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Thinking of buying a condo? Find out these things first

Condos have a lot of appeal to various kinds of people. For renters, condos can bring the perks of ownership without some of the hassles. For homeowners, a condo can feel like a step down without taking a step backward, especially when it comes time to downsize.

Before you buy a condo, however, here are some questions you should ask yourself:

1. Is a condo a good fit?

Not everyone can handle living that close to their neighbors. If you've lived in an apartment before and dealt with the proximity of your neighbors with ease, you're probably more prepared for condo living than someone who has always lived in a country or suburban home.

2. Do you have the right help?

The purchase contract for a condominium is different than that for a home. There are numerous factors that you might not be familiar with or understand. You have to make certain that you carefully evaluate your responsibilities as a resident, the dues you have to pay and the limitations you are under. While having a condo gives you more rights than a renter, you still have more rules to abide by than a typical homeowner.

3. Do you know what you're getting?

Does a reserved parking spot come with your condo? What about additional storage? Are there privileges to a pool, community area, rec room or gym? Are utilities and trash services included or separate expenses?

In addition, do you understand when your association fees are due? What insurance and maintenance do they cover? What are you expected to carry on your own?

If this is a new condo development or you're living in an apartment building that is "going condo," make sure that you get legal advice before you sign any agreements.

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