Smart Moves: Condos and condon'ts for urban buyers

Besides the lifestyle advantages of condo ownership, many young professionals, who typically have few tax advantages available to them, look forward to a mortgage interest deduction.
Published: February 8, 2014
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Living in a trendy urban neighborhood is the increasingly common dream of many young professionals who work downtown. They’re drawn to the wealth of amenities that a revitalized city center offers — from quick access to restaurants and clubs to a laid-back commute.

These, along with the autonomy that comes with ownership, are among the reasons more renters in their late 20s to early 30s now hanker to own a city place.

“After you’ve rented for several years, you get very tired of your landlord dictating what you can and can’t do,” said Mark Nash, a real estate expert and author of “1001 Tips for Buying and Selling a Home.”

Besides the lifestyle advantages of condo ownership, many young professionals, who typically have few tax advantages available to them, look forward to a mortgage interest deduction. In addition to these advantages, Nash urges buyers to factor in potential drawbacks before going ahead with a condo purchase.

“The odds are you’ll have to stay in that condo for at least four to five years to get enough appreciation to cover the costs you’ll face when you sell,” he said.

Obviously, the future is hard to predict for people of any age. But as Nash notes, young adults are especially likely to change jobs, go back to school for an advanced degree or enter a new relationship. That means they’re often more transient than older people.

Here are a few pointers for urban condo buyers:

•Choose a city neighborhood that suits your residential side.

Many young professionals who work downtown are in service fields such as law, banking or insurance. In many cases, their offices are housed in the financial district of a city. And the convenience of living very near the office might appeal to them.

But it could be a mistake to buy a unit within the financial district if that part of town feels cold and unwelcoming when the offices are closed.

•Focus on the best condo building in your favorite area.

Tom Early, a real estate broker and past president of the National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents (www.naeba.org), advises urban homebuyers to be “very choosy” about the building they select.

“Either a new or older building could be a good choice for you. But be absolutely sure the building you pick is solidly constructed and well-maintained,” Early said.



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