Purchasing a condo in Florida entails slightly different issues than buying a single-family home. Familiarize yourself with relevant state laws as well as the rules and regulations of the condominium's homeowner association. Doing so will ensure that you are well-prepared financially and practically to own and potentially reside in a Florida condo.
HOAs, or Homeowner Associations, are common among Florida condominium communities. When buying a single-family home, you have a clearly defined property. However, when buying a condo, your exclusive property is limited to everything within the space bordered by the walls, floor and ceiling of your condo unit. Exterior elements such as landscaping, stairwells and walkways are jointly owned by the community's residents, and the regulations regarding use and maintenance fall under the jurisdiction of a board of residents. When considering different condominiums, be certain to learn your annual contribution to the HOA and familiarize yourself with the association's operating procedures and budgeting from recent years. Determine whether utilities, such as water, are individually metered by unit, or whether their total costs are divided according to the HOA's formulae. If many units are unsold or go into foreclosure, each resident's HOA dues may increase. To reign in costs, the HOA may elect to reduce spending on community features, such as pools or landscaping.
Declaration of the Condominium, or 'Condo Docs'
Florida law mandates that upon purchasing a condominium, you receive the full declaration of the condominium, also known as the "condo docs." These documents typically run more than 500 pages and, as a result, many condo buyers fail to read them thoroughly. However, Florida law grants you 15 days upon buying a condo from a developer, to read the condo documents. If, during this time, you find anything amiss, it's still possible to nullify the purchase without any penalty. If you're buying the condo from a private individual, the grace period is limited to 3 days. It's important to review the documents, as they will provide building plans and unit floor plans, offer details about the condo's developer, and include complete information on the HOA, including fees, and rules and regulations. If, for example, a condominium association explicitly forbids residents from having your breed of dog, the condo docs will supply such vital details.
In Florida, the taxes on a condominium work similarly to those on a private house. They are levied annually and are based on the value of the unit, plus the relevant percentage of the value of all shared lands and properties. The condominium association typically covers fire insurance and extended coverage insurance on all units. It will be your responsibility to obtain contents and personal liability insurance for your unit.
- Photo Credit condo building image by Betty Oesterling from Fotolia.com
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