Denver Realtor John Stegner, of New Era Group at Your Castle Real Estate, lists the top three questions to ask before buying a condo.

The Denver area has one of the tightest housing markets in the country. However, according to 5280, recent data shows the local real estate landscape is starting to even out and inventory is higher. Stegner says this is providing more choices for buyers, but that builders are still coming up short of meeting the demand driven in large part by inbound migration. “Buy now” is Stegner’s advice as he expects property values to continue to climb.

“But before getting too excited, there are things to consider before rushing out and buying a condo,” said Stegner. “You need to make an informative decision and not get in over your head. It’s important to carefully weigh the pros and cons of condo ownership before taking the plunge.”

Stegner, shares the top three questions to ask before buying:

What are the HOA fees and rules?

“Before buying a condo, always research the homeowner’s association (HOA),” stressed Stegner. “Know what the monthly fees will be, what they cover and the rules the HOA regulates for the community. Some HOA’s are stricter than others.”

HOA fees are necessary to keep a building maintained and managed properly. Excessively high HOA fees can be the result of past mismanagement and low HOA fees might be a red flag that the condo association is not budgeting for the future.

As part of the buying process, Stegner suggests that buyers always review the budget directly with HOA management to have a full understanding as to the reserves the building or complex has in place and that they have a plan for maintaining and replacing major systems and components. “Buyers who fail to take this step may end up facing a significant increase in their HOA dues or a one time ‘special assessment’ of several thousand dollars,” added Stegner.

Are there common areas and outdoor space?

Many condos lack private outdoor space such as a yard or balcony, yet Colorado has some of the most wonderful weather in the nation. When buying a condo, it is important to always have future resale in mind so finding a condo with a private outdoor space or easy access to an appealing community space is important for future value. Stegner recommends taking the time to tour the common areas when making a purchase decision.

Is there privacy and security?

A plethora of condo buildings have their own security systems and come with a secure entry or even security staff, which saves owners the time and hassle of installing a security system of their own. Condo ownership can be fantastic for the Colorado lifestyle as you can simply walk away from them without worry for a ski weekend or that tropical vacation. However, each property is different.

Beware of common issues such as buying a condo with one parking spot when there is a need for two. Many condos are located in very dense areas and finding available parking for that second car could be expensive. “Condos are also much less private than single-family homes. You’re sharing at least one wall with neighbors, so noise issues can be a problem for some,” Stegner concluded. “Condos are not for everyone, but when buyers are properly coached and informed, they can make both a wonderful home and exceptional investment.”

John Stegner, Realtor at New Era Group at Your Castle Real Estate in Denver, is a five generation native to Colorado who specializes in condos, lofts and single-family homes. Stegner has first-hand knowledge of many of the neighborhoods in the Greater Denver Metro area. For more information, visit mynewera.com/john-stegner.