Why Homeownership Will Always Be the American Way

Going back as far as I can remember, there has been this image in my head of the “American Dream”. It involves a modest house in the post WW2 era. It shows a white picket fence, dog running in the yard, father washing the car, mother planting flowers and kids playing out back. Most assuredly this has been singed in my mind from movies, TV and other medium over the years. But what was this image trying to convey? But what does that picture look like now? Has it changed?

Absolutely! The American Dream these days is not what is depicted in that image I just described. I would argue that harkens to a time when a country was finally at peace after a couple of decades of turmoil war and economic ruin. While the exact vision of this has changed in recent decades, the sentiment of the American Dream still rings true today when it comes to homeownership. The fact is homeownership is still very much an American thing and for good reason. Here’s why: 

Stability

Just ask the countless tenants that have been displaced due to landlords selling their homes recently. Without homeownership, you’re inherently at the whims of whoever owns where you live. Some have owned for so long that they may take it for granted but in the past year I have had too many conversations with tenants who’ve gotten “the call”. The landlord is “thinking about selling” which is usually just a way for the landlord to gently tell you what is about to occur. Landlords don’t like to freak out their tenants but use this phrase to plant the seed in their minds. For renters, this can be extremely disruptive not only from a financial and logistical perspective, but from an emotional one. If one has kids in the local school district this can be an especially distressing situation since they will usually want to stay within it. Owning one’s home is a tried and true way to have stability in their life. Some people are less concerned about this than others, but I sleep well knowing that I am the captain of my own ship when it comes to where my family and I live. 

Financial Benefit

There are some naysayers when it comes to the financial upside to owning a home. They claim the cost just isn’t worth it. They love the idea of someone coming to fix things with the house when they go wrong. If the roof starts leaking, they don’t have to worry about it. The landlord will come out and fix it, right? Well yes… eventually I suppose. But how well? How fast? Something that tenants fail to realize is that while the landlord has to fix your roof, they’ve also been paying that landlord’s mortgage for the last 15 years which has reduced the principal on the mortgage. Every month that goes by, the landlord stands to make more and more money in the event they decide to sell. This isn’t even taking into account the idea the home continues to appreciate year over year adding even more value and equity to the pot. I personally love when other people pay my debts and will gladly allow them to do so. I always tell renters, “Nearly everyone in this country pays a mortgage, it’s just a matter of whether it’s theirs or not.”

As American As it Gets

Going back to the days of colonialism and the wild west, Americans have always been about having their own stuff. Many of the colonialist settlers romped across this continent for 200+ years in an effort to find a better life. To find a place they could call their own. Today, this effort is still ongoing. Sure, it looks much different, but the reason homeownership is part of our identify is due to the fact that it is one of the underlying principles that make us American. We want independence and freedom from being told by others how to live (and where to live). To some, having a landlord is still like being under English rule. You may say that’s hyperbole, but I don’t think it’s far off. 

How Can A Realtor Assist You During A Natural Disaster

So last week was quite an event for our region with regards to Ida. In Greater Philadelphia, we saw several tornados which wrought destruction that is super rare for the area. A not so rare (and increasingly common) occurence was the flooding. The remnants of Ida brought with it an enormous amount of property damage and subsequent calls to emergency services and insurance companies. People are still digging out from a total loss of their home, airing out their basements or in some cases trying to find their car which floated away. Today I will talk about how real estate agents can be useful in times like these.

When I settle on a property with my buyers I nearly always tell them the following: “Congratulations! Just so you know, this isn’t the end of the road for us. If you have any questions, concerns, need contractors, etc. I want to be your first call.” The purpose of this statement is to make sure my clients do not feel alone after the homebuying process and that I am always available to assist either directly or through my network of contacts. This holds true even during the worst of natural disasters… the following are a few ways we can help/

Leverage our relationships: This one is the most obvious. Whether it’s contractors or those who provide professional services, the rule is the same. In times of distress, you almost always need someone’s help. Calling someone out of the blue from Google means you could be rolling the dice. Keep in mind that everyone will be calling them since that is how many homeowners find people in the first place. This could lead to slower response time and performance. An added bonus is your agent will have their finger on the pulse of what’s going on all the way to completion of the task at hand. Realtors can also provide context to this person so they know best to help you as quickly as possible. My team makes fun of me because I always say “I gotta guy” and guess what? I usually do! If I don’t, I 100% have someone in my network who knows someone who can help you!

New Finishes/Restoration: If you do suffer a total loss or severe damage there is a high likelihood you will replace what was there. Insurance policies make this possible through their claim process, but keep in mind that the exact thing doesn’t have to go back into the home. As tragic as it is, this scenario will allow you to update things and you should consult with your realtor to keep up to date on market trends. For example, I assume many who suffered a loss will go with predominantly grey finishes. Might not be the best idea at this point. This is blasphemy to some who read that last sentence but grey is starting to be called “flipper grey” which implies run of the mill and perhaps even cheap finishes. Another example is many of my buyers are claiming the granite in homes will need to be “replaced on day one” as it has fallen out of favor with market in many respects. Consult with an agent for the latest and greatest ideas in design and finishes.

Just a Helping Hand: A small community in Fort Washington, PA was devastated by a tornado where many of the homes are now condemned. We know many of the residents there and my real estate team was on the ground within 24 hours assessing the damage and just being there to help with logistics. Agents in these times can assist physically, financially and emotionally. I always tell my team this is a relationship business and these situations are no exception. There is a trauma that occurs when someone’s home is damaged and/or destroyed. People need support…plain and simple.

Insurance Quotes: The best way to avoid an insurance issue is to button up your policy and be absolutely sure that you’re covered just in case. Insurance is super cheap for those one-off events like fire or flood (when you’re not in a flood zone), so it is super important to go through all those scenarios with a skilled agent who has seen at all. Ask your realtor for someone they trust in order to at least shop the rate. Beware though that ot all agents are created equal.

My Biggest Concerns for Sellers Right Now

It’s hardly a secret that sellers have had the run of things recently in the real estate market. Seemingly, sellers can sell without regard to the area, time of year or price point. What if I told you that was a bit of a myth? Sure, there are instances where people pay insane amounts and waive all contingencies in order to secure property. However, I tell my clients all the time “Every market has its limits” and this one is no different. Now, I’m not saying that sellers no longer have leverage in this market. In some markets they most certainly do. But any market is not a monolith either locally or nationally. There are really hot areas and some where it is still 2017. The way some sellers approach this market has me concerned…here’s why:

Certain Markets Will Soften Sooner than Others – As I mentioned above, no market is the same across the board. Some areas will ride out any downturn due to its geography, schools, local businesses and larger community. These are larger metro areas with diversified economies. Others are going to be the first to see the effects of a cooling market. (This trend is already happening in certain sectors) Keep in mind, some analysts were watching the markets of FL, AZ, TX & OR in order to anticipate softening in more established markets such as the ATL-BOS 95 corridor. This is smart. A good tell-tale sign of whether you’re sitting in one of those markets, either in a small neighborhood or even an entire city/state, is if home prices and general real estate activities have gone bonkers. The old saying, “the higher they go, the harder they fall” is something to keep in mind. If a market is way up in a short amount of time, then logic (and history) dictate it will descend from grace… it’s just a matter of how far.

Waiting Too Long – Many sellers I talk to have said “I don’t think we’re at the top yet.” Really? What’s your reasoning? The country at large is in year 12 of its longest economic expansion. I’m not saying that we are on the brink of collapse or another housing bubble burst is imminent, however the economy will most surely correct at some point. The difference between waiting and acting could be several thousand dollars up to tens of thousands. My broker often states, “Pigs get fed, hogs get slaughtered.” I think this is good advice. The idea of predicting exactly where they are in an housing cycle is usually a fool’s errand. See 2008 as reference. Many thought continued growth was inevitable until it wasn’t. If you need to sell in the next 12-18 months, my advice is get that process started in case there is a more acute change in the market. Making repairs (contractors are really backed up), consulting with a realtor and keeping an ongoing discussion with professionals who are watching the market is a good idea.

Overpricing Their Homes – I can show everyone reading this article in a matter of minutes that you can absolutely overprice your home in this market. A startling tidbit of real estate is when you do, you usually end up with less money at settlement. Buyers can be quirky and in this market, I’ve had them walk into a house and say “I’m gonna find out what’s wrong with this house because it should already be sold.” That house was on the market for 12 days in a really desirable market. This can be seen as an eternity in 2021. That house ended up selling 30 days later for less than market price because there was no bidding war. The buyer was able to inspect and negotiated inspection repairs. Ouch. The correct strategy in my humble opinion in many cases is to list at market and allow a bidding war to float the price up. This takes advantage of the buyer demand and gets their competitive juices flowing which can translate to waived inspections and appraisals. This strategy is also a good way to ride out any softening market. One last tip is keeping in mind the $25,000 increments for pricing. What this means is don’t list your home at $426,000. List it at $425,000. Lenders often tell their borrowers they can search up to a maximum of such and such a number. Often it is to the tune of $400,000, $425,000, $450,000, etc. In the above example, anyone who has a max buying range of $425,000 won’t see the house if they’re sticking to their filters.

After all this, I must remind everyone reading this article that buyer demand is still strong, interest rates are low and bidding wars are just occurring. I’m not telling people to hit the panic button by any means. And while no one is in agreement about when the market will start slanting back toward buyers, there is almost unanimous agreement that it will at some point (many thinking within the next 12 months). So best to be prepared in case you gotta get out of dodge.

The Most Affordable Ways to Get Your Home Ready For Market

So you wanna sell your house? Great. You don’t want to do anything to prepare it for showings? Not so great. One of the biggest myths right now is that this market will allow for any home to be sold for any price in any condition. Just list it and sell it over the weekend. Right? Not so fast.

The truth is every market has it’s limits and I see people try to test those limits every day. One of my challenges when walking into a listing appointment can be conveying that while buyers right now will settle for certain things such as dated bathrooms, older windows & roof, etc, there are others they simply won’t tolerate… or at the very least… will be more reluctant about. Below I describe some AFFORDABLE ways a home seller can make their home more attractive to the marketplace and capture a net gain. (Make more money)

Paint – This is perhaps the most cost effective way to spruce up your home. The cost of painting the interior (even touching up) can go a long way as buyers assign the quality of your home with the level of attention to detail. Don’t forget, the buyers usually spend anywhere from 15-30 minutes at showings and that is a lot of time to get an impression. A good paint job says to the buyer the home is well maintained and the seller takes pride in their home.

Decluttering – You hear this one all the time. It’s important. Buyers don’t wanna see your stuff. My suggestions to home sellers is the more floor you can make visible, the better. This means at the very least getting things onto shelves, but I usually say, “if it’s not going with you to the new home, you can get rid of it now or when we’re under contract for a lower price.” Bonus tip: this goes for your neighbor as well. If they have stuff visible that you think potential buyers won’t like, offer to get rid of it for them or ask to clear it themselves. It might be just the reason they need to get it done finally.

Professional Cleaning – Much like painting, these details matter. While some homeowners pride themselves in their cleaning abilities, I prefer to have the people who do this all day, every day take care of this aspect. Cleaners are not expensive and often times get stuff clean you never thought needed it. Don’t forget about the windows and do it right before you list!

Landscaping & Mulching – Curb appeal is important not only for showings but for your online photos. Don’t forget a photograph rarely sells a home… it is simply a way to compel buyers to make an appointment to see the home. Make sure you primp not only the interior but the exterior as well.

Handyman – Use your agent to point out the things that they would notice when showing a home and fix it. Most times, these are simple (and cheap) fixes which can avoid sending buyers running for the hills during the showings. All these little defects can really add up and place an impression in the mind of the buyer about the quality of your home.

It goes without saying that every homeowner’s financial situation is different, however it has been my experience that the above tips and tricks really to go a long way in getting top dollar for their home. For now, the idea of considering a bathroom or kitchen rehab prior to listing your home is a thing of the past (but will be a thing again). With the high amount of buyer demand, simple steps can usually get the job done!

As a final note and to repeat myself from previous articles: It can’t be overstated how important consulting your real estate agent can be prior to prepping your home for market. I have seen lots of people unnecessarily spend money on things that are either not needed or even detrimental to the sale of their home. Never forget we are out in the marketplace and we are with buyers when they see homes. We know what they like, what they comment on and what makes them pass on homes. Ask for help, that’s what we’re here for.

The “New Normal” of Real Estate Sales

I’m a realtor. Like any industry behind closed doors, my colleagues and I talk shop about the state of the industry. Not entirely earth-shattering stuff here. However, we have started talking about how things were even just a year ago. How things have changed. How we used to have full inspections, appraisals were rarely an issue, how so many agents had never done a “rent back” agreement and so on.

In fact thinking back to my deals last year, I am not entirely certain many of them would have gotten to settlement in this current real estate environment. Maybe you’ve all seen the video of the guy selling an apple to poke fun at this robust market. We are in unprecedented times for sure. I know this because 40-year agents are saying the market has never seen this, but I remind them we just went through something unprecedented in this country. Rest assured, things will return to some semblance of normal but for now the following are certain things that are commonplace in offers and if your agent is not using them, they should be.

Rent Backs: As I mentioned above, these have really come in handy. Formally called a “Post-Settlement Possession Addendum”, they essentially allow a buyer and seller to settle on the property, but keys aren’t transferred. The seller becomes the tenant and “rents back” from the buyer. These are usually short term (30 days or less), however can be longer. This is appealing to sellers because one of their main worries is where they will go once their home is sold. Furthermore, it releases the seller from having to attach a settlement contingency to their offer on their eventual new home. (I need to sell my house in order to buy yours). Downside is buyers have to wait for possession and might enter into a potentially open-ended landlord role if the docs aren’t written right.

Appraisal Overrides: These have become so commonplace, in certain areas and neighborhoods, you won’t get a second look without them. These were not used nearly as often as even 12 months ago, but they are now all the rage. What this says is the buyer will come with extra cash in the event of a low appraisal. As bidding wars escalate purchase prices, every dollar north risks a chance of the appraiser not finding value. Sellers realize that buyers can just write a number on a sheet of paper in order to get a contract, but they want added assurance the buyer will fulfill that price if needed. This requires the buyer to have extra cash which would normally be designated for costs associated with the move (including closing costs)

Getting Creative with Inspections: Depending on the property, waiving inspections is not as big of a deal as others. A condo which is 3 years old is much different than a 250 year old farmhouse with septic and well water. The “new normal” has forced agents to get creative with this contingency. So on the spectrum you have everything from a full battery of inspections to a complete waiver of them. In between is where the art is and can be the difference between a signed deal and a “sorry, maybe next time.” An example is what’s called an “informational purposes only” inspection. This means the buyer can inspect, but there is a tentative agreement between the parties that there will be no repair requests of the seller. Another scenario is where the buyer agrees to absorb the first $xxxx of repairs discovered by the inspector. This is again a way for sellers to be sure they won’t be nickel and dimed to death by small fixes. In those cases where a seller is gonna demand we waive inspections, I have another trick up my sleeve which allows us to do so, but still inspect. I can’t divulge this to the public as it is one of my competitive edges so contact me for more details. 🙂

Of all the things that are most important in this business right now is the ability to sell and I remind my team of 10 agents of this often. I also remind them that “the confused mind says no” to the point they probably want to hit me, but it is a very old sales truth. Understanding the ins and outs of these tools and convincing sellers (and their agents) that you’re a safe bet is a very large part of an agent’s (and their client’s) success right now.

Financial Freedom Through House Hacking

OK, so let’s put our real estate investment hat on for a few moments. House Hacking. You might’ve heard this term thrown around while talking with your investor buddies or on a podcast. Or maybe you’re a investor and know exactly what this terms means. If you have no earthly idea what I am talking about, read on…. my hope is you can learn something here as I have had multiple clients employ this strategy with favorable results.

So the typical residential real estate investor will purchase a property and either lease it or flip it. Either way, the investor rarely lives in the home for any substantial period of time and usually not at all. Conversely, the typical real estate buyer plans to live in the house. These are your Bob & Nancy Smith’s of the world buying a home on the open market. The real difference here is occupancy. However, what if there was a hybrid option? Someone was to buy an investment and decide to make it their home. How does that work? If they live in the house, then how is it an investment?

Welcome to the Wonderful World of House Hacking. Usually, this investor lives in one part and either rents out bedrooms and/or other units (if it’s a multi-family…duplex, triplex, quadplex). What’s the advantage? Financial and leverage!

If you’re mortgage is $1200 but can rent the other two bedrooms for $500 a month, then your housing costs just dropped to $200 a month. Yes, you read that right. That is far cheaper than any housing expense you could get otherwise. Essentially, the tenants pay your debt and you can live virtually mortgage free if you set it up the right way and make the numbers work for you. I have several clients who have done this or looking for this scenario currently because it makes a ton of financial sense.

The drawback of course is you have to deal with tenants and someone else living with you, but with a little luck you can find terrific people who just need a bedroom. If it’s just one house, you would share common spaces so it’s important the setup is appropriate. But always remember you’re the owner, roommate AND landlord!

If this idea excites you, note there are cases where the owner MAKES money every month because the tenant’s rent covers the mortgage and then some. Put another way, the tenants pay you to live in your own house! Who with a mortgage hasn’t wondered about how their financial situation would change without a housing payment? For the creative and flexible people out there, financial freedom through real estate can be had which frees up your cash to go invest in the stock market, go on vacations, save for college, pay down other debts or …wait for it… buy MORE real estate!

The 3 Promises I Make to All My Clients

Solid Real Estate Advice – There are a lot of realtors out there and a lot of terrific ones. However, like any occupation you have your bad apples. Now this isn’t to say “bad apples” is referring to unethical or criminal types. It simply means there are certain realtor who know more than others. Some have a tendency to wade into areas of real estate their not familiar with and this can be problematic on the counsel they provide their clients. I am not only insanely curious, but I have a very real desire to learn as much as I can when challenges arise. I read constantly, ask a ton of questions and don’t speak out of turn when things get a little murky. Everyone has to start somewhere and am thankful I have good habits and a sponge-like desire of learning…

That being said, there are areas where I will defer until I do get enough knowledge to guide my clients or will forever do so.. For example, I recently referred to another agent a land deal involving a family member and potential development scenarios. While I was excited to tackle this, I knew the best way to fulfill the needs of my client was to give the business to someone who had more experience. I am happy to be a conduit or open up an avenue if needed if it means my client can achieve their real estate goals in the shortest amount of time with the least amount of effort.

Constant Contact – A real criticism of agents in this day and age is the notion of being “forgotten”. Whether they’re selling or buying, the communication style is sporadic at best. As someone who wishes to be “kept in the loop” when dealing with others, I bring this philosophy to real estate. Buying or selling your home is big deal, right? Agents should be in constant communication with their client even if there is nothing new to report. Just a check in or a “no news yet” email is a good idea. I cringe whenever I hear someone say, “I signed the paperwork and then never heard from them. Ugh…

No Pressure – Conversely, one of the tenets of my business is not to be too pushy. Real estate is often a longer process than you see on HGTV. (seriously…those shows are silly at times with how easy they make everything look.) I told my wife when I got into this business that I wanted to have enough where I never have to push people to do something before they’re truly ready. This means if I have to wait another month to list a home (which is another month until I get paid a commission), then so be it. My experience is that the agents who have less going on in terms of sales volume are the ones who are on the pushier side…and I get that, but it simply isn’t the way I operate.

So there you have it… my three main promises. What else are you looking for from a realtor?

6 Reasons Sellers Are Forced to Move, Even When They Don’t Want To

I was recently asked what happens if people in the US just stop moving…like completely. Would that ever happen? This is a great question…is it possible that there would ever be an event which would make housing come to a total stop? Well, I would argue we just had a pretty good test with Covid and the answer is a resounding “NO!”. Last year while everyone was in lockdown and masked up, my team and I sold dozens of homes. This particular question fails to understand the fundamental nature of housing and why a lot people move. Contrary to what you see on HGTV, many people are moving not due to preference, but rather circumstance.

The fact is that sellers will ALWAYS need to sell (short of a zombie apocalypse) and below are the 6 inevitable reasons why:

Death – This one is fairly obvious. When people die, there’s no longer a need for the home unless there are people left behind. But even when there is, often times the remaining party is unable or unwilling to maintain the property either from a maintenance or financial standpoint. If the home is vacant, it’s usually left in a will and the beneficiaries don’t want the home either; forcing a sale.

Divorce – They say over 50% of marriages end in divorce. That’s a lot of homeowners! Much like above, the motivation to sell here is logistical AND financial. The problem is that most married couples buy a home together, but when there is a divorce, one needs to move out. Sometimes, there is a compromise reached between spouses in the spirit of keeping the kids in the home (or school district). This is obviously the most optimal outcome given the circumstances but a home sale (or at least a strong consideration of one) is usually in the mix in these scenarios.

Job Relocation – This scenario brings a lot of homes to market depending on your area due to employees coming and going. Outside of Philadelphia where I am, there are numerous industries including pharma, tech, financial etc, which have people being transferred constantly. If someone is transferred, it is rare they will want to retain the home unless they know it is temporary and will be transferred back at some point. In that case, it can be prudent to rent the home and keep it, but this is a rarity. Even in the cases where they will be moving back, they may just allow the employer sort out all their housing via a relocation company.

Job Loss – Somewhat the same as above, but different because this is almost a purely financial motivator. No job means no income which means no ability to pay that hefty mortgage and deal with the associated costs of owning a home. More people than you might imagine will stay put and default or try to muddle through on credit because if they have no job, their options are fairly limited. They can’t get a loan and they won’t be able to assure a landlord (rental) they can pay for a lease. Another avenue for this homeowner is to attempt a loan modification through their lender.

Medical – Life throws all kinds of things at you. Financial hardship, disability, family issues, substance abuse…you name it I’ve dealt with it. I’ve had people sell their home to put their kid through rehab…someone became paralyzed and need one story living… parents succumb to dementia… These are the unexpected things, but they move real estate and that’s part of the gig of being a realtor.

Babies – This is the only one where it is by choice (hopefully). Babies mean homeowners eventually need more room, a different style of home or eventually have to evaluate their current school districts. A young couple with no children can live in that hi-rise condo in the city, no problem. But once the kiddos arrive, the idea of strollers, groceries and parking becomes the things of nightmares. LOL. Let’s face it, babies change everything, including housing.

So there you have it. For the buyers out there wondering if there would ever be effectively zero homes on the market, take heart that there will always be inventory to some extent.

Radon: The Threat You Barely Know Anything About

Radon. Ring a bell? Think back to when you bought your house. Do you remember paying for a radon inspection? No? OK, let me give you a refresher.

I try not to be an alarmist or use hyperbole when it comes to issues of real estate, but radon is no joke. It is literally the second leading cause of lung cancer behind cigarettes. It’s odorless, tasteless and completely invisible in every way. It doesn’t leave a trail… it’s simply… radon.

What is radon you ask? Well, Websters has it as “a heavy radioactive gaseous element of the group of inert gases formed by disintegration of radium”. Translation? It’s rocks under your house which produce radioactive gases that go into your home and then you and your family (and pets) subsequently breathe it in.

Sounds pretty dire doesn’t it? Well, there is good news which I love giving you since you could be quaking in your boots or rooting through your home office for the radon test you performed when you bought your home.

Radon mitigation (reduction) systems are fairly affordable to install. They go into your basement and below is a handy dandy infographic to show how they are configured.

Radon Mitigation System

Above appears much uglier than the real thing. Usually they are able to make them seem less obtrusive and streamlined. For about $1000-$1500, your air can be cleared of this radioactivity and levels brought below 4 pCl. (The EPA limit)

Any questions, shoot me an email at asksethanything@gmail.com

So You Wanna Buy A Condo?

Buying a condo is much like any other home purchase. However there are some added features that not all agents are aware of when writing up their agreement of sale. Below are some quick tips and unexpected things that can arise when purchasing one of these homes.

Things to think about…

  1. Know that you will have neighbors and yes it can matter who they are. Condos usually offer more compact living arrangements and you’ll be more susceptible to their noise, but also you’ll have to be more aware of your own.
  2. It might be a good idea to knock on a door or two and ask them about their experience and whether they like living there.
  3. Condos are run by boards of residents and run by property management companies. During a buyer’s due diligence period, they receive what’s called a 3407 Cert which is all the documents for association including rules and regulations, declaration, by-laws, board members, budgets etc. Buyers should carefully review to ensure they understand all of this. In PA, the association has to disclose the current business of the board including special assessments or common (monthly)
  4. Buyers should know that condo associations have fees (usually monthly) to maintain the infrastructure and community as a whole. This will be on top of your mortgage

Things to keep an eye out for…

  1. Is the community embroiled in a lawsuit? Usually the lender or title will discover this if you haven’t received your 3407 cert before. This can give the lender pause because if the condo association is being sued for more than their insurance policy will cover, then they see that as a risk since the board will need to assess the residents for the difference.
  2. Make sure you understand what is covered and what isn’t. Many cover all water, gas, sewer, exterior maintenance and landscaping. But sometimes there are amenities which have added fees such as pool, fitness center, parking etc.
  3. It might be a good idea to knock on a door or two and ask the neighbors about their experience and whether they like living there.

As I said, not terribly different from a regular purchase but there are certain things that may come up. A good agent who has experience in condo sales (including hi-rises) can walk you through it. I happen to know one. 😉

Any questions, you know where to find me!