Real Estate Advice: 6 Condo Inspection Red Flags To Watch Out For

by Mario Acosta on August 18, 2015

in Buyers, First-Time Home Buyers


Aside from condo association fees, shared walls, and elevators, there’s another thing that separates an apartment from a home – the inspection.

“Purchasing a condo versus a single-family home definitely creates some different items to address,” says real estate agent Ryan Willis of Boxwood Realty.

There are several condo inspections that are much different from a home inspection that you should watch out for. Here are the 6 red flags according to Trulia:

Roof Checks

“Inspectors often only inspect the interior of a condo,” explains broker Keith Thompson of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Carolinas Realty in Charlotte, NC. “This is because the homeowners’ association is responsible for the exterior of the building.”

But don’t let the inspector skip the roof check. You never know if the building’s roofing is already battling weather damage. This issue should then be addressed by the home owner’s association (HOA), and it can hike up assessments to cover the cost of repairs.

A radar for radon

“Some projects have concrete imported from other countries that emits radon gas,” explains Willis. “Because high-rises can be more ‘sealed,’ gas like radon is unable to escape, which can cause real health problems.”

Radon is an odorless, colorless gas that is harmful to the health and is a common risk when you are living in a condo. So before buying a unit, especially if it’s a new building, make sure to do a radon inspection.

Minutes, please

Before closing the deal on a condo, it is important to check for minutes of meetings by the HOA; this should be available to all homeowners.

“The HOA minutes are your most important tool for understanding the workings and condition of the building,” she says. “Make sure you get a full 12 months of meeting minutes. You don’t want to buy in only to realize that there was a major building fail that might need a special assessment after you move in.”

Knock on wood

Check the tile or drywall during inspection since sharing walls, ceilings, and floors is common in condominium buildings.

“Do pay attention to flooring and soundproofing,” advises Bud Clark, a real estate agent with Willis Allen Real Estate in San Diego. “If the condo has hardwood flooring, have your home inspector ensure adequate soundproofing, as hardwood flooring is a known sound conductor, particularly from neighboring units above.”

Don’t forget to check for any water damage as well. “I had one client looking at a condo where there was visible water damage on the ceiling,” says Lee Williams, a certified negotiation expert and real estate agent with Rutenberg, a real estate brokerage firm in New York City. “We had the superintendent give us access to the roof to show the inspector that the problem had been fixed and that there was no new water damage.”

Seek out the HVAC

In condominium buildings, every unit doesn’t necessarily have a HVAC unit, which is why it’s a priority to have it checked by a licensed HVAC inspector, according to Willis.

“This seems like a no-brainer, but in condos sometimes the HVACs can be on the roof or require preapproval or access instructions from the HOA,” he says. “It is best to get this information upfront so the inspection isn’t delayed. The HVAC is typically the highest-priced item to repair.”

Get a lift

Elevators are common in buildings that are more than 2 stories. Just like with HVAC and roofing, the homeowners will foot the bill if there is need for repairs.

“Get your inspector access to the engineering report for the building’s elevator or elevators,” suggests Williams. “The building could have been built 25 years ago and the elevator only has a 30-year life on it per the report, so you need to be aware that to replace that elevator could cost you in the end.”

If you need more advice on buying a condo please contact Mario Acosta.

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Post by Mario Acosta

Mario has written 59 articles.

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