Things To Look For When Buying A Condo-Part 1

Physical Inspection

When you buy a condominium you’re also buying into the building that encloses it, as well as every other building in the association and everything else intended for common (and limited common) use. You’ll be paying to operate, maintain, repair, and (when the time comes) replace them.

With that in mind, it would behoove you to inspect those elements. Detailed inspections are not practicable and space doesn’t allow for comprehensive discussions of every possible element or condition, but certain basic principles apply. In essence, if something doesn’t look right, it probably isn’t.

A simple walk through the property can be revealing. If the grounds are littered with construction materials (shingle remnants, siding, sheet metal, brick pieces, etc.) there’s reason for concern. If buildings exhibit bulges, missing cladding materials, excessive cracks, or other conditions that seem out of the ordinary, there are questions that need to be answered.

Parking garages with excessive and/or displaced cracks, exposed steel reinforcement or  broken tendons (usually characterized by “cable” loops at the undersides of slabs) will probably require some degree of rehabilitation in the near future. Gutters in garages are almost always installed to collect water from leaks through defective waterproofing systems.

One thing buyers frequently fail to consider is noise. If you inspect the unit at a time when nobody is home in neighboring units, it could be misleadingly quiet. It might annoy your realtor, but try to arrange multiple (at least two) visits during hours when the neighbors are likely to be home and active.

While detailed inspections by prospective buyers are not usually possible, detailed professional inspections have likely been performed and reports would have been generated.  In Part 2, to follow, we discuss documents you should review to help inform your decision.