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If I'm interested in purchasing a condo, where is a good place to start my search? 
Submitted by Dawn S, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania December 5, 2017
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Centreville, VA

Insider since: 2010

Answered: December 6, 2017

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The best place to start is with a Realtor focus in the OC area. They will have several available listings and will know the broader market to match you up with current or potential future listing that matches what you are looking for. You can find a listing of several of them here.

My brother bought a condo in about 2003. He lets us use it and we visit more often than we would have otherwise. Discovering and enjoying OC more often in the off season has been great. However, there are lots of things to consider when thinking about buying a condo. Here are a few:1. Find a real estate agent who is knowledgeable of the OC market, but remember, unless you setup a relationship with the agent as a buyer-broker, or similar, that agent is working for the seller. Talk to a few agents about your questions and see which ones give you the answers that seem most credible.2. Keep in mind taxes and Homeowners Association (HOA), condo, or similar fees. In some communities, there are multiple levels of fees. Total HOA fees can exceed $500 per month if the property has lots of amenities.3. Keep in mind taxes - There are city and county real estate taxes. The rates are not low, and can add another $500 per month to a mid-range condo.4. Don't forget utilities, In particular, water an sewer can be meaningful assessments and are sometimes paid through the HOA, but are in addition to the normal HOA fees.5. My brother does not rent his condo, but will sometimes let others who we know use it. Even just letting people we know use it increases the wear and tear a fair amount. If you intend to rent, plan on a significant amount of wear and tear and select furnishings (including kitchen equipment) that can take the beating. If you rent, furnish the unit for renters (tougher less costly items) not for yourselves (nicer, but perhaps more fragile items). If you rent through an agent, the commissions to the agency can be a fair percentage of the rent. You will also have cleaning and sometimes condo/parking package fees that you can include in the rent or pass on to the tenant. You likely will not cover all of your costs with rental income. If you are lucky you will cover most of the tax and HOA costs.  Realistically you have 2.5 solid months of rental income, mid June to end of August (of course, that is when you will want to use the place too!). With an agency you may pickup some off-season rentals, but don't count on too much off-season income. Definitely talk to a few rental agencies to get specifics from them about pros, cons, and fees related to renting if that's part of your plan.6. Coldwell Banker (800.633.1000) used to do a 1 or 2 hour course on buying real estate in OC. It covered purchase costs, rental income, and many other topics. We went to it and it was very informative and answered lots of questions.7. THIS IS CRITICAL: Before buying check into the status of major pending maintenance items and the reserve accounts for the condo or HOA. If these accounts are not sufficiently up to date and a major maintenance issue arises with the overall property, you can end up with a large (think $10,000+) special assessment. Most of these assessments in OC have related to either wood rot or railing replacements, but re-roofing, repaving parking, and repainting have also been sources of such special assessments. Such special assessments are more common than you might think, even on newer properties.assessments

8. Two things that are a big deal in any HOA are pets and parking. Be sure you are satisfied with the amount and location of parking. Also be sure you are happy with the policies (and level of enforcement of those policies) for owners and renters bringing pets to the units and common areas.9. Get a sense of how active, inactive, strong, weak, heavy or light handed the HOA board (and management company) is and if it is a style you can live with. You can do this by attending a meeting or reviewing the minutes of their meetings for the past year or so.10. Pay attention to amenities and common areas - you will pay for operating and maintaining all of them in your fees, so get the ones you want, but not too many of the ones you do not want. If you have kids and plan to visit frequently in the off season, having an indoor pool that operates year round is great.11. Buying a furnished unit will save you several thousand dollars per room. Even if you are not thrilled with the furniture, you can change it out over time vice having to furnish an empty place.12. Newer buildings seem to be larger, have more amenities, and larger kitchens. They also have better elevators and are more up to date on building and fire codes, particularly sprinkler systems. Also consider if you prefer a high-rise or low-rise building.13. Insurance - Find out what insurance coverage you will need and what is covered by the HOA's master agreement. Since OC is all in a coastal flood area, buying insurance is probably not as simple as it is for your current residence.14. Maintenance - Like any property there is plenty of maintenance. Most condos require little to no exterior maintenance, but there is still plenty to do on the inside. You will need to either do it yourself and make the trip down to do it, or have someone do it for you for a fee. Pay attention to how old the HVAC and water heating systems are as well as the age and condition of major appliances and flooring.15. Storage - Some condos have a storage closet in their garage or other area for beach equipment and similar, some do not. It is REALLY nice to have one - you may want to consider this when you buy.16. Check with your financial or tax adviser, but generally the costs of owning far outweigh the small tax advantages. Buy because you want to have a place at the beach, not in anticipation of any short term financial gain.Lots to think about, but we love having access to a place at the beach. Good luck with you search!

North Ocean City

Insider since: 2014

Answered: December 7, 2017

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You are not too terribly far away so I would recommend coming down to the beach and taking a 1/2 day or so and just drive around the area. That is what I did first to get a feel if you want bay, beach, north, south etc. it will also give you an idea of your neighbors, for example further north is more high rises and condos.... Further south more hotels where you'll be among more tourist. The southern end/boardwalk area is more congested but yet you can walk to more downtown life verses taking the bus.  Once you narrow a region and type of place you want then see a Realtor. Many places may be "sell by owner" that you drive by as well.

Good luck !! 

Hunt Valley and Ocean City

Insider since: 2010

Answered: December 6, 2017

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I agree with my fellow Insiders, a realtor is a great place to start.  We also used Zillowo look at the areas in OC before we purchased.  You can at least determine what part of OC you want to live in and what fits your lifestyle.  Karl gave you great advice!  I would add to ensure you factor in the Condo or HOA fees to your budget.  Fees and services can vary by building.  Best of luck owning your place at the shore!   

Hanover, PA 17331

Insider since: 2008

Answered: December 5, 2017

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I suggest start looking through Realtor sites and checking reviews to see which one is best for you.

Warrenville, IL

Insider since: 2011

Answered: December 13, 2017

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I would go to and then come visit OC to see what you like. I am always a big fan of physically seeing a place!

Enjoy and good luck!

Johnstown Pa

Insider since: 2009

Answered: December 5, 2017

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Your best place to start is by working with any of Ocean City's great realtors like Coldwell Banker ,  Long and Foster  or Holiday Real Estate  There are more and you can check them out at , but for now, you can check out the websites and get an idea of costs and find a few you like and make appointments to see. 

OC is a great place to vacation and live.  Good luck to you.