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condo ownership pros/cons?

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
My wife and I are throwing around the idea of purchasing a condo out west (colorado or utah). I would like to get some pros and cons about condo ownership from people who have owned one or have researched it.

Any thoughts and comments would be appreciated.
post #2 of 10
My opinion is that once you buy into an area, you kind of lock yourself into it, and travel less to "new" areas. It's hard to justify spending $$$ to go to, say, Europe when you're thinking "yeah, but we've got the condo...". Of course, if you've already done all your travelling, or have no desire to, this doesn't pertain to you.

But there are plenty of upsides, you can set it up how you like, you can invite friends and family to stay, you can sorta become a "quasi-local".

Downsides include cost, maintenance/common fees, vandalism/theft threat, etc.

Also, if I were to consider a purchase, it would be in an up and coming area like Big Sky, MT where you have a great chance for your investment to appreciate, rather than an established (read, expensive) area like Utah or CO.

Good luck, and you can invite me out via PM as soon as you close.
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post #3 of 10
Quote:
Originally posted by altalover:
My wife and I are throwing around the idea of purchasing a condo out west (colorado or utah). I would like to get some pros and cons about condo ownership from people who have owned one or have researched it.

Any thoughts and comments would be appreciated.
post #4 of 10
If you go skiing in Europe go to Bulgaria. It is the best and the cheepest place. Check www.banskotravel.com.
post #5 of 10
Altalover

I should imagine that downsides might include cost (maintenance, bills, insurance, strata membership where applicable, etc) for starters. Plus the inroads it may have on your time - managing it and dealing with the associated admin could be time consuming.

That said, many of the cons will only exist if you plan to rent it out. This can involved hefty management fees, bills all the time, concerns about damage to the property etc. But if you don't rent it out they won't be applicable.

Pros - well, there are loads of them. Just do it! But I echo the post above - look for somewhere your investment may prove fruitful.

JB
post #6 of 10
There's an old saying about boats being "holes in the ocean that you throw money into." A ski condo is the same thing: it's a vertical trailer on a mountain that you throw money at to keep it standing.

That being said, my condo at Timberline WV is the best thing I ever purchased--a real piece of happiness and a true break from the grind of the city. I actually use the place more in the warm months than in the winter--i's a great four season getaway.

When buying a condo, be sure to do a lot of research on the resort and its financial health. Your ultimate financial fate will become inextricably linked to that of your home mountain once you buy a vertical trailer on it.

Also, be careful about SPECIAL ASSESMENTS. I've spent more money in 3 years on special assesments than I did on my downpayment (I put down 20 percent). Mountain weather eats condos for breakfast. Assesments are the norm and not the exception for condo developments in harsh climes.

Also, if you intend to put your condo on a rental market, expect many more maintenance hassles and not as much money as realtors promise as your return on investment.

Finally, I stilll travel a lot despite owning a condo. No one on this list would be content to ski one mountain for the entire season--especially one in the Mid-Atlantic. The condo is a weekend place and not a destination as far as I am concerned. [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]
post #7 of 10
Altalover, we have a condo in Summit County Colorado. We have had this one for about a year, another for 3 years. It has been great. Remember though we are only 90 min away so we use it allot. I am hard pressed to think of any down sides. Even though we are at a resort we are close enough to 5 other areas so we go, sometimes. Yes we would go too other areas more if we did not have ours, but that really is not a negative. It is just too darn easy to wake up, put on skis and go skiing!

As to upkeep since we are close we do most of it. At our complex there is a mgr that will do emergency work for a pretty reasonable price of 25.00 an hour plus any materials. This is pretty common in our area. Also they offer a "maintenance check" every other week they will go and make sure everything is in working order. We do not have them do it as our maid service will do it as well.

As others of said watch out for HOA dues, they can sometime run more than the monthly mortgage. Some places may sound like a bargain but then with HOA you would be better of buying a condo that cost more but the monthly payout is less. We have not had any assessments. When buying get a copy of the previous HOA meetings minutes. That should tell you if they are considering assessments. Our HOA is pretty active and homeowners do maintenance each year to help keep cost down.

We do not have ours in a rental program. Frankly I have not heard to many positives from owners that do. We do rent ours out. I handle it and it takes very little time once you figure out how to market it. I have never had problems with renters, I speak to each before renting and remarkably people take very good care of it.

My sister, who lives in Missouri, owns a condo in the same complex. She too handles all rentals herself. They typically come out 2-3Xs in Winter and once in Summer. They make enough off rentals to pay for their unit. The one thing to think about is if you’re going to rent it out and there are problems you cannot just move your guest to another unit. Something the management companies can do. Once my sister’s electricity was out so she had them stay at our place. We luckily have never had such a problem.

Hope this helps. Good luck in your search. If you end up looking in the Summit County area I have a great agent. Something I found very hard to find in the mountains!
post #8 of 10
The ideal condo, and for me, the only condo that could ever tempt me, would be a "ski out".

If I have to deal with the car or shuttle, I'd guess that I would do it from a cabin.
post #9 of 10
West Virginia Skier said:

“When buying a condo, be sure to do a lot of research on the resort and its financial health. “

In some instances you may be able to choose a nearby town in lieu of the resort itself, for example Frisco or Silverthone,CO. This will have advantages and disadvantages. Rent and spend some time there before you invest.

Kima said:

“As others of said watch out for HOA dues, they can sometime run more than the monthly mortgage. Some places may sound like a bargain but then with HOA you would be better of buying a condo that cost more but the monthly payout is less. We have not had any assessments. When buying get a copy of the previous HOA meetings minutes.”

I would also suggest getting a copy of the association’s most recent financial statements and audit comments by a reputable CPA. If the statements haven't been audited-PASS!!! Take a hard look at their reserves and planned capital expenditures. It also might be worth a few pennies having an engineer look at not only the unit you are considering but the entire complex.
post #10 of 10
I should probably point out that I purchased a unit built in the 80s and that's caused a lot of problems for our HOA. In the past 3 years, our dues have doubled and we've had special assesments total 20 percent of the value of our units.

That sounds bad but there's been an upside besides all the great skiing and epic hiking in the Dolly Sods: my unit has increased in value by 36% (maybe more) over the past three years and so my equity stake is more than keeping up with special assesments. [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]

The problem with special assesments is if they are as big as mine have been, you either have to borrow on the equity of your primary residence to cover them or pay out of pocket. A $2,500 special assesment due in January can really put a damper on plans to ski in Europe or the West. On the other hand, if you budget for it and realize that you'll probably get the money back in the resail, it ain't as bad as it sounds.

One other thing to be concerned about. Condo HOA's have to put up with boatloads of CRAP, so be nice to those who volunteer to sit on these boards. In my development over the past year, the board has:

1. Attended court b/c a unit owner sued it over a special assesment.

2. Placed liens on several home owners who refused to pay special assesments.

3. Dealt with a serious wood theft problem and a problem with illegal dumping in our compactor.

4. Ordered an engineering study of our windows, siding, decks.

5. Taken bids for painting, siding, window, and deck replacement.

6. Negotiated with other developments on trash issues and road repair issues.

7. Neogotiated a new insurance contract.

8. Supervised the installation of a water shut off system in all of the units.

And these people would like to ski occasionally as well. Ok, you get the idea....
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