Tips when buying a condo unit
October 9, 2008
Here is a list of things you should consider when buying a condominium unit. Price is definitely a major issue but should not be the only issue.
After living in two condos before, one in Makati and another at The Fort, I have identified seven (7) basic but important things that must be considered before purchasing a condo unit.
Feel free to add your inputs to the list!
7 Things to Consider when Buying a Condo Unit
1. Location, location, location
When buying real estate, condos included, a major factor that should always be on top of the list is location, location, location. The location of the condo greatly affects the potential of price appreciation. The Makati area, for instance, being the business center of the Philippines, has always proven to be a good investment area. At The Fort, however, prices of real estate are skyrocketing and have not peaked yet.
A friend who owns a condo near McKinley Street inside The Fort Global City, for example, paid around P2.5 million when he bought the unit last year. Now, the going rate for the same unit is P3.5 million, a 40% increase just after a year.
The location also determines accessibility to needed comforts and conveniences. If you value convenience, get a condo unit that has easy access to restaurants, schools, banks, or hospitals.
Our previous condo in Buendia, Makati is located strategically with access to two restaurants, three fastfood chains, and four convenience stores. “Access” here means ability to go to those places by foot in under 10 minutes from the unit. Most of these establishments are open 24/7 which means I had no problem if I needed to grab a bite at 2 a.m. The downside, however, is the traffic and noise because during the day, the area is busy with lots of people.
Our new place at The Fort, however, is quiet but away from all the conveniences. The nearest McDonald’s outlet is six blocks away and if I need to buy shampoo or tissue, I’ll have to run to Market! Market! which is a 10-minute drive.
2. Reputation of the Developer
For condos that are still on pre-selling stage, the reputation of the developer matters a lot because it ultimately determines whether the condo building will actually be completed. There were previous cases of condo projects that halted construction because the developer ran out of money. In such a case, it would be difficult to get your money back.
For condos that are already ready for occupancy (RFO), the reputation of the developer can tell you if they are committed to work with the condominium homeowners’ association to help manage the condo. Condo management means installation of effective security measures, strict implementation of condo rules, and proper maintenance of the building.
Backed by several years of experience in the industry, Ayala Land, Robinsons Land, Federal Land, Century Properties and DMCI, among others, have proven themselves to be reliable condo and real estate developers.
If you think condo units are expensive, wait till you hear how much parking spaces cost. In our Makati condo, one 9-square-meter parking slot costs between P400,000 to P500,000. Yup, around half a million pesos. If you can afford it and if you really need to have one, get it. But if you think it’s too much, renting a parking slot is the next best thing. Rental rates normally range from P3,000 to P10,000 a month. Inquire with your condo’s property office how to rent one or ask other condo residents if they are renting out their unused parking slot.
In a condo, you share everything with other residents. That includes the noise as well. When our new neighbors upstairs moved in, I could hear their footsteps almost everyday during the first week. One time I opened the windows, I was greeted by the screaming blast of karaoke from the residents below us. One Sunday morning, I was woken by the sound of the drilling machine in the unit next door.
The good thing, however, is that you can complain these noises to the guards on duty but, honestly, it gets tiring if you’ll have to do it every time. If they won’t stop even after you’ve complained, you’ll just have to live with the noise. It only goes to show that living in a condo does not necessarily mean you can get away from noisy or loud people.
5. Amenities and Population Density
A condo may be expensive because of the amenities it offers. Normal amenities include swimming pool, gym, children’s playground, function room, and the like. Assess whether the price you are paying equal the value of the amenities to you.
Population density refers to the number of people per unit area of space available. In a condo, this translates to the number of residents sharing the swimming pool, gym, playground, function room, or elevators.
Of course, the more residents a condo has, the less space is available to you. For example, our swimming pool at The Fort can comfortably accommodate only eight people. Put some more and the pool will look like a can of sardines. It also has three elevators and normally I wait 2-3 minutes before I can get on one. Two of the elevators broke down one day and I had to wait more than 15 minutes because the only working elevator stopped at every floor.
In short, the more people living in a condo, the more inconvenient it gets because you will have to share the amenities with more people.
6. Association Dues
Living in a condo means paying an additional expense every month: the association dues. This represents your contribution to the shared costs incurred by all condo owners, such as electricity in common areas, water used to water plants and for the swimming pool, and wages of security guards, janitors, and maintenance workers. This is usually a fixed amount multiplied by the total floor area of your unit AND parking slot, if you have one.
Our monthly due at our Makati condo was P40.00 per floor area while at The Fort, it is P55.00 per floor area. Make sure you pay these association dues on time because like credit cards, the penalty interest rate for late payment ranges from 1-4% per month. That is a hefty price to pay for living in a condo.
7. Rules and Regulations
As a resident, you are bound by rules and regulations applicable to all who live in the condo building. Some condominiums, for example, totally disallow pets and animals of all kinds. There are condos that forbid tearing down a part of your unit or changing the color of your wall. Some condos allow residents to use the swimming pool or common area up to a certain time only. Parties inside residents’ units are allowed but normally have to end before 10 or 11 p.m. Know your condo rules prior to buying so you won’t be surprised by the regulations once you have moved in.
If you’re looking to buy a condo, don’t be concerned with price alone. Several things ought to be considered so you won’t feel shortchanged or disappointed with your purchase. The list above is not exhaustive but I hope it gave you an idea on what to look for in a condo.
Happy condo living!
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