Los Angeles, California, is undeniably one of the most attractive destinations for people who appreciate the finer things in life. The diversity of LA’s neighborhoods and landscapes is unmatched, and the sun shines (almost) every day.
While buying a single-family home might be out of reach for some, condos are an excellent alternative. Condos are more affordable, the upkeep is significantly less, and you’ll be living in a community with many shared amenities to enjoy.
However, like any investment, buying a condo has pros and cons. But ultimately, condo ownership has many benefits that tip the balance in favor.
If you’re considering shopping for an LA condo, we have some tips and considerations to get you thinking about the right things.
Is a Condo a Good Financial Investment?
Home prices are higher in Los Angeles than just about any other city in America, making condos a good alternative. If it’s in a good neighborhood and close to amenities, the resale value should hold, and these are the primary features you’ll want to look for.
A condo doesn’t have to be in a trendy neighborhood to be a good investment. Buying in outlying communities, like Whittier, Altadena, or Sunland, might afford you more bang for your buck. It all depends on your lifestyle, how much driving you want to do, and your budget.
Condos are also an excellent investment if you’re looking to build a rental portfolio. Rentals are in high demand, so it’s something to consider, even if you initially purchase the condo as your primary residence.
Consider Your Lifestyle
Your lifestyle, work, and recreation are all considerations when looking for condos. Condos offer amenities that many single-family homes do not, such as rooftop decks, fitness centers, pools, tennis courts, and more. However, those amenities do come with a price. Monthly HOA fees cover upkeep for these and other aspects of building and property maintenance, like landscaping, waste management, repairs, and security. Fees vary significantly depending on the property and its amenities but are usually a few hundred monthly.
Find a Realtor Who Knows the Condo Landscape
If you’re considering buying a condo, working with a realtor who knows the condo landscape in Los Angeles is essential. Navigating the condo market can be challenging for even the most experienced realtor. In your search, consider the condo’s potential resale value, what insurance will cost you, and how the community is managed.
A seasoned realtor is there to ensure you get the property you want and will help you find the best value for your budget. Ideally, you want a condo that fits your vision but also aligns with your finances—and you can have both. A savvy realtor will give you an insider edge on LA’s current condo scene, which can be a stress-relieving game-changer when so many options exist.
What Amenities Do You Want?
Condos often offer unique amenities that most single-family homes simply don’t have. So, think about which perks—like a gym, pool, or EV charging stations—are must-haves for your condo living experience. Common amenities in condos include a fitness center, pool, rooftop deck, lounge, and parking.
Keep in mind that some communities have higher HOA fees simply because their amenities are top-notch. Zeroing in on your must-haves and deal-breakers can help you narrow your choices without having to compromise.
Finding an FHA-Approved Condo
If you’re buying a condo and want to do it with an FHA loan, remember that the complex must be on the FHA-approved list to qualify. While an FHA loan is a bit more challenging to obtain for condos, it can be worth it. FHA loans have lower interest rates, down payments, and a lower credit score threshold than a traditional mortgage. However, if you do not intend to occupy the unit, such as if you are purchasing the condo as a rental property, FHA loans will not work for you.
Research the Property Management Company
Once you’ve found a condo you love, take some time to research the property management company that runs it. A good property manager can make or break your investment—and your experience while you are part of that community. The property management company oversees all maintenance and repairs and will be the people you, as an owner, liaise with in case of any issues. A reliable property management company can make condo living a breeze, while a negligent one can be frustrating.
Review Association Fees and Regulations
Check the HOA association fees before you buy. Fees vary significantly from one property to another and can become quite substantial. Additionally, review the rules and restrictions imposed by the HOA to ensure your lifestyle meshes with community guidelines. Issues regarding pet ownership, no-smoke zones, outdoor barbeques, guest parking, and quiet hours are just a few examples.
Ask About Special Assessments
Special assessments are additional HOA fees collected from condo owners to cover occasional infrastructure expenses such as roof or window replacements, landscaping, or major upgrades. Sometimes, these fees are necessary and agreed upon by residents, but in some cases, the board can impose them arbitrarily. Ask if any special assessments are expected, their frequency, and the amount you would be asked to contribute.
With a bit of research, patience, and a good realtor, snagging a condo in LA could be a smart move for you. Condos offer excellent value for the buyer and can become an income property for you should you choose to level up your residential game.
An LA condo is much more affordable and will save you on upkeep compared to a house, but it can be a trade-off with less privacy and space. Ultimately, it’s down to your preferences, budget, and future plans. Start making your amenity wish list, visit some neighborhoods to get a feel for what’s possible, and don’t be shy about asking questions like the ones we outlined above.
Belwood Properties is a trusted property management company in Southern California. If you are considering one of our properties, we encourage you to reach out by phone or email. We’d be happy to answer any questions you have.