You've decided the low maintenance condo life is for you. Contingency, pre-qualification and other jargon are enough to make anyone feel overwhelmed. When it comes to the condo buying process, there are lots of steps involved.
But don’t worry, here’s a chronological list of what an eager condo buyer needs to know about the process.
You Need to Get Pre-Qualified First
Condo living is perfect for people 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 a local mortgage lender to begin the financing process to acquire your mortgage. It’s important to know what you can afford before talking to a lender and especially before 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 pre-qualification letter, you’re likely to be behind other interested buyers who might have already been pre-qualified and been in talks with lenders.
A Good Agent Can Provide Invaluable Guidance
Generally speaking in Bermuda, agents represent those that are selling property, not those that are buying. Buyers, customers and agents all have a duty of care to be open and transparent with each other.
This means that agents provide buyers with all relevant information and help them navigate the condo buying process. Agents have a wealth of information and are an invaluable resource for buyers.
Agents can also help get you pre-qualified and have useful information regarding local lenders who can start that process. They are on hand for any questions and queries you might have.
Buyer Consultation Meetings Help More Than You Think
You might already have your perfect condo in mind: sand, sea and spectacular views. However, you can benefit from sitting down with your agent 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 you narrow down what you want. In most condo communities, there is a fee required monthly, quarterly, bi-annual 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.
Go Out and Actually View Condos
This is arguably one of the most important steps when it comes to purchasing a condo. Visit the condo first hand and experience the location and surroundings to see if it’s right for you.
If you are overseas, your agent might be able to send you photos or even a video, so that you’re able to get an 'idea' of what it's like before you fly to Bermuda.
It’s not all about the money. Condos also provide attractive lifestyle choices for many. They’re especially popular for those retiring or semi-retiring who want to socialize and take advantage of the facilities often featured on condo sites.
Living in a condominium can also alleviate you from some of the usual chores that go along with owning an individual freestanding house, such as maintenance whilst you’re away. Condos may also have desirable shared amenities like pools, tennis courts and beaches.
Write Your Offer and Make Sure It’s Competitive
It’s not just the sales contract that you have to think about when you’re buying a condo. There’s also an agreement or declaration that dictates the way 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 write offers for one condo at a time: Even if two condos appear on the market at the same time, don’t make offers for both to see which one you’d be accepted for. You don’t want to be party to two contracts so only make one offer at a time.
- Write your very best offer: You might get only one chance to make an impression on the seller. It’s possible to negotiate, but if the seller has received multiple offers, the low offers most often are not even considered. The seller will likely be looking for list price or above. So, figure out the top dollar you are willing to pay for the home and offer that price.
- If you are able to pay “all cash” (as in not having to go to the bank for a loan or mortgage) for a condo, say so: Even if you, the buyer, obtains a loan, a transaction that’s not 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, that might be more attractive to the seller than an offer for more money. It might just be the edge you need to beat the competition.
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 your agent to see which condo inspection type is best for you in your situation.
- You can waive it, if for all intents and purposes 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.
Use the Condo Doc Review Period Wisely
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 are not public information.
The rules in the documents can vary widely from community to community. In general, these documents could specify a range of items, including its pet policy or whether you are 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...
Closing Your Condo Deal Means Champagne
At this point, you’ll be excited to get into your condo and relax. You’ll be working closely with your lender, agent and the attorney that’s 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 at the ready to celebrate.
Everything You Need to Know About the Condo Buying Timeline
We know it can be frustrating to have a lack of 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.