2015 02 27 Realty & Mortgage CoHave you found that perfect condominium that meets all, or at least most, of your needs? Congratulations! I’ve been in your shoes, so I know it’s an exciting time. But keep in mind that purchasing a condo also means you are becoming part of a condo association. Healthy condo associations can positively impact your property values and also can enhance your condo living experience.

That’s according to Lou Lutz, a condo management specialist and Vice President of Community Management with Realty & Mortgage Co. in Chicago. He helps make sure condo associations are healthy and run smoothly. Some of the ways he does this is by guiding associations on specific considerations, of which there are many.

What are the rules regarding pets? Does the association have a reserve study? What’s the building’s history of special assessments? Does it have any units in foreclosure, and if so, how many? What is the assessment level history for the past five years? What percent of units are delinquent? What are the procedures and fees involved in unit improvements? What are the anticipated capital improvements over the next three years? How much parking is available? Is there guest parking? Are there storage facilities, workout facilities, or pool procedures, if applicable? How many condos are rental units? If there are rentals, what are the rental procedures and constraints? What would your neighbors be like? Are you familiar with the neighborhood? Do you know what kind of maintenance the association provides and the hours during which that maintenance is available? Are there any package delivery procedures?

If you are new to condo associations in Chicago, like I was when I purchased my two-bedroom condo in Lincoln Square/Ravenswood, here are some good questions to ask your realtor before making an offer:

–        What is the association’s reputation in the real estate community?

–       How long have the units in the building been on the market?

–       How many foreclosures and/or short sales has the building had in the last two years?

–       How many units sold above market and why?

–       Is there a mix between rental and owner-occupied units?

–       Are you allowed to rent units?

–       How many units are on the market right now?

–       How many units have been combined?

–       How does this association sell compared to comparable buildings in the area?

–       How do the reserves compare to other buildings the realtor has sold units in?

–       What information can the realtor provide regarding the neighborhood, schools, shopping, and the crime rate?

–       What services are available and what does the association provide?

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VGrabnerVictoria Marty has written for newspapers and magazines for more than 15 years and recently moved to the Lincoln Square, Chicago area. A frequent runner who loves learning and exploring new places, she has perfected the art of getting lost while simultaneously finding unique landmarks, boutiques and out-of-the-way nooks worth writing about. Her blogs are geared toward the newly transplanted who want to learn as much about Chicago as they can, as quickly as possible.

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