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Buying a Condo? Here are Seven Common Pitfalls

Buying a new condo isn’t quite the same as buying a house. The terminology, regulations, process and guarantees are different than what you may experience buying a detached or semi-detached home.

Here are some common pitfalls to watch out for when you buy a new condo:

Overestimating how much living space you’ll get

Some contractors measure units from one exterior wall to another, which doesn’t always reflect the actual usable square footage. Some even include balcony space in the gross square footage. For buyers, however, it’s the net area most buyers care about: the space you can walk through and fill up with furniture. Be sure to ask how the square footage of your unit was calculated in the sales contract so you aren’t surprised when you move in.

“The difference is the walls, and also oftentimes the developers will add the balcony space into the square footage of the unit,” explained Vistacor Realty broker Andrew Mitchell. “Not all developers do, but it does happen.”

Not understanding the fine print

Pre-sales contracts aren’t boilerplate; they vary from project to project. Even if you’ve gone through buying property before, if you aren’t familiar with the ins and outs of co-ownership, it’s a good idea to lean on advice from a professional. Read through carefully, and consider working with an experienced real estate broker or even hiring a real estate lawyer to go through it with you to make sure you understand what you’re signing.

According to Century 21 broker Bahador Abadi, new-condo buyers often need help with the terminology not only in the lengthy pre-sales contracts, but also to understand the rules outlined in co-ownership agreements and other important documents. “It’s one of the biggest investments in your life. Take the time to read the information, and ask questions,” he said.

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