When buying a Massachusetts condominium you must keep in mind you are buying a piece of a whole. Your are deeded your actual condominium unit as well as a percentage ownership in the entire condominium project.
You will see right in your deed you have a common percentage of X%.
There is a difference between owning a Massachusetts condominium condo versus a Massachusetts single family home. The biggest thing to remember is as an individual you fully own from inside stud to inside stud of the inner perimeter of your condominium unit. Meaning you own the wallboard but not the inside studs of the interior walls.
Everything outside of that is part of a shared common ownership with others in your condo community
Common Ownership of a Massachusetts Condominium
Common ownership, is usually areas that the individuals use in common. It also means you have a financial stake in maintaining and repairing those common areas. Some common areas are:
- Hallways and Entrances
- Roofs and siding
- Parking lots, driveways and roads
- The lawn
- Garden beds
- Amenities like pool and tennis courts
- There is much more, but any area that can be used by all is typically considered a common area
Every condo complex is different it is important to know what your ownership includes. Parking spots can either be owned individually (deeded with the unit) or assigned (owned by the association).
Most condominium complexes require a unit owner to be responsible for all exterior doors and windows, while some don’t.
There can also be exclusive common areas such as decks and patios and even sometimes small yards. Exclusive common are meant to be used and enjoyed by one individual but the cost of maintaining the area is shared by all the owners of the condominium complex. All of these questions can be determined by reading the master deed.
When it comes to maintaining or fixing a common or exclusive common area everyone shares in the cost.
Properly run management of a condominium will have a budget to maintain these areas and replace these areas with out asking for the homeowners for a special assessment above and beyond the condo fees.
Pros and cons of owning a Massachusetts condominium:
Home Owner Association or Condominium Fees can vary greatly from one condo complex to another. The variables can be the level of maintenance provided, whether utilities are part of the condo fee, the level of amenities, recent maintenance that was done and paid for etc…
A low condo fee may not be necessarily be a good thing if maintenance has been left undone or if the association is constantly having special assessments to cover costs on a regular basis. Another thing to remember while you do have to write a check for that condo fee every month don’t fool yourself into thinking you will not have monthly maintenance in a single family home.
Condominium Bylaws state the rules and regulations of the complex. Do not make assumption about the ability to own a pet, rent out your condo, install a satellite dish without reviewing the bylaws. Many condominiums have restrictions on pets, they can limit the size, type and number of pets you can own as well as mandate that you cannot install a satellite dish. It is important to know what you can and cannot do before purchasing a condominium.
Lastly, it is important to look at the individual condominium unit as well as the entire complex. You are buying a piece of the whole and you want to make sure the condominium in it’s whole is a viable thriving entity.
Seek the help of an experienced real estate agent when buying a condo to avoid many pitfalls condo buyers run into.
Some Massachusetts Condominium Definitions
- Master Deed– The basic condominium document spelling out the entity ownership and individual ownership.
- Bylaws- The rules and regulations of ownership with-in the condominium association.
- Master Insurance- The insurance policy covering the condominium in entirety.
- HO6 Policy– An individual’s additional policy covering the contents of an individual condominium owner.
- Condex- Though there is no legal term for condex, it is considered a unit that is sold in a duplex as a condominium.
- Other condominium terms you should know
Massachusetts Condominiums for Sale