Parent’s Questions about Buying Student Condos & Townhomes at UF
Here we are in March, which is the beginning of the condo season in Gainesville, Florida. Each year, new students come to the University of Florida. Some come here for their first 4 years of college education, but there are others coming for the various post-graduate programs at the University.
As a buyers agent, I like to provide information to students and their parents that help them make the right decisions for buying a condo in Gainesville. So let’s take a look at many of the questions parents have about buying condos for their student. Some of these topics will make you think about what is best for you – as parents and/or as investors in real estate.
How to take “Title” to the property?
- Check with your CPA or tax adviser. How the property is titled will have different effects on your taxes. Some CPAs will advise you to hold the property as “investment” property. Only your tax adviser will know what is best for you.
- Some CPAs may advise you to put your student on the deed and the mortgage. This will help establish a credit rating for your student, and allow the student to claim Florida’s Homestead Exemption for property taxes in Alachua County. If the condo here is your student’s “primary” residence, then Homestead Exemption is available.
- Discuss the age of your student with your tax adviser also, as this will play an important part of how you take title and get a mortgage on the property.
What do the Condo/Association Fees Cover?
- Each community will be different in the dollar amount of the condo association fees or homeowner association fees. Make sure to know what those fees cover.
- Most communities do cover the Buildings Insurance. However, this does NOT cover any damage on the “inside” of your condo unit. It is best described as “from the studs of the walls and in-ward”. Most condo owners can obtain “content insurance” to cover the inside of the unit in addition to the personal belongings in the home/condo.
- Exterior Maintenance may also be part of the association’s fees. The annual budget of any association should have reserves set up to cover when the buildings need to be painted, or the roofs replaced, and even maintenance of the parking lot/asphalt. Some parking lots and roads may be privately owned by the association and not public roads.
- Some communities fees will include Water & Sewer also. Make sure you know if each unit has it’s own meter for water & sewer.
- Make sure that there is no future “SPECIAL Assessment” on the calendar for the association. Over the last year some associations have had Non-Renewals from the Insurance carriers in Florida. Some associations may have had board meetings and/or annual membership meetings to decide how to deal with Insurance issues.
How to Get a Copy of the Condo Docs & Annual Budget?
- Your Realtor can get copies of these Association’s Documents.
- When you make an offer on a unit, the seller must provide access to those documents for your review and approval.
How to Pick the Best Condo ?
- In my opinion, this is all about “Life Style”. Some post graduate students do not want room mates. They prefer peace & quiet, and privacy. This is why a one bedroom/one bath unit is preferred.
- Some parents will choose a condo that will allow their student to have room mates. I always advise my buyers to make sure they have the same number of bathrooms as bedrooms. Most tenants will want a private bathroom.
- With so many different communities to choose from, it’s good to visit the complexes in the evening, or on a football weekend – just to get a feel for the community.
- Some communities will offer superior amenities, such as a 24 Hour Gym, Community Pool, Club House. Some with tennis courts, basketball courts, cable TV, Internet and more. It’s all about the life style your student will want.
- Some communities will qualify for FHA Financing, others won’t. Your Realtor and Your Lender will know.
What about Location?
- Some students may want to be “close” to where they will be on campus.
- The medical students prefer the south side of the University, just because of Location.
- Gainesville has the Regional Transit System (RTS) which is designed with students in mind. All students ride FREE. If bus transportation is a key factor for your student, make sure your condo purchase is on or near a regular bus line.
- Most students have the opportunity for “Parking Passes” for their cars on Campus.
Here are some questions I always have for my Condo buyers.
- Do you want your condo to be on the ground floor?
- Do you prefer a 2-level unit or a Flat one-level floor plan?
- Do you want to climb stairs while carrying groceries?
- Do you want a complex with a community pool?
- Do you need a garage?
- Does your student want to “walk” or “bike” to UF?
- Will you want to be located near a regular bus line?
- How many bedrooms and bathrooms do you want?
- Do you want a condo/town home where the association dues covers “exterior maintenance”?
- What is your target price range?
- How many years to you expect to own the unit?
- When do you need to Move In?
Let’s get started on your search! Please call me or email me. I welcome the opportunity to help you and your student find a great home here while they are at the University of Florida.
Written and Posted By: Chris Bohn, GRI- ABR-ePro– Gainesville FL Real Estate Copyright © 2009 Chris Bohn, RE/MAX Professionals, Inc., is a Florida Realtor® who specializes in Gainesville, FL and communities in Alachua County, FL .