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Columns : Let's Talk Real Estate - James Sarles Last Updated: Feb 6, 2017 - 2:32:04 PM

By James Sarles
Oct 3, 2009 - 9:12:52 AM

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I received an e-mail from a reader of Lets Talk Real Estate who wanted information about condominiums or condos. As condos have always been very popular in Grand Bahama I thought this was a very good topic that other readers might be interested in as well. The condo market like all property on the Island, throughout the Carribbean and the US has taken a beating since the economic melt down from a year ago. Our values are down approximately 15% and the number of transactions are down 50% market wide. Our local economy is in very rough shape with unemployment numbers somewhere between 13 and 15%. But in spite of these numbers the market seems to be turning as tourism looks like it will experience a much needed increase with West Jet service from Toronto, new flights from New York, direct flights from Charlotte, direct flights from Atlanta and the Club Grand Bahama promotion which will all have an economic trickle down to the local economy. Buyers from around the world are finally stepping off the sidelines and looking at investing in the Caribbean, Bermuda and the Bahamas again as the world wide recession appears to over and everyone is talking about economic recovery. Coldwell Banker the international real estate company that I am part of with over 3700 offices in over 47 countries around the world, including offices on 16 islands throughout the Caribbean says that the trend is the same throughout the world. Lets hope that West Jet, the direct flights the new bridge, Pre-Clearance at a new Private FBO, the new Cruise Port, Ross University, Club Grand Bahama and hopefully new industry will give Grand Bahama the boost it needs. So if you are in the market for property you should certainly consider a condominium as a potential new home.

Condominium is really a legal term that defines a system of ownership of individual units in a multiunit structure, combined with joint ownership of commonly used property. Condominiums or “condos” as we call them are attractive to homebuyers because they offer freedom from the perpetual burden of maintenance obligations that are associated with single-family homes. Condominiums appeal to the buyer who wants a trouble-free investment, an “easy living” lifestyle. Condos are different than single homes with each having their pros and cons. You give up a bit of privacy at a condo in exchange for having the association take care of all the problems. Condo living is not for everyone but for some it is a perfect option.

When you purchase a condominium, you have individual ownership rights within the boundaries of the walls of your unit. You share ownership of the common property of the condominium development and pay a monthly fee that covers the expense of maintaining the “common element”, which includes roof, plumbing, interior spaces such as lobbies, stairs and elevators, and exterior features such as swimming pools and landscaping. Monthly fees are based on the unit factor, which is calculated in proportion to the value that your individual condo unit has in relation to the total value of all units in the condominium. The monthly maintenance fees can range from $200 a month to $1,500 per month in some of the very high end buildings.

Condominium documents outline the precise boundaries of individual units and the rights and obligations of all parties. Every condominium corporation is different. What is a common element in one may be part of the unit in another. For example, an exterior wall may be part of the common element in one condominium and part of the individual unit in another.

The structure of responsibility for maintenance can vary among condominiums. Examining the condo’s governing documents will tell you which maintenance duties belong to the individual unit owner (you) and which will be handled by the condo corporation.

Most condominium corporations contract out the daily operations of the building to a company or hire staff that is supervised by the condominium’s Board of Directors. Some condo corporations manage the daily building and grounds maintenance within the corporation and are referred to as “self-managed” condos, with resident owners or members of the board carrying out the tasks of operating the condominium complex.

The corporation typically covers the cleaning of common areas and payment of common area utility bills, the maintenance of plumbing, electrical systems that are common to the entire building, and operation of the central hot-water heating and air conditioning systems. They will make repairs to exterior walls and the roof and replace broken windows. They will clean common areas, parking lots and recreational amenities, groom and water the grounds and remove garbage and snow.

Maintenance obligations assigned to individual owners might include upkeep of plumbing, appliances, heating, air conditioning and electrical systems that serve only your unit. If you enjoy exclusive access to your own balcony or patio, you may be required to clean it. And even if the exterior window surfaces are regularly cleaned, you might be expected to wash the windows inside your condo!

Absentee owners may have maintenance requirements that differ from owners living in the building. When purchasing any condominium, the wisest first step is to learn about your rights as an owner and find out what your maintenance obligations will be. Condos were designed to make life a little easier. If you are thinking about a condo or never really thought about buying a condo take the time to talk to condo owners and make sure you ask your real estate agent to include condos on the list of property to look at. Until next week !

Contact James at Coldwell Banker - James Sarles Realty  james@sarlesrealty.com

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Let's Talk Real Estate - James Sarles
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