Whether you’re buying your first Chicago home or have decided to downsize, condos are a great option for anyone in the market for Chicago real estate. Owning a condo means being a part of the condo association, which takes much responsibility off the homeowner when it comes to the property.
But not all Chicago condo associations are like the other. It’s important to scope out the association and ask questions about a condo building with the same diligence you would the condo itself. Particularly in a down market, it’s impossible to see what’s going on in a building unless you dig a bit deeper.
If you’ve got your eye on a Chicago condo, here are a few questions you might not have thought to ask:
• What’s the future plan for the building? Many buildings have 5 or 10-year plans already in place, so it’s important to consider that plan in your decision-making.
• How much is in the building’s cash reserve? A reserve of $250,000 may seem stable, but for an older building, that amount might not go very far.
• Compare the assessments of a Chicago condo to sister buildings—those in similar locations, built near the same time and with like amenities.
• Does the association put a cap on the number of units that can be used as rentals? This is important to know as a potential neighbor, as well as if you’re planning to buy a Chicago condo to use as rental property. Some associations also put a limit on the amount of time a property can be used as a rental.
• Does the building have a loan from the bank? Many Chicago properties have made an example of what can happen when new buildings aren’t able to make good on their loans. As a potential buyer, you should know the ramifications of any loan that could affect your property.
• What is the history of remodeling in the building? If a Chicago condo building is due for touch-ups, keep in mind that you may have to deal with that construction.
• How old is the building? Has it had upgrades that are built into the price?
• Does the building have a history of any special assessments that you might have to consider?
One final tip: An inexpensive condo doesn’t mean it’s a great buy. An unbelievable deal is usually just that—so be sure to consider the whole package when shopping for a Chicago home or condo, not just the price tag.