Boston Condos for Sale and Apartments for Rent

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What is a Boston condo? What exactly do you get when you buy a downtown Boston condo?

When you purchase a downtown Boston condominium, you’re usually buying title to a subdivided space within a “common interest development” per the legal jargon that defines these things. A condo ‘unit’ can be bought and sold, financed and willed like a single-family house can be. As a condition of your purchase, you’re also agreeing to being bound by certain documents, rules, conditions and a homeowner association’s authority.

Buying a condo

Buying a condominium also means you’re not only buying the unit itself but you’re also buying into a homeowner association that ‘owns’ the common areas of a building like hallways, windows (potentially), roofs, and more.

 Condo ownership

Your ownership stake of the common area is usually tied to the square footage of your unit, which is in turn tied to the amount of the common dues that you’re expected to pay and is usually expressed as a percentage. The legal description of the unit will also include any exclusive use of a common area, i.e., a patio, parking space or storage area.

Condo Associations

Because the condo association has an obligation to maintain ‘common areas’ as well as to promote resident welfare they are granted certain amounts of power to achieve those goals. For large associations, the condo association will have a Board and that board will hire a property management company. Most condo associations will have formal meetings, others won’t. All condo associations are supposed to maintain financial records and provide annual statements among other requirements under applicable MA law.

The condo associations also will have easement rights (unfettered access) to enter your unit if there’s an emergency like a water leak or if there is an urgent repair for example.

Boston Real Estate for Sale and The Bottom Line

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Top 10 Questions to ask about a Boston condo association

You’ve found the condo that seems to fit your lifestyle. Now it’s time to get into the details before you write an offer. There are many factors about an condo association that can derail a loan, and knowing the answers to a few key questions will ensure you’re making a good investment—and that your loan processes without a hitch.

This is particularly important in the larger buildings, which can be more complicated than your four-unit Edwardian.

You and your Realtor should review all available condo association disclosures before determining an offer price. Here are my top 10:

1. Is the project a live/work, with any deed restrictions?

2. Does any one entity own more than one unit in a project that has less than 20 units?

3. Is there more than one short sale or foreclosure happening in the property?

4. Does any one entity own more than 10% of a project with more than 20 units?

5. Are there any special assessments coming up in the future?

6. Are more than 15% of the condo association dues delinquent?

7. What is the percentage of owner occupancy in the building?

8. What is the percentage of square footage that is allotted to commercial space?

9. Was the building recently condo converted?

10. Is there any litigation pending?

Knowing the answers to these questions will also make you more confident about your purchase (or give you a reason to move on).

Updated: Boston Real Estate Blog 2022

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Boston condos for sale