Downsizing 101: How To Buy The Right Apartment
Once the kids have moved out and started their own families, your house suddenly looks like a burden instead of a home.
The yard work, upkeep and fixing all the little things that seem to go wrong at the same time is getting exhausting. Not to mention, it is also expensive heating a big house full of rooms that you hardly step foot into lately.
It is probably time to downsize and move into an apartment if any of that resonates with you.
Downsizing does require some planning and buying an apartment is different than buying a house. Read on for some tips on how to find the right place for your needs!
Have a house inspector ready
You may think that it isn’t necessary to have an apartment inspected. Yet, it is equally as important as inspecting a house. You’ll still be paying for problems with faulty foundations or radon leaks in a condominium complex as you would in your own house.
Shop around to find the building inspector company in your area that can do a thorough inspection. Buffalo home inspector services are an example of what to look for in an inspection company.
Figure out what you can afford
Once you have your house listed and ready for sale, you should have an idea of what you can spend on your new apartment.
Make sure that you are not going to be swapping one mortgage for another so you can actually save money on the move. Some condos are just as expensive as a single-family home. And even just as big. You may end up with higher payments when you combine a mortgage plus any condo fees that come with buying an apartment.
Having a clear and well defined budget before you start apartment hunting will save you a lot of wasted time looking at places it turns out you can’t actually afford.
Come up with your debt to income ratio as well. This is when you add up all of your monthly expenses. Include your credit card, car loans, student loans or even alimony plus your estimated mortgage. Then divide that by your monthly income. The result is your percentage of debt to income. This will help you understand just how big of a mortgage you can afford.
Be aware of co-ops and condo fees
Whenever you buy an apartment, you buy into the idea that all the building expenses are going to be shared among the residents of the entire building. When something goes wrong, everybody is responsible.
To cover these expenses, many complexes will have condo fees. These fees are like a slush fund that pay out when the roof needs to be redone, the building painted or any other maintenance or repairs.
In addition to that, these fees pay for recurring expenses like the electricity for the lights in common areas, security and landscaping.
You may even have a gym or pool on the grounds and the condo fees pay for you to access these things without needing to charge a fee for residents to use the facilities.
A co-op can complicate things when getting loans for a condo in this type of complex. Instead of owning your apartment, you actually own a share in the entire building. It is complicated to get a mortgage from a bank because if you default it is difficult for them to repossess.
Research the area
You may love the complex that the apartment is in. You may be thrilled with the idea that it is landscaped without you needing to lift a finger. But, venturing outside the apartment should also come into consideration.
Make sure that you have the type of neighborhood that you would want, too. It could be an urban, vibrant area that offers lots of cafes and restaurants, or it could be set on an idyllic golf course with the quiet you are looking for.
The area should suit your lifestyle and offer the types of activities you enjoy. Otherwise, downsizing might end up having a negative impact on your quality of life.
Try to arrange the viewings of the complex at different times. Come during the day to see what the traffic is like and how crowded it may be around. Then come again at night to ensure that it is a safe place that you would feel comfortable walking around at night.
The right apartment plus the right area could be a winning combination that won’t have you miss your bigger home.