Buying A Condo In Your 20’s

Happy one-year home-iversary to me! I can’t believe it has been one whole year since I have closed on my condo. The first few months I moved in I barely had any time to blog. I was stressed, excited, & super busy working, furnishing my home & ya know living my life. Well, here I am one whole year later & I can’t say that too much has changed – other than I have one year of homeowner experience under my belt. I love being busy & although I have not had much time to blog, I have been truly living my best life.

I moved out and bought my condo at age 25 as a single female. I mention that I am a single female (not because I am singe  – I am in a relationship) but because legally speaking, I had to sign Taylor Rascia, Single Female on pretty much every line of the mortgage papers. This really stood out to me in the home buying process. So I did some research following the close. According to the Joint Center For Housing Studies – 1 in every 5 homeowners is a single woman & twice as many unmarried women are buying homes as unmarried men. Single women make up one- third of the growth in real state ownership since 1994.

Homeownership is one of my greatest accomplishments & proudest moments in life. It’s a pretty close run between home ownership & graduating from the DePaul business school. Homeownership teaches you discipline, responsibility, & how to better manage your finances. It challenges you in ways you never thought you would be – like learning how to clean out an HVAC condenser pipe at 2 AM (who knew you could just blow in it to clean out the debris??).

Homeownership can be stressful, rewarding, overwhelming, & exciting all at the same time. I am sharing 5 of my top tips for buying a condo in your 20’s – so you can learn from my experiences. Feel free to leave comments & ask questions or share your experience!

1. Get A Home Warranty

A home warranty – where do I even begin. When my uncle told me about getting a home warranty, I was not enthused. Another monthly payment to add to the pile. And for what? I already have homeowners insurance, isn’t it the same thing? WRONG! A home warranty is SO different than homeowners insurance. A home warranty is a service contract that will provide repair or replacement of system components or appliances in your home. Depending on the plan your purchase this typically includes HVAC, fridge, stove, laundry, water heater, dishwasher, etc. The plan will typically range from $35 – $50 per month (depending on provider). How it works is when an appliance breaks or needs to be looked at your file a claim with your home warranty company & you pay the claim fee (usually between $60 – $85). The home warranty company provides you with a local contractor who will then reach out to you to schedule an appointment. You do not get to pick your contractor. All repairs/replacements (so long as they are covered by your contract) will be covered by your warranty. This typically includes any problems that interferes with the performance with the appliance.

The day I moved into my condo, my air stopped working. It was August 15th & hotter than hell in Chicago. I had my whole family – grandmother & baby cousins included, all moving me in. Thankfully I was able to get in touch with American Home Shield & have someone come out that day & look at my AC. In the time that I have had my home warranty, I have had my AC replaced, furnace replaced, & ice maker all replaced at no additional cost to me.

Even if you are buying a brand new place with brand new appliances, get a home warranty. Life happens! & when you are in your 20’s and buying a condo, coming up with $5k to replace your furnace is not fun.

Pro Tip: negotiate with the seller at close to pay for the first year

2. Invest In Quality Furniture

This one may seem silly, but it’s a choice that I made that I am really happy with. Invest in quality furniture. This is your new home. You have worked hard for it. This is your first step in adulthood. Splurge & invest in quality furniture. Furnish your home in a way that you will be proud of & that reflects your style. Do not fill your home with cheap furniture from IKEA  that will likely need to be replaced in a year. Ultimately, it’s going to end up costing you more time & more money. I know it’s tough to justify & hard to imagine spending thousands more after you just made the biggest purchase of your life. Look into Macy’s or other furniture store credit cards that offer no-interest deals for the first 2 years.

3. Read Condo Rules & Regulations

This is an important one. Seriously, I know through a condo closing the last thing you want to do is read more, however, this one is important. I would even read through the rules & regulations before close. There could be quiet hours or pet restrictions that won’t work for your lifestyle. You also want to make sure you follow protocol for things like contractors or deliveries. I am an offender of both the contractor rules & delivery rules in my building. It’s both embarrassing & frustrating to break the condo association rules, however, you have to remember they are for your protection & comfort as well. You wouldn’t want Johnny next door hammering away hanging up artwork on a Sunday at 8 AM when you’re hung over.

I didn’t know that presenting a certificate of insurance to the condo board was a requirement in order to schedule a service with a contractor. I had never lived in a condo building before so the whole process of getting the contractor to provide me the certificate of insurance, send to the board for approval, & then move forward with your appointment was long & daunting for me. Once you get the hang of it, it’s easy to do & easy to see why it needs to be done to protect your home & the building.

4. Love Where You Live 

Before moving check out the neighborhood & 5 block radius around your place. Visit it during the day & at night.  Map out your closest bus stop, train stop, grocery store, dry cleaners, doctors office, gym – you get the idea. Think about the errands you usually run & your lifestyle. If you don’t have a car, think about how far you are actually willing to walk. 10 minutes in the summer to the grocery store is a lot different than in the winter.

Pro Tip: Check your walk score here!

5. Go To Home Owner Association Meetings

Ok, so I will not lie, condo meetings are not the most exciting outing, however, there’s tons of useful information you won’t want to miss out on. There could be things happening in the neighborhood that you should be aware of – like festivals & street closures. They could be voting on something you care about like bulk wifi or cable. At the very least, read the meeting minutes provided by your property manager.

P.S – This is a very new type of blog post to my blog. I have created a new section on my blog called “The Life” which will house future posts on home decor, lifestyle, recipes, etc. – stay tuned! 🙂

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