Monday, November 14, 2011

Not Buying a Condo

We started our housing search looking for a condo.  A nice little place where we could save money, and then maybe rent out once we needed a bigger place.  We knew there were lots of bargains out there since the condo market had crashed and many places were priced at less than half what they would have cost a few years ago.  It seemed like a perfect plan.

We found a place that seemed perfect- 2 bedroom, 2 bath, fireplace, gorgeous vaulted ceilings with huge bright windows.  It faced the woods, and was right across the street from a big park. We loved it.  We put in an offer.  Since it was a shortsale (most of the condos in our area are) we needed to wait for bank approval, which took about 2 months.  In the meantime, I day dreamed about how I would decorate and having our first Christmas in our very own home.

Then we did the home inspection.

All I can say is: WOW.  The home inspector himself said "You think with a little condo an inspection isn't going to take long, but there is just so much going on here."
Some of the things going on:
  • An oven that's exterior gets so hot you can burn yourself.  
  • That renovated bathroom?  The sink wasn't actually secured to the wall.  The porcelain bowl could easily be knocked onto someone's foot, or a child could have pulled it down on their head.  
  • Opening the medicine cabinet put the place at risk of an electrical fire, due to a poorly placed and improperly installed light fixture. 
  • Neither toilet worked. 
  • The whole building had Poly B pipes; which means any condo that hasnt replaced theirs could explode-- sort of a problem when you share a building. 
  • Evidence of water damage on the ceiling that the inspector suspects is from the upstairs neighbor's bathroom.  
I could go on and on.  But the point is, it was looking less and less like a bargain and more like a safety hazard.  Additionally, the condo association docs showed what we should have suspected: they were in debt.  As more and more people couldn't pay mortgages, more and more people couldn't pay condo fees either.  Which means that they would either need to cut services or raise the fees on those who are paying. Not a good deal, if you ask me.

After all that, I was disappointed and tired. It had taken a long time to find that place, longer to wait for the bank, and I suspected we would find similar problems with a lot of the condos right now.

So we had an important realization: We didn't want all the risks and drama of buying into the condo market when it isn't healthy and we definitely didn't want to have to house hunt again in just a couple years.  So the plan changed.  We started the house search.  

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