Using an agent without condo experience can cost you thousands of dollars
Condo and Townhome Sales are Unique
Condominium and townhome sales are more complex than single family home sales because there is a governing owners association on top of individual unit ownership. Condo and townhome transactions in Texas require your Realtor to use different sales contracts and addenda. Before closing, buyers should review Bylaws, Declarations, insurance coverage, financial strength, budget and dues of the association. Are the seller's HOA dues paid current? Are there pending major repairs to the common area? Those costs will transfer to a buyer if not settled in advance.
Many agents have little or no experience with condos and townhomes. Rick Michels is a Realtor in Dallas TX and a Certified Condominium Specialist with experience working with buyers and sellers. Call anytime if you are thinking about buying or selling or if you have questions about properties for sale in the Dallas TX area.
Condos vs Townhomes
A condo is a type of legal ownership. A home owner owns a separate interest in an individual unit plus a proportional interest in the common area of the development. Generally, the unit owners own, maintain and insure the living space inside their home and the association takes care of the rest of the complex including exterior walls, roof, pool, etc. The specific ownership elements are defined in the condo documents and should be reviewed by a buyer prior to closing.
Townhome / Townhouse:
Townhome is an architectural style with multiple floors and common walls but no neighbors above or below. They can be owned as condos or as individually owned structures including the land below them. If individually owned, the owners are generally responsible for their specific building insurance. An owners association may be responsible for common areas (landscaping, driveways, etc). HOA dues are usually lower for townhomes vs similarly priced condos.
Homeowners association bylaws for your Dallas condo or townhome generally cover the rules of the HOA more than the rules of the individual home owners. The bylaws define the powers, duties, election and meetings of the board of directors. They describe the association's powers to enforce rules and impose fines upon owners.
The HOA Declaration, sometimes called Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&R), provides additional rules of the association and of the individual owners. It describes HOA dues, reserve funds and the HOA's ability to borrow money.
Maintenance and repair obligations are also included. This is where owners can find out if they, or the association, are responsible for windows, doors, balconies, etc. of the condominium or townhome. The document includes restrictions on pets, vehicles, noise, leasing of the units and more.
It is critical for condo and townhome buyers to review a Resale Certificate before closing on their purchase. This document shows current information provided by the HOA manager. Some of the details included are:
Monthly HOA dues
Special assessment (any additional dues)
Budgeted capital expenses
Capital expense reserve balance
Legal judgements or pending suits against the HOA
Insurance and Financial Statements:
Condo and townhome buyers should review insurance certificates of the HOA to make sure the complex has adequate liability and hazard insurance on the common areas and structures. The individual owners will buy their own separate coverage. For condo owners that usually includes their unit interior only.
Your Realtor should make sure you receive and review all of these documents within the timeframe allowed.