Full Time Condominium Living

Are you a Prospect?
By: David F. Daniell

The nature of Condominium Ownership has changed dramatically over the last decade along the coast. As the area develops and more conveniences are available on the Northern Gulf Coast, more and more of us are evaluating the prospect of full time condominium living.

People purchase condominiums in our area for many reasons. Many of you have purchased a condominium hoping to utilize the property as a second home until retirement, and thereafter relocating to the coast.

Sure, full time residency in a condominium may provide 24-hour security, social outlets, tennis, pool, beach services, less time normally dedicated to home maintenance, and a chance to live in a safe and secure environment, but before deciding to adopt a “condominium residency,” the benefits and drawbacks should be weighed based upon your individual circumstances.

1. Living next to neighbors where only walls separate your living areas.
2. Having to use an elevator to retrieve mail or carry groceries from your car.
3. Submission to a Board of Directors.
4. A financial obligation to the common element.
5. Rules! Rules! Rules!
6. Pet inconvenience.

1. Additional free time.
2. Amenities on site.
3. Security.
4. Maintenance responsibilities assumed by the Association.

When considering condominium living, maintenance and the possibility of special assessments should certainly be taken into consideration. Condominium Ownership is based on the concept of “Common Elements” versus “Private Elements.” In addition to the “Private Elements” which are essentially “air rights,” a condominium Owner also owns a share of the Common Elements such as the building structure, parking lot, pools, tennis courts, etc. This permits the maintenance cost to be spread out among the owners as Common Expense.

It is wise to find out all available information concerning an Association’s finances before acquiring a condominium. If managed properly, the Association maintenance fees should match the annual operational cost of the building. Looking further, one should inquire about inspections which may have revealed deficiencies and Common Elements such as roofs, elevators, weatherproofing, etc. Each of these elements must be maintained and replaced over the life of the building. Does the Association maintain adequate reserves and have a plan going forward for restoration and maintenance of these items?

Condominium living is a compromise just like any other activity one may undertake. You may not be suitable for condominium life if:
a. You host late night parties.
b. You drag chairs across hard floors at odd hours of the night.
c. You have a large or barking pet.
d. You own multiple vehicles or commercial vehicles.

Rules, and the equitable enforcement thereof, are absolutely necessary for healthy condominium life. A perspective purchaser should obtain a copy of the Association’s Declaration, Articles of Incorporation, and Rules so that a clear understanding of the Rules is part of the buying process. Attempt to find out everything you can about the Association and how the particular Board of Directors operates. Poorly managed Associations make enjoyment difficult. Once you elect to purchase a condominium for full time residential use, remember that you have agreed to become a Member of the Association and abide by the Rules established by the Board of Directors. One must also be mindful that, as a Member of the Association, you are jointly responsible with your
neighbors for funding the maintenance of the Common Element for the good of all of the Membership.

Condominium life can be very rewarding. However, a little research sometimes can make the difference between a good and bad experience.


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