buying a home using owner-financing

2 Important Things To Look For As You Shop For A Luxury Condo

by April Perry

By the time you retire, you might not want to spend all of your free time taking care of a big house and an expansive yard. To kick back, relax, and enjoy your golden years, you might be thinking about purchasing a luxury condo on the outskirts of town. But which features will really matter down the road? Here are two important things to look for as you shop for a luxury condo, so that you don't regret your decision:

1: Natural Building Materials

When you start touring new condos, your real estate agent might talk up those brand new space-age building materials. However, since there are trends in construction just like any other industry, those wood-pattern-printed tile floors might look dated before you know it—leading to expensive renovation projects. To fend off depreciation and hassle, look for natural building materials that have a proven track record. Here are a few tips for how to spot less expensive products:

  • Wood: That wainscoting might look like real wood paneling, but underneath the paint, it might be a common building product called MDF, or medium-density fiberboard—which is essentially pressed cardboard. Inspect painted wood surfaces to look for signs of existing damage. If you find chips or scratches, try to determine if the underlying material is real wood, or an imposter. Also, knock on doors to see if they are hollow. Expensive, solid doors will dampen sound, while cheaper versions will echo slightly.
  • Stone: As your real estate agent discusses the countertop and flooring materials, listen for the words "engineered" or "artificial." Those laminate counters might look like real granite, but over time, they might peel or chip, making your apartment look cheap and unkempt.
  • Metal: When you walk through different condos, pay attention to the door hardware, plumbing fixtures, chandeliers, and stair balusters. Is that faucet a trusted, name-brand design, or it is a standard builder's-grade variety? Is that metal real forged iron, or is it painted aluminum? If your real estate agent doesn't have the answers, ask him or her to contact the builder. Rock-solid hardware will stay strong until you decide to change it, while cheap copies might be the source of constant frustration.

As you discuss listings with your real estate agent, don't feel silly being picky. Choosing an upscale home with high-end finishes might help you to spend your time doing what you want, instead of focusing on apartment updates. 

2: A Comfortable Environment

What good is an upscale condo if you don't enjoy your surroundings? As you visit potential condos, try to pay attention to how the environment feels. Do the surroundings blend with your lifestyle? Here are a few things that you should look out for, so that you aren't surprised after you move in:

  • Your Neighbors: Ask condo managers if the complex has age restrictions, and how those regulations are enforced. For example, if you move into an active adult community, Federal HUD regulations state that 80% of the tenants have to be over the age of 55. But what will you do if your next-door neighbors are part of the 20% that have noisy kids? Try to find out as much as you can about your potential neighbors, so that you can relax in your new home.
  • Location: Your condo's remote location might make it feel like a get-a-way now, but will it be annoying to travel into town whenever you want to get a bite to eat? Pay attention to your condo's proximity to local restaurants, recreational activities, and family members, so you don't end up spending all of your time in the car.

By knowing what to look for in a luxury condo, you might be able to fend off future expenses and enjoy your retirement.