TIPS FOR BUYING A TUSCALOOSA CONDO
We love working with Tuscaloosa condo buyers. There are so many great options for college students, Alabama fans, and investors. Plus, condo living offers several advantages- living closer to town and campus, amenities, less maintenance, and owning student housing instead of renting.
There are several things to consider when choosing a condo. We recommend taking the following steps to ensure you select the property that best fits your needs and lifestyle.
LEARN WHAT TYPE OF LOANS ARE AVAILABLE
Whether you are buying the condo as a primary residence or a second home matters when applying for a loan. If you are purchasing as a primary residence, more than likely you will find loan options that allow you to put as low as 3.5% down. We’ve even had clients who were able to buy without any down payment. If you are buying as a second home, we typically see lenders require 10% down in the Tuscaloosa market.
It’s also important to know if the condo you are buying is approved for FHA loans. The FHA loan is a very popular mortgage product because it allows a borrower only to come up with a 3.5% down payment. If a condo does not have FHA approval, you cannot secure a purchase with this type of loan product. Some condos in Tuscaloosa will go FHA, and some will not.
Talk to your lender about what loan options are available before making an offer. Need a lender? Give us a call, we can help get you connected with one.
KNOW WHAT HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATION FEES COVER
Each Tuscaloosa complex requires monthly (typical) or quarterly homeowners association (HOA) fees. Know what these fees cover as it’s different for each complex. At one complex HOA fees may only cover common area maintenance and insurance, while higher HOA fees at another complex may include your cable, water, and internet bills.
Find out what you are paying for, and what will be an additional expense. You can find HOA information about each Tuscaloosa condo community here on our site.
VERIFY THE RESERVE
Each association has a reserve fund to pull money from when repairs are needed. This pool of money comes from the associations members. An annual reserve fee is not a huge amount of money in Tuscaloosa, but it is still a cost that should be known before buying.
You will also want to verify that the complex has a healthy reserve. If the reserve is adequate, the complex will be able to cover any future problems. If the reserve is too low, condo owners are more likely to be assessed for additional funds.
CHECK INTO SAFETY FEATURES
Many Tuscaloosa condo buyers are purchasing for their University of Alabama (UA) student, and safety is, understandably, a top concern. Complex safety features might include gates, doors that lock automatically behind you, security for busy game day weekends, cameras, and fire alarm and sprinkler systems.
Find out what safety features you can expect and if you feel they are sufficient for you or your UA student.
ASK ABOUT STORAGE AND PARKING
Storage and parking are common concerns with condos. Some condos come with a storage closet, while others may offer other onsite storage options. Determine what your storage options are if you think this will be a problem.
The same goes for parking. Find out if you will have an assigned parking space or spaces that you own. It is also important to know if there is guest parking.
TOUR COMPLEX AMENITIES
Before buying, take a tour of the complex and see what amenities it has to offer and what condition they are in. One complex may boast a pool, clubhouse, putting green, and fitness facility while
some of the condos directly on campus might not have amenities, but be in a convenient to class or the stadium.
Whether you are looking for features that enhance your lifestyle, support health and wellness, or are family-friendly, there is a complex out there that fits your specific criteria.
FIND OUT ABOUT THE NEIGHBORS & THE NEIGHBORHOOD
If you are a retiree, chances are you may want to be surrounded by neighbors around your same age. Busy young professionals may not want to live next door to loud college students. Everyone has a preference that will contribute to the comfort of their home. Verify that your neighbors fit your lifestyle.
While you may have fallen in love with a particular condo development, it is also important to take into consideration the surrounding area in which it is located. The kind of questions you should be thinking about include:
Can I walk to class at the University of Alabama, or does the Crimson Ride pickup at my complex?
Are there major conveniences nearby like restaurants, a shopping plaza, or a coffee shop?
What will my daily work commute look like?
If you have kids, what school are you zoned for?
What is the crime rate for the area?
TALK ABOUT MAINTENANCE
The general arrangement is that the home owners association takes care of common area maintenance. Some go as far as handling your yard work for you. But not all associations provide the same level of maintenance. Discuss how maintenance is handled with the association so you will know what to expect.
On that note, find out what you are responsible for and what falls on the condo association. Gray areas might include roofs, windows, porches and patio maintenance. Some condo associations take full responsibility for these items. Other times this is not the case.
HOW IS THE PROPERTY BEING MANAGED
It's important to know how many condos in the building are owner occupied, and how many are leased. The more owner occupants, the easier it is to secure loans for the complex. It can also affect your quality of life as owners typically take better care of their property than a renter would.
You'll also want to find out if the property managers are doing a good job keeping units leased. Many Tuscaloosa condos are owned by investors who expect their units to stay occupied. If the management team consistently fails in finding renters and investors become unhappy, they could choose to sell all at once causing the property value to drop.
HIRE AN AGENT WITH CONDO EXPERIENCE
Having a knowledgeable agent help you clarify all the details is important, and can save you a ton of time. We sold 135 Tuscaloosa condos in 2018 alone. If you are looking to buy a Tuscaloosa condo, please use us as a resource. Call Jason Gray at 205-393-3044, and we can answer any questions you have.