- Real Estate
Tips for Buying Beach Condos
Beach condos for sale - what to look for
So you’ve saved your money and are ready to realize your dream of living at the ocean in a beachfront condo. You have enough for a nice down payment and feel sure you’ll be able to get condo financing for the rest. The hard part now will be narrowing down the huge selection of beach condos on the market. Because of the present economy and the housing slump, this is an excellent time to buy a condo.
You'll find a wide range of beach condos for sale. Many condominiums for sale are now offered at reduced prices. Don't fall in love with the first one you see, however. By doing some homework, you can discover exactly what you're getting with your beachfront condo and whether it's a good fit for you and your family.
Buying a condo is a major decision that could affect you for years. Take your time and do some comparison shopping when searching for condominiums for sale. Shop for the best condo financing, too. All mortgage lenders are not equal. If you shop around and compare rates and features, you'll get a much better deal.
Why is this a good time to buy a condo?
This is a good time to buy a condo because the economy is depressed. Many people are having to tighten their economic belts, and the first things to go are usually expensive luxury items, like luxury condos. And in the case of expensive items that aren’t absolutely necessary, any condos used as vacation property can be considered luxury condos.
Another reason this is a good time for buying a condo is that owners are usually willing to negotiate more readily than they would be in a strong housing market. Some owners will even provide condo financing. If the interest rate is competitive, this could be a great deal for you.
Choosing a beachfront condo
You’ll probably have the happiest outcome buying a condo in a town with which you’re familiar. Maybe you’ve spent vacation time in the area, or perhaps you have friends there. If you’ve already gotten to know the town and the locals, you’ll have a better idea if this is somewhere you’d like to buy a condo.
Consider the weather of the town in which you’d like to buy a condo, too. If you’ve only visited in the warmer months, make sure you understand what the winters are like. Winters at the beach can be brutal. Moist, frigid winds come off the sea and can chill you to your bones. In this case, you probably wouldn’t enjoy your beachfront condo very much.
When you’re comparing condos for sale, consider the amenities offered. Does the complex have a pool? Is it heated? Are there tennis courts? Is a membership in a country club or golf course included? Does the complex include boat slips or a dock? The amenities provided with any condominiums for sale should match your interests. For example, if you don’t play golf, membership in a golf course will offer you little value.
Some beachfront condominiums offer special features. Our favorite beachfront condos have a private fishing pier. Since my husband and I love saltwater fishing, these condos would be perfect for us.
Another thing to consider when buying a condo is the security system in place. Is there a guarded entry into the parking lot? Is there a 24/7 security guard on the property? Is there a keyed entry from the beach? If not, anyone from off the beach can take advantage of your swimming pool and other amenities.
When you buy a condo, you’ll almost always have to pay a monthly association fee for grounds upkeep and other things. Before you buy a condo in a specific complex, find out how much that fee is and exactly what it covers. More importantly, find out what it doesn’t cover.
When perusing condominiums for sale, discover how the grounds and amenities are maintained. Are they kept in good repair? Are grassy areas and shrubbery kept looking their best? Are exteriors maintained and freshly painted? These can give you a good idea of how the beach condos are maintained overall.
Before you buy a condo, make sure you understand all the rules that apply to owners. Are pets allowed? If you’re a pet lover and have always had pets, you probably won’t be happy in the long run without having the opportunity to own a cat or dog. You might not miss it at first, but once the excitement of living in a beachfront condo wears off, you might miss pet ownership.
Also, before you buy a condo, find out about the owners’ association. How is it governed? How are decisions about the condos made? This can prove to be a very important aspect of buying a condo. Make sure you’ll have a say in major decisions regarding your beachfront condo.
When looking at condos for sale, even little things can turn out to be important. One is the parking lot and its rules. Some beachfront condos have parking lots that are too small. Because of this, each condo owner might be given only two parking passes. If you own two automobiles, there go both your parking passes. Any guests you might want to have will not be allowed to park in the parking lot adjacent to the beach condos. This might not seem important at the time you buy a beachfront condo, but it might turn out to be a problem later. If you expect frequent overnight guests, you’ll do better with a beachfront condo with an expansive parking lot.
New condo or used condo?
When looking at condos for sale, you’ll have to decide between new condos and established condos. Both have their advantages, along with their disadvantages.
A new condo will be sparkling clean and damage free. If you get it on the pre-construction aspect, you might be able to choose from different interior amenities. Some luxury condos allow buyers to choose paint colors, finishes, and appliances. One problem with new condos, however, is that there’s no history. In other words, you won’t have anything to judge how the complex is run. Of course, new condos might also be more expensive.
Older, established beach condos will have probably already established an “atmosphere.” It will be easier for you to judge what the condo owners are like than it would be with a new condo. Is the complex made up largely of retirees, families, or young singles? New condos probably won’t provide you with this kind of information.
Of course, the down side of used beach condos is that they could have flaws. These problems could be small and easy and inexpensive to repair, or they might be major flaws that will require the assistance of a contractor. If you’re buying a condo that’s older, have it inspected by a building contractor first.
When looking at condominiums for sale, consider the level of the beach condos. A beachfront condo on a higher floor will provide you with great views. You’ll be able to see up and down the beach and far out to sea. The disadvantages of buying a condo on a higher level include the fact that you’ll have to depend on an elevator to access your new home. This means that groceries, furniture, fishing gear, and beach paraphernalia will all have to be taken up and down via an elevator.
If you buy a condo on the ground level, you won’t be provided with much of a view. You will, however, enjoy other benefits of such a beachfront condo. Many beach condos on the ground floor have both a front door and a rear door. If you enjoy activities like fishing, a ground floor beachfront condo is very convenient. I know from experience that it’s difficult to take long fishing rods on an elevator.
Whether you’re buying a new condo or a used condo, you’ll probably be looking for condo financing. With the current housing situation, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have new rules concerning condo financing. In addition to your personal credit worthiness, these two entities also consider other aspects with condo financing. These include whether or not a single owner owns more than 10% of the condos in the complex, the cash reserves of the condo association, the number of condo owners who are past due on their association fees, and other aspects.
What does this mean for you? It means that of your beachfront condo doesn’t fall within Fannie’s or Freddie’s guidelines, you’ll be paying more for condo financing.
Even private mortgage insurers are taking a harder stance on condo financing. If the condominiums don’t fit the guidelines established by Freddie and Fannie, you might be required to make a 40% down payment for your beachfront condo.
The good news is that there are lenders who offer special condo financing. For condos that don’t meet the FHA standards, non-warrantable condo financing is often available. This type of condo financing might cost as little as ¼ percent above the current market rates.
If you’re buying a condo in Florida, you might find condo financing more relaxed. Freddie and Fannie both have new programs to help potential condo owners get condo financing in the state.
Once you’ve decided on a specific beachfront condo, shop around for the best condo financing. If you have good credit and a sufficient down payment, you should be able to find affordable condo financing.
Where to find condos for sale
Once you’ve decide on a specific area in which you’d like to buy a condo, start looking for condominiums for sale. Your best bet is often with a reputable real estate agent. You might be able to find a condo for sale that’s in foreclosure or short-sale status. In this case, you could find a great deal on condos for sale.
If you prefer a private sale, you can often find condos for sale in magazines, local newspapers, and on the internet. Many condominiums for sale on the internet include a video tour. The tour usually includes the interior of the condo for sale, along with a tour of the grounds and amenities provided.