Wednesday, February 22, 2012

10 Tips for Buying a Condo or Townhouse in Chicago's North Shore

Chicago’s North Shore is known for its stunning, expansive homes rich in character and history.  Yet there are many who move to the North Shore that are seeking something other than the majestic North Shore homes.  Cities such as Deerfield, Winnetka, Northbrook, Highland Park and Glencoe located just north of the metropolis of Chicago offer great neighborhoods, suburban convenience and a vibrant lifestyle which is attractive to a wide variety of people.
Oftentimes, thoughts of the North Shore’s single family homes overshadow the fact that there are a great number of condos and townhouse in the North Shore that offer the ideal living situation for young professionals, small families and even those hoping to retire to a more manageable residence.  Meticulously maintained, renovated condos and townhouses offer the perfect solution!
If you are considering moving to a North Shore condo or townhouse, there are a few things you’ll want to know that may be different from single family home living.  As a North Shore Real Estate agent, it’s my goal to make sure clients are fully prepared for embarking on the North Shore Real Estate market, so I’ve highlighted ten things you’ll want to consider when buying a North Shore condo or townhouse.  Take a look!
1. Length of Stay- Think about how long you're going to stay in one place. Buying a condo or townhouse is no different than buying a single-family home; you need to live there at least a couple of years to recoup closing costs, assuming the property will appreciate.
2. Determine Your Wants - Give some thought to what you want. If you're not interested in the amenities, understand that the condo or townhouses’ price and ongoing monthly association fees will reflect their use regardless of your interest in using the pool or the gym.
3. Shop Around- Visit various townhouse communities and multi-unit buildings so you know what’s available in the North Shore.  You’ll also get a sense of prevailing prices.
4. Request a Market Analysis- Request a market analysis from your North Shore Real Estate agent regarding the selling prices of condos or townhouses in the area. Check the price appreciation on the market analysis to evaluate how quickly they are increasing in value; subtract the selling price from the purchase price and divide by the number of years the property has been held by the previous owner for a ballpark estimate of annual appreciation, if any, in the neighborhood.
5. Get Prequalified for a Mortgage- Just like buying a home, you want to be sure to get prequalified for a mortgage loan. This will give you a great idea of what you’re able to afford and will help you be prepared for a quick condo purchase.
6. Research the Community- Find out if the building has a good reputation. Ask how often repairs and maintenance are required, and how good the soundproofing is between units.
7. Discover Your Amenities- Check out parking, storage, security and other amenities. You’ll want to know every perk that comes with buying the North Shore property!
8. Take Note- Ask to see the minutes from a recent meeting of the home owners association (HOA). Find out what the hot issues are and if members are fighting tooth and nail. You’ll want to be aware of any major issues before moving in.
9. Research Restrictions- Find out how restrictive your HOA is. For instance, some buildings even dictate what sort of holiday lighting you can put up. Request the same information as you would for buying a house. Read the CC&Rs (covenants, conditions and restrictions).
10. Budget in your HOA Fees- Budget in association dues, which are above and beyond your monthly mortgage payment. To assist in long-term financial planning, ask the association whether association fees have increased in recent years. Also estimate monthly maintenance costs that you may be responsible for in addition to the association fees.
I hope these tips are helpful as you consider buying a condo or townhouse in the North Shore!  There are many beautiful condos and townhouses from which to choose, so you’ll be sure to find the one that fits your needs, budget and lifestyle.
Please feel free to contact me today to view some of the available options or to learn more about living on the North Shore.  I look forward to working with you!

Janie Bress
Your North Shore Real Estate Expert

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