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Old 05-31-2010, 03:38 PM   #121
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That's not a reasonable comparison. On coastal FL, there are many condo buildings separated by very nice SFHs - all on the beach. Guess which cost more? The SFHs. Of course the SFHs 10 blocks from the beach may cost less than the beachfront condo, but, all things being equal, the SFH on the beach will still cost more.
Obviously, a waterfront SFH will be worth more than a waterfront condo in the same location. However, a waterfront condo will usually be worth more than a SFH that is not in a waterfront location elsewhere in the same town.
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Old 05-31-2010, 06:46 PM   #122
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We purchased in a building were rentals are not allowed, largely retirees, with substantial reserves. A BORING building. Great place to live.
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Old 05-31-2010, 08:10 PM   #123
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2. The landlord owners seemed to have a different agenda than the owners who occupied their own units.
I've owned and rented out a few condos ... #2 is why I'll never buy another condo for rental. Managing maintenance costs by committee is a fools game.
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Old 05-31-2010, 09:06 PM   #124
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I've owned and rented out a few condos ... #2 is why I'll never buy another condo for rental. Managing maintenance costs by committee is a fools game.
In many west coast states at least the basic format is getting laid down in legislation and supervision. I have been looking at condos to live in, and the better ones all have very detailed 20 year budget plans for maintenance and capital projects, as well as sources and uses of funds over that time. I believe that California is in the vanguard of this movement, and Washington last.

I somewhat disagree with another poster's preference for buildings with many older residents. I have seen two co-ops where the board recently turned over from people born in the depression years to boomers and younger. Both of these places have completely turned around a situation of neglect which came about because there were too many voters who just wanted to live there until they died, and did not want to spend anything on upkeep beyond responding to emergencies.

One in particular is a 120 unit building with a very energetic new president and treasurer, as well as an excellent onsite manager with an office open normal business hours who even gets a unit to live in. His job is fully professional with health insurance, 401 K etc. For a typical middle income retiree, I think it helps toward commonality of purpose if the residents are not extremely wealthy, or using their units as 2nd or third homes

Too many places are too small, or do not want to take on the expense of doing it right and soon you are living in a dump.

I also doubt the contention that it costs less to maintain a SFH than one's share of a condo. Maybe if you are victim of catch-up costs, but otherwise, start to think about all the costs both monetary and in time and trouble of maintaining a home in anything like saleable, good condition. Painting or brick and trim maintenance, roof leaks, foundation or plumbing problems, untold hours trying to get craftsmen who are really craftsmen and not just drunks temporarily sober until they tear up your kitchen, or alternatively spent running back and forth to one of those horrible home supply stores, doctors bills for when you fall off a ladder or slip on the roof or cut your hand clearing debris after a storm, and on and on and on. And then there are mower repairs, blah, blah, blah. Last, a typical urban mid or high-rise building has less mandscaping than a typical urban SFM. So 120 people are paying for roughly the same amount of gardening that one would be paying for in a SFH.

Further, the condo or co-op has much more bargaining power and management time when putting out bids for maintenance or capital improvements, overseeing the job, and seeing to it that it is properly insured and completed.

I only need to keep my apartment clean and neat, and keep up on car washing and maintenance. All my other time can be spent doing the many things that I enjoy, which does not include home fixups.

A condo would be more maintenance intensive than a rented apartment, but in a well chosen one I think it might not be a whole lot different. I am trying to avoid units without community laundry rooms. I really do not want washer and dryer, especially when shoehorned into a small closet. I know that W&D in the unit is a selling point, but that holds both coming and going and once I buy I do not expect to go anywhere voluntarily. Same with water heaters- when I can get it I prefer hot water from a central boiler.

I realize of course that some people really love this stuff, and for them the comparison would be different. And for some there is the problem of too many humans in the environment, or of sometimes not being able to have dogs and cats.

Ha
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Old 06-01-2010, 04:01 PM   #125
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...I really do not want washer and dryer, especially when shoehorned into a small closet. I know that W&D in the unit is a selling point, but that holds both coming and going and once I buy I do not expect to go anywhere voluntarily. ...
We have one of each: shoehorned into small closet in our Mexico condo, and shared with four other penthouses up north. The shared one is far more effective and conflicts are never a serious problem. But it remains an emotional issue, especially for the washer-person.
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Old 06-01-2010, 05:12 PM   #126
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One in particular is a 120 unit building with a very energetic new president and treasurer, as well as an excellent onsite manager with an office open normal business hours who even gets a unit to live in. His job is fully professional with health insurance, 401 K etc. For a typical middle income retiree, I think it helps toward commonality of purpose if the residents are not extremely wealthy, or using their units as 2nd or third homes

* * * I am trying to avoid units without community laundry rooms. I really do not want washer and dryer, especially when shoehorned into a small closet. I know that W&D in the unit is a selling point, but that holds both coming and going and once I buy I do not expect to go anywhere voluntarily. Same with water heaters- when I can get it I prefer hot water from a central boiler.

* * * *
Ha
An excellent onsite manager is worth his weight in gold. It makes living in a condominium much more bearable and an excellent one can save the HOA a lot of money. So, anyone looking at a condo should inquire about the management company running the joint.

On the issue of washer and dryers, I prefer to have them in my closet; I have the side-by-side and stackable ones in the two units I own. I'd rather not go to a community laundry room, but I can see going there if I were single and lookingt for some company. I also have a tankless water heater in one unit; it works well for me.
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Old 06-01-2010, 07:02 PM   #127
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Another issue is the condo manager's registration or license with the state... here in CT, it is required but many boards of directors are unaware of this. One more reason to buy into a large (over 100 units) place as they tend to be more on top of legal and managerial issues. Larger complexes usually will avoid the traps of smaller complexes (father and son taking over the board of directors and directing money their way, which can really cause trouble if they are in collaberation with a property manager and do not have fair elections and have two sets of books - can you tell I've been down this road before?).

Next issue is the common area - are you paying for a pool, beaches, tennis courts, full-time employees? These are always less expensive when many owners band together to pay for them.

I would agree with Ha's thing about a common boiler vs. an owner's hot water heater - I moved from such a place and have to take shorter showers and baths (that I have to pay for!).

After all I've been through, I bought another condo at a large complex (over 100 units), did my due diligence and am very happy with my beachfront unit!
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Old 06-02-2010, 08:40 PM   #128
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We have one of each: shoehorned into small closet in our Mexico condo, and shared with four other penthouses up north. The shared one is far more effective and conflicts are never a serious problem. But it remains an emotional issue, especially for the washer-person.
Curious as to where in Mexico your condo is located?

Never mind, dug around a little and found it. Very nice.
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Old 06-03-2010, 12:15 AM   #129
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We bought in a building with about 60 owners. The building employs manager, maintenance and staff... all great folks who do great work (head maintenance man is licenced to maintain and repair boiler system). Board of Directors leverage professional talents of owners for committees.

There is a common laundry room but many have stacked washers/dryers in unit used particularly for small items.

Older building constructed for this use, HUGE store-room with each unit and parking place designed for a 60s Caddie. Need I say more.
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Old 06-04-2010, 02:30 PM   #130
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Events in my old complex are unfolding just as I had feared. One owner is trying to sell but found that his roof is a problem with the inspection. He wants the HOA to fix it now but the HOA cannot really do that with the suit going on. I don't know why this particular owner wants to sell but I do know several owners who have lost their incomes. If they can't sell, then foreclosure is a possibility. While the suit goes on, the downward spiral in the complex will likely be unpleasant.

Another point on getting a mortgage on a condo: in my current complex, one owner tried to refinance but the lender refused citing inadequate HOA reserves. This applies to buyers as well.
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Old 06-04-2010, 03:54 PM   #131
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FWIW, I've lived in just about every type of housing known to man, but my two experiences with a condo (first time for 4 years back in the mid-70s, second time for two years in the late 80s) is something I look back on with great fondness, and I would most definitely consider it again.

I absolutely hate high-rise buildings, and my three experiences with them have been terrible.
I like single family detached homes (I live in one now), and while I enjoy the privacy, there is a lot of work on both the house and the yard that I won't be able to do forever, not to mention the cost of all that work.

The high point of condo living (both times were in brick townhouses) was the ability to simply lock up and take off for weeks at a time with no worries.

The low point was twofold: some of them have extremely restrictive rules, and you may have to deal with an association board that thinks very differently from how you think. Also, you might be on the hook for some very expensive maintenance/repair work that you never anticipated (in one case, we needed major utility line moves, with the attendant repaving and general upheaval. in another case, we needed complete roof replacement when it was found that the builder had used substandard materials).

Even though I expect to eventually move into a condo again when I can't do all the house/yard maintenance myself, I expect to spend a very long time researching the possibilities. I will read the HOA covenants and restrictions very carefully, with all the small print, and I will take nothing for granted. I will also talk with several people who live there, and listen carefully.

Bottom line: caveat emptor, but I really believe condo living can be a great thing.
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Old 06-04-2010, 05:38 PM   #132
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I absolutely hate high-rise buildings, and my three experiences with them have been terrible.
Could you expand on this a bit?

Thanks, Ha
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Old 06-04-2010, 06:01 PM   #133
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Purely a personal thing. I just get a claustrophobic feeling when I'm surrounded by other apartments all around me and below and above me, with no way out except an elevator or a stairwell. No actual reason for it, but I've been forced by circumstances to live in them (New York, Washington DC, Rio de Janeiro, and Los Angeles), and I couldn't wait to get away.
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Old 06-06-2010, 02:32 PM   #134
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I'm a another that prefers low rise/low density condos over a high rise. We had a condo in a high rise in Sydney years ago, the monthly fees were high due to the elevators which always seemed to break down. Personally I could never live on a really high floor, being above the 10th floor does my head in, I would be too scared to go on the balcony nor would I go too close to the windows.
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Old 06-06-2010, 02:42 PM   #135
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I'm a another that prefers low rise/low density condos over a high rise. We had a condo in a high rise in Sydney years ago, the monthly fees were high due to the elevators which always seemed to break down. Personally I could never live on a really high floor, being above the 10th floor does my head in, I would be too scared to go on the balcony nor would I go too close to the windows.
Yesterday I went out on the balconey in an 18th floor unit with my realtor. She stayed in the room, but when I came in she told me that just having me out there almost gave her heart failure.

When I was a college student I took my girlfriend on a climb on Mt Washington. Nothing particualrly technical, but some passages of considerable exposure. There was a chimney where a mountaineering club had driven rebar hand and foot holds into the granite. I started up and got to the top. I pulled myself out and looked down-way down. It was safe, but maybe 500' of space below us. She was frozen, because she had looked down too soon. She was able to be talked up to where I could get a hand on her while I was lying on the rock and pull her out. Scared the you-know out of both of us. We found an alternate route back down, and found hikes with no adrenalin for our future outings together.

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Old 06-06-2010, 02:51 PM   #136
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That's great stuff.
Even though I grew up in NYC, I was always somewhat afraid of getting too close to the edge in a tall building.

What cured me was taking up rock climbing as a hobby while in college.
Weekends on the Shawangunk cliffs worked wonders, and I've never had acrophobia again.
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Old 06-06-2010, 03:00 PM   #137
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I'm not a big fan of heights. At places like the grand canyon, I can't even stand going up to the edge where the railing is. Flying doesn't bother me, it's as if being inside the plane provides safety. There is no way on this earth you would ever get me sky diving or bungee jumping. I am not even a big fan of roller coasters because of the height issue.
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Old 06-06-2010, 06:47 PM   #138
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We are on the 5th floor of a 10 story building and have a large deck. I plan to fill up the planters to provide a connection to the earth below.

Neither husband or I have an issue with heights so long as we know we are safe. When our home was on the market we learned that many do have an issue with heights.

The only time I get nervous about heights is when my son goes up a mast or my daughter climbs in Jackson Hole. Thank heaves she climb any more and my son now uses a crane to rig a boat.
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Old 06-06-2010, 07:06 PM   #139
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With all due respect, I think this thread has now been hijacked for long enough, and we'd better let it get back to the original intent (condo purchase advice). Acrophobia is a big enough topic to have its own thread, but I doubt if this is the forum for it.
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Old 06-06-2010, 07:16 PM   #140
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Getting back to the original question: before buying a condo do a lot of research and understand the trade-offs between buying vs renting housing. The problem with a condo is that you are buying into a community which has a culture. You don't want to be a member of a group with short-term thinking or unwilling to maintain standards which make it a pleasant place to live because the cost of moving on (selling real estate) isn't cheap. The HOA can't evict an owner who is a PITA.
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