Depending on how many times in the past you have bought a home, condo or townhouse there will be a different level of knowledge you’ll have about different aspects of the buying process. This will also depend on what type of properties you have bought in the past vs. what you are buying now.

This article will give you some information about buying a condo, home or townhouse in our local Tampa Bay area including Clearwater Beach that you may or may not know but will be helpful to you.

Flood Insurance

A lot of people are concerned about this because of what they have heard and it is something valid to consider when buying now.

If you will be making a cash purchase you are not required to buy flood insurance so this may not be an issue.  However, when you sell at some point in the future it will come up as an issue for potential buyers.

BUT – you need to know whether or not flood insurance is really an issue.  If a home, condo or townhouse is in a flood zone that doesn’t mean it will have a high flood insurance rate.

First of all, some houses are partially in a flood zone and partially in a non-flood zone.  In some cases, the location of the house itself may be completely in the non-flood zone portion of the property and you may not be required to have flood insurance.  In other cases, there may only be part of the house in the flood zone portion of the property and that might be enough to require flood insurance.

Secondly, if the first floor of the house or townhouse that has living space is up high enough the flood insurance rates may be very inexpensive.  If you’ve ever been in some of the beach areas here you’ve probably seen older, single story ranch houses and newer, 3 story houses with the first floor just garage space.  Those newer homes were built that way because the 2nd story (which is the first floor with any living space) is high enough that it qualifies for very inexpensive flood insurance.  I have a client with a house in New Port Richey that was built like this and when someone buys her house their annual flood insurance will only be $500 a year.

This is information your Realtor should help get for you if you are considering buying a property that is in a flood zone.

Contract Versions

There are basically 2 versions of the Purchase and Sale Agreement.  The As-Is version and the regular version.  Do you know which would be better for you?

You will see many listings that state the property is being sold as-is but is that a good thing or a bad thing for you.

When a home, condo or townhouse is being sold as-is that means that the seller will not do any repairs for items found on a home or termite inspection (although sometimes a seller will be willing to do some repairs but that is up to them).  You have the right to have inspections done within the inspection period stated in the contract and if there is anything that comes up you find to be unsatisfactory you have the right to cancel the contract and get your deposit back.

If the property you are buying is basically in good shape and the repairs that would be needed are ones that you feel confident in handling yourself, or if you feel that the cost to get them done doesn’t outweigh either your desire to purchase that property or the value of the property – this would be acceptable.  If you find that there are more issues than you want to deal with then you can easily cancel and get your deposit back as long as you act within the time frames state in the contract.

When you are making a purchase that is not as-is, you again have the right to do any inspections within the inspection period and then can present a list of repairs you wish to have the seller complete.  As long as the cost for those repairs are within the limit stated in the contract, the seller will have to completed them or, if unable to do so by closing, credit you for the cost of those repairs.  However, you must keep in mind that you cannot cancel the contract and get your deposit back if the cost of needed repairs are within the agreed upon limit and if you find out in the inspection that the roof or A/C will need to be replaced in the next few years and hadn’t realized that when you went to contract – you can’t use that as a reason to cancel.  As long as the roof, A/C, etc. are currently functioning as they should they are not considered an item needing repairs.

So you should consider the above information when you are going to put in an offer.

Getting Financing

Last month there were some major changes in the qualification process for buyer financing.  These changes were made to try to prevent another crisis like the one we had about 8 years ago by making sure that people will not get approved for financing who are not really financially able to make a purchase.  This makes the loan process a little more complicated than previously and it is vitally important that, if you will be getting financing, you work with someone who is experienced and has done the updated training needed to know how to get an approval for you based on these new rules.

If you need to know who you should contact that is fully trained on this, let me know.

Condo Conversions

Some condo complexes were previously apartment complexes that were converted to condos during the mid 2000’s.  Some of these are very nice and worth buying in but some have problems that make a purchase in them a bad choice.

I ran into 2 examples this past year with clients and would not recommend buying in either complex.

In one, my client was trying to sell her condo but as we started working together I found out that a couple years ago a large company bought about 70% of the condos in the complex as a foreclosure bundle and are renting them out.  This not only brought down the value of all the remaining condos but created a situation where anyone who would want to buy a condo in the complex would not be able to get financing.  The other problem is that this company could continue to buy condos and eventually own a large enough percentage to be able to try to convert the complex back to an apartment complex.

In the other situation, my client bought 4 condos in a complex and paid cash about 3 years ago.  Last year he received paperwork from a bank stating that they were planning to foreclose on his units.  This didn’t make any sense since he had no loans on any of the condos and his association fees were all paid up to date.  He found out that almost all of the other owners in the complex had the same thing happening.  This was a complex that converted from apartment to condos in the 2004-2006 period and only sold a small percentage and the rest were still just rental units.

The bank is stating that the developer defaulted on his loan for doing the development of the complex as a condo conversion and they were now going after all the units, but the legality of what they are doing is questionable.  It appears they are trying to do this because there will be a percentage of owners who will not want to or be able to fight this and they will ‘win’ in those instances.  In my client’s case, he had his attorney inform the bank that if they did not stop their actions he would counter-sue them for defamation since they delivered the foreclosure paperwork to his tenants.  They stopped the foreclosure actions on him after that.


There is a lot to know when buying and you should do as much as you can to educate yourself, but make sure you work with a professional who looks out for you and can protect you from situations that you might not be aware of.