A conversion is what a condo is known when it has been converted from rental apartments to owned apartments. These can be slightly cheaper than condominiums, but they should also be investigated carefully to make sure that the lower price will be worth it. A careful examination of the quality of the renovation and the age of the building and its systems is in order to ascertain that the resale value will be worth your time and money.
A condo conversion can be done well enough that there is no real difference in quality from a conversion and a unit built for sale. However, many conversions are no more than a new paint job and don't feature the amenities that even the most basic built-for-sale condominiums feature, like decent-sized kitchens and washer/dryer hookups. Make sure that you know of all the amenities offered with the condo and all the amenities that are usually offered in similar condos.
Always have an inspection done on the building that you consider buying from. There are some conversions that look okay on a cursory inspection, but that a qualified inspector can find problems with. Owners who want to make money off of their ex-motel aren't going to clue you in on the lack of washrooms for the space you're buying or the fact that the paint covers cracks in the plaster. A good inspector can alert you to things that can be major potential problems
You will want to know how old the building is. A new conversion, even if done well, can disguise an older building that may be on its last legs in a number of areas. You should find out the age and general repair of things like the roof, the foundation, support structures, electrical, plumbing, heating/cooling systems, and sewage systems. If a condo conversion has been done on a fairly new building, it's usually a better bet than a comparable older building simply due to the lifespan of the various systems that make it up.
Older vs. newer also comes into play in terms of building codes. If your developer hasn't seen that the building is upgraded to present codes, you may be in for problems down the road. In some cases, you may even be held responsible for bringing your unit up to code if you want to sell or rent. Your next assessment can also hold unpleasant surprises if you aren't careful.
If the conversion is from a motel or a rent-dedicated building, check the layout. Renters are more likely to overlook things that owners will find intolerable. Layouts meant for housing the greatest amount of people for the least amount of time do not tend to make for comfortable home arrangements. If there has been a conversion, has it taken this into account? What about the new carpets and fixtures? Have they been chosen with an eye to modern standards or are they the cheapest of the cheap? Or, have there been no improvements at all?
Look at the resale value of the unit. If the unit is not converted with a modern renovation, it may not be attractive to buyers. You may be buying for less, but you're hoping to sell for more; will the condo's present layout, repair and fixtures support this? Will you be able to make a profit in five or ten years?
Condo conversions are often targeted by first-time home buyers due to their relative lower cost than a built-for-sale condo unit. However, make sure that you have an inspection done and critically examine the unit for livability and resale value. A conversion could be a terrific deal, or it could make you wish you had never entered the condo market. Careful inspections can be the difference between a happy homeowner and one beset with falling value on their property.
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