People interested in condominium or co-op ownership should pay close attention to a number of factors at each development they visit:
- They should ask about the financial condition of the association or corporation that manages the property. They may request a copy of the latest financial statements and budgets. They can find out about the ratio of owners to renters, the stability of the maintenance fees, and recent unit sales.
- They should find out whether there are any pending lawsuits against the development. Builders, neighbors, and even former owners might have filed suit. If anyone did, they can find out why and find out the outcome.
- They should ask about the bylaws and the restrictions. If they are particularly strict, prospective buyers may not wish to purchase a home there. Even if they have no trouble with the restrictions, potential subsequent buyers might when it comes time to sell later on.
- Prospective buyers should hire an inspector to check the structural condition of the building (including electrical, heat, and plumbing). They should find out the condition of the roof and the common areas. Also, they need to find out about how soundproof the building is.
- Prospective buyers should talk to current or former owners if possible. They may be able to find out from the owners what are the pros and cons of the development in question—what they like and what they wish they could change.
Condominium and co-op ownership is not for everyone. If people think it will meet their needs, however, they will do themselves an enormous favor simply by making a checklist of the items above and being prepared when it comes time to discuss an actual deal.