price, you can relax: the best part of the condo buying process now lies ahead...
8. Closing Your Condo Deal Means Champagne
At this point, you’ll be excited to get into your condo and relax. You’ll work closely with your lender, agent, developer and the attorney handling the closing.
You should have already reviewed the closing statement beforehand and be well aware of the final numbers — there should be no surprising figures at this point. Closing shouldn’t take more than a few hours, so have your champagne ready to celebrate.
Everything You Need to Know About the Condo Buying Timeline
We know it can be frustrating to lack transparency in the condo-buying process. To help you visualise the steps, we’ve created a timeline. From enquiry to exploring your new home, we’ve mapped it all out.
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