If you're shopping for Boston condos, then you already know how they open up a world of affordability, convenience, and worry-free living. But to get the best value for your money, you need to ask a few important questions, especially if you've never owned in a condo association before. Finding the answers to these ahead of time can help you make a more informed decision.

1. What are the condo fees and what do they cover? The monthly Homeowner's Association payment or more commonly known as a Condo Fee, takes care of the maintenance and insurance outside your unit and in common-area amenities, such as the courtyard, pool or hallways. Find out exactly what the condo fee pays for, so you know whether you pay separate charges for such services as snow removal or trash pickup. In small associations with 3-6 units, the condo fee typically covers master insurance, water & sewer, and common area electricity. If it's a professionally managed building, the condo fee typically covers the management fee, master insurance, water & sewer, common area electricity, snow removal, trash removal, any courtyard or or yard maintenance, and possibly some other items.

2. Are there any Special Assessments? A special assessment is a large fee typically for repairs of common area expenses such as roofs, siding, re-pointing of brick, or other major condo expenses. Special assessment costs are split between the condo association owners based on each owners percentage in the association, which can be found in the condo documents. Prior to purchasing a Boston condo, make sure there are no current or pending special assessments. If there is an assessment on a condo you are considering purchasing, find out if the seller is covering all or a portion of the assessment. If there is currently an assessment or pending assessment, the seller is typically responsible for paying this prior to closing, but every transaction is different, so find out before signing a Purchase and Sale Agreement.

3. Who takes care of common area maintenance? A maintenance or management company will take care of fixing large condo complexes. This can ensure repairs are completed in a timely and professional manner but may mire any requests in red tape and forms. On the other hand, a single person, sometimes a resident, may take charge of maintenance if it's a small 3-unit association, which can result in less-professional efforts and more delays, or it can be a positive more intimate association. This responsibility should be spelled out in the official condo documents. Typically if it's a professionally managed building, the management company hires a vendor to clean the common areas once/week, and take the trash out for the association. They will also hire someone for snow removal, but if you are in a small 3-unit association, the snow removal will probably fall on the three owners shoulders.

If you want to know more about the questions you need to ask when buying a condo, or want to get started in finding one, please contact us.