Estate Planning Law Office of Attorney Joseph F. Pippen, Jr. & Associates
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Q.  What area should I be cautious about when purchasing a condominium?

A.  One of the most important elements in the decision to purchase a condominium is the thorough study of the prospectus.  It gives the vital information about the terms of sale, description of the property and legal documents about the property.  It will advise you of a potential roof or termite problem and give dates of recent repairs to such items.  It will document and list all pertinent information concerning the condominium and the associated risks.  The prospectus is required by law to be given to a potential buyer, and you will probably sign a document stating that you received one.

            Other information contained in the prospectus are estimates of the maintenance costs.  The age of the building and the equipment will be important here because buyers who have to replace an elevator or roof could be caught short.  Low maintenance fees could be a warning of potential traps for unsuspecting buyers.  Other areas to watch for are rules governing living arrangements and pets, information on the background of the developer and other persons involved in the project, and the guarantees that are being offered with the sale of the property.  The prospectus can also settle questions regarding subletting the condominium, in other words, whether or not it is permissible.  In the areas of financing for the purchase of a condominium, you should always make your condominium purchase contingent upon financing if you are unsure of loan availability.  The balance due at closing and the amount of down payment should be closely scrutinized and discussed with your attorney.

            Always schedule a walk-through prior to closing as you would in any real estate closing.  Do this before you sign the contract closing the transaction. Another must in the purchase of any property is title insurance.  It is relatively inexpensive insurance for the assurance that the title is free of problems. Minor but important issues to consider in condominium purchasing are parking privileges, outdoor cooking privileges, and definitions of your interest in the common areas of the condominium.

            Again, your most important document is the prospectus, and it is often several hundred pages long.  It should be reviewed by your attorney who can analyze potential problems for you.


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