A Guide to Purchasing a South Florida Condo

A Guide to Purchasing a South Florida Condo

  28 Aug 2021

Condos in South Florida are a wonderful choice for downsizing families. Condos are easy to find near beaches and golf courses and don’t require much maintenance. The condo association usually takes care of maintenance. If you’ve never lived in a condo before, there are some things you should know before you purchase. This can be a very different experience than living in a suburban single-family home.

Condo Rules & Regulations

It is a good idea to have rules. A set of rules is necessary to maintain order in a condo community in South Florida because of the high number of residents. Every condo community has a set of Rules & Regulations that everyone must follow. These rules cover everything, from pet restrictions to parking and trash/recycling to rental restrictions.

Make sure you read the rules. You should not be able to live with them. You might be thinking you can bend the rules. There are usually people in the building who have enough time to ensure everyone follows the rules. These people are affectionately called condo commandos. All buyers in Florida have a three-day right to rescission when purchasing a condo. Buyers have three days to review the rules of the association and its financial condition before they purchase. Within that three-day period, buyers have the right to cancel any sales contract.

Approvals for Associations

You will most likely need to have your purchase approved by the association before you buy a condo, townhouse, or coop. Before you can close on your condo, you will need to get written approval. The deed and county records record the approval. You will typically fill out an application. You will need to verify your credit and history. This process can take up to 30 days. A minimum credit score may be required by the association. Before you submit your application, you may want to verify your credit score. These fees are non-refundable. After approval, you will need to interview a member of the condo board. This interview is typically a conversation with a member of the condo board. They will go over the rules with you and make sure you fully understand them before you move in. Interviews are usually conducted in person. There are exceptions to the rule. Interviews can be conducted by Skype or phone, but make sure you check beforehand.

What about pets?

It can be difficult to find a condo that allows your pet. Particularly if you have a limited budget. Condos that are less expensive were constructed in the 1960s or 1970s. Most of these older buildings did not have policies. Modifying condo rules requires amendments to condominium documents, which can be difficult. If you find a condo that allows pets, they will usually allow smaller pets (usually under 20 pounds). Some buildings are more accommodating to pets than others. These newer buildings are more expensive. A condo or homeowners association must allow you to keep your service animal or emotional support animal, provided you have the appropriate documentation. This is a complete list of pet-friendly condos in Pompano Beach or Lauderdale by the Sea.

Check out the Association Finances

A solid balance sheet and ample funds to cover repairs is a sign of a well-run association. Once they have signed a contract, they must show the buyer their financial statements. The buyer is allowed to inspect the financial statements for three days, as I have already mentioned. If they are not satisfied with the information, they can cancel the contract. Many associations fell into financial difficulties when large numbers of their owners were unable to pay their dues. Although the worst is over, there are still some associations that are poorly managed that aren’t yet fully recovering.

Financing a South Florida Condo

Low down payment loans can be difficult to find these days but they are still available from FHA. The FHA must approve the association using its standards of financial strength. The FHA maintains a list of approved associations. Spot approvals can be requested if an association has not been preapproved. However, this can take time.

FHA is particularly concerned about the amount of money that can be used for repairs. FHA wants to see 10% of the budget in reserve accounts. Another measure is the ratio between owner-occupied and tenant-occupied units within the complex. FHA financing is not available for condos that have more than 50% tenant-occupied units. FHA financing is not possible because of the requirements of some associations. There are also associations that ban private mortgages. Again, make sure to check the rules.

Fort Lauderdale’s Newest Condo Buildings

Condo Fees and Assessments

Condominiums are required to collect dues, which can be monthly or quarterly. These fees can be used to pay for landscaping maintenance, pool service and water, sewer, and trash removal, to name just a few. You should verify what the association charges. For example, some associations may not pay for water or sewer. Others may be able to pay for basic cable TV. A portion of these fees is usually used to fund large-ticket maintenance costs like exterior paint or a new roof. Sometimes, additional funds may be required to pay for major renovations. The association will then assess each owner and collect that percentage. Concrete restoration has been required for many condos in South Florida that were built between the sixties and seventies. This is due to the concrete’s salt-air deterioration. This can be costly.

Coops

You will find listings for Coops in South Florida if you’re looking for condos. They will likely look great and offer great deals. It is crucial to understand the differences between a condo or a coop. A condo gives you actual ownership of the unit, from the wall inward, and a small portion of common areas such as hallways and lobby. A coop is a way to buy a part of a corporation and obtain an exclusive or proprietary lease on the unit.

The land beneath the building is not usually owned by coops. They typically have a lease on the land. Either you pay an additional fee or it is included in your monthly dues. The term of a land lease is 99 years. It is important to understand how the lease will end. You can choose to renew it automatically or you could opt for a buy-out option. Each case is different. In the Sixties, coops were very popular. This is the time most were built in South Florida. They are now about halfway through their land leases.

Condos are easier to finance than coops. Only a handful of lenders will finance a co-op. A 30-40% down payment is required if a lender is available. The interest rate for a condo will be higher than that of a coop. A coop is usually cheaper than a condo. They are also very similar.

New Construction

From 2008 to 2016, South Florida saw almost no new residential construction. This has changed over the last few years. Construction in Florida of all types is on the rise again. New condos, apartments, and commercial buildings are being built everywhere you look. Fort Lauderdale’s new condos tend to be in the luxury or ultra-luxury category. You should be ready to spend a little more if you want something modern and new.

This post was written by a real estate expert from the Dotoli group. Josh Dotoli is Paramount Residences #1 Selling Realtor with nine sales in 2021, 3x more sales than any other Realtor selling in the building. The Paramount Residences enjoys a prime beach area location. It is a Ft. Lauderdale oceanfront condo located across from the beach.