When you hear the word condominium, or condo, what do you think of? Most would think of a building such as the one pictured above. But the word condominium actually refers to a legal form of ownership rather than a physical structure. A condominium could take the form of an apartment-like building (as most do), a townhome, or even a group of single-family homes. "Condo" generally refers to an individual unit in this type of development.

Here is the definition that applies from Dictionary.com:

con·do·min·i·um

1. an apartment house, office building, or other multiple-unit complex, the units of which are individually owned, each owner receiving a recordable deed to the individual unit purchased, including the right to sell, mortgage, etc., that unit and sharing in joint ownership of any common grounds, passageways, etc.

2. a unit in such a building.

When you purchase a condo you own the individual unit up to, but generally not including, the walls. The rest of the structure and complex is shared under joint ownership. Maintenance and repair of the shared property is managed by a condominium association, also referred to as a condo-association or unit association. (A condo association could be considered a homeowners’ association, or HOA, but HOA generally applies to developments such as PUD’s, or Planned Unit Developments, that are governed by a homeowners’ association but are not condominiums).

Condominiums are governed by sets of rules called sets of rules called Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions, that vary from one condominium development to another. These rules are outlined in the “condo-docs,” or Declaration of the Condominium. In the state of Florida a prospective purchaser automatically has 15 days to review these documents after signing a contract to purchase a new condo, and 3 days to review them if purchasing a re-sale condo. If the purchaser disagrees with any of the rules he or she can back out of the contract with no penalty.

A key consideration when purchasing a condo are the maintenance fees, also referred to as condo fees. Each owner in the condominium pays a certain amount per month, often calculated according to the size of the unit, to cover maintenance and cleaning of grounds, pools, tennis courts, clubhouses, etc. These fees are payed monthly and are subject to change. Condo fees can range from less than $100 to over $1,000 or more per month at high-end condominiums.

For answers to any specific questions about condos, or any other questions about real estate, please send me a message using the contact form below.