Buying and Owning a Condo 101

Buying a condo is not the same as buying a single-family home.  There are different considerations to be taken into account prior to purchasing.  Most condo purchases in our area will use them as a vacation home or income producing investment.

Condominiums simplify our lifestyles, require less maintenance and offer amenities like fitness centers, tennis courts and pools

When buying a condo, it’s important to know that every condominium community is different.  Each community will have their own rules, association fees, management company and amenities.  We’ve made a list of a tips to use when buying a condo!

Determine Whether a Condo is Right for You

As mentioned above, owning a condo is much different than owning a single-family residence.  You will need to weigh the pros and cons and keep in mind choosing the right community is most important!

In Perdido Key we have Rental and Non-Rental Properties. Besides the chance to use the property as an investment there are also lifestyle differences between Rental and Non-Rental Communities.  Rental Properties are typically busier with visitors, so the parking and beaches can be busier during peak season! Non-rentals are typically smaller communities that sometimes may only have a few owners visiting at any one time! 

Owning a condo comes with HOA dues paid to the condominium association.  These dues typically include maintenance, amenities, building insurance, property management, water and trash.  Some HOA associations will also include basic cable and internet.  Insurance is also different for condo owners. The HOA will cover the actual building policy and as an owner you will purchase an insurance policy which covers just the inside of the unit including furnishings. This policy can vary in cost depending on what you choose in coverages, but typically costs under $1200 annually.  Although it may seem odd, an owner should always purchase a flood policy as well - we are in Florida and a Gulf front community!

Rental properties will offer you the opportunity to own a home for you and your family to enjoy while offsetting some of these fees and taxes.   If purchasing as an investment, you will need to know all of your expenses and decide if you will manage yourself or hire a property management team.  We can provide a net sheet with estimates to help you decide if this is the right choice for you!  We can also provide local property management companies for you to interview

Also, keep this perk in mind – most properties in Perdido Key are sold furnished and turn-key!

Paying for a Condo

Condo financing is not the same as a single-family residence.  It is critical to get pre-approved prior to looking at condos.  Obtaining financing can be tricky when it comes to purchasing a condo because many lenders do not allow for condo purchases.  This is why we recommend that you choose a lender experienced in Gulf Front Property Financing. 

Choosing someone inexperienced with Gulf Front properties can delay the closing and sometimes after valuable time has been spent, they will not obtain approval. Many local lenders have already "approved" many of our buildings and they can ensure a seamless process with less challenges. You can, however, still obtain a private mortgage for a condo purchase.  This often comes at a higher cost, as some private lenders will require a minimum of 20% down on a condo purchase.

Review Association Rules

Along with knowing what the association fees are and what they include, you’ll want to know the association rules.  All communities have rules and regulations.  Some people actually prefer to have their attorneys review the association rules prior to signing contracts.  The basics will include what types of pets you are allowed to own, whether you are allowed to rent the unit and if there are quiet hours.  If you have ever had to deal with a bad neighbor in the past, you will understand (and appreciate) the rules included in any condo association.

Ask About Special Assessments

What is a special assessment?  A special assessment is typically a large fee that is charged to cover a significant project within the community. An example would be a structural repair to the condo.  This is important to know because the association fees can rise for a specific period of time.  Any planned special assessments should be provided to a potential purchaser with full disclosure.  For example, if the roof of the building is being replaced in the near future, condo-owners will be notified about an association fee increase and the time-frame for which that increase will take place

Hire a Real Estate Agent Who Has Experience Selling Condos

Buying and selling a condo is much different than selling a single-family home. There are different contingencies than what comes with the usual residential purchase and sale contract. You will also need to review all Condo Documents, Financials and meeting minutes from the Condo Association.

It is very important to work with a real estate team who has experience selling condos.  The Kathy Justice Real Estate Team is experienced and knows how to guide you through the process to ensure important documents are not overlooked!


Buying a new home, whether it is your full-time home or vacation home, comes with obstacles and hurdles, but buying a condo is especially unique.  You will want to have the peace-of-mind knowing that every detail is covered, and no documents are overlooked.  Are you interested in buying a condo in the Perdido Key area? Our team has years of experience to make sure the process goes smoothly!

Posted by Kathy Justice on


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