Clearwater Florida condos are popular with people around the U.S. and other parts of the world for several reasons.
One of the main reasons is where Clearwater is located. Not only is the weather good but you are near the Gulf and all the attractions in St. Petersburg and Tampa.
Pinellas County, where Clearwater is located, is surrounded by water. The Gulf of Mexico is along the west coast of the county and Tampa Bay is along its east coast with Tampa just a short drive away. Any part of Clearwater is no more than 30 minutes to a beach. And having the Gulf of Mexico so close means that the temperature is not as hot in the summer and a little warmer in the winter than it is for cities more inland, like Orlando.
The Tampa International Airport (which is one of the easier airports to travel in and out of) is only about 30 minutes away and attractions like Busch Gardens in Tampa or any of the sports and entertainment venues are also very close. There are also other attractions within driving distance, like Disney World and Epcot Center (about 90 minutes) and the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino (about 60 minutes).
The next reason that Clearwater Florida condos are so popular is that Clearwater and the surrounding cities have a smaller town feel while still being a short distance from a major city, Tampa. Yet you can still find lots to do in Clearwater and the surrounding areas including some great places to eat, malls and other attractions for adults or families and you won’t have to fight the heavy traffic that you’ll find in the larger cities like Orlando or Miami.
At the point you begin to look at listings for condos you’ll probably notice that they fall in 3 categories. I’ve found that in different areas these terms mean different things so I’d like to clarify for you what they mean here.
The distinction in this area between condos, townhouses and villas are:
Condos – are normally a one-story unit in a multi-story building with other condos on one or more sides and also above and/or below.
Townhouses – are normally 2 or more stories with other townhouses on one or more sides.
Villas – are normally one-story units with other villas attached on one or more sides but none above or below which distinguishes them from condos.
For condos you normally own the airspace of your unit (from the walls in) plus a portion of the common areas of the complex. In some cases the land the complex is on is not owned by the condo owners or association but is leased by the person or entity that owns in. In this case you will have to pay a monthly “land lease” fee. Most of the time these land leases are for very long periods of time (such as 75 years) but even so, some lenders will not give loans for a condo in a complex where there is a land lease involved.
There is more variation with villas and townhouse, but usually you own the whole structure and the land it sits on. Often you will also have ownership of the common areas but that can vary.
For nearly all condo communities and many townhouse and villa communities the governing of the community is done by an association. They often hire a management company to collect fees, work out a budget and make sure that any maintenance is done in the community and that the property insurance is purchased. One thing that is very important to do when considering a purchase of any of these types of property is to determine what your monthly fees will be and what they cover.
The association also can set and enforce the rules for that complex. These can include parking restrictions, pet regulations, how to authorize changes to your unit, etc.
When purchasing, your contract should include a Condominium Association Addendum that gives the right to get a copy of the condominium rules and association financial statements which you will have time to review with a right to cancel if you find something you don’t like (the period is 3 days for a resale unit and 15 days for a new unit).
One additional thing you should be mindful of is whether the complex has any legal or financial troubles that may later affect you. This is especially important for Clearwater Florida condo complexes that were built or were converted into condos during the last few years of the boom period. Due to a larger percentage of owners going into foreclosure in these newer complexes they can be riskier to buy in than more established, older complexes who are in a more stable financial condition. You don’t want to be surprised with a large assessment after you’ve bought.
You can now search the local MLS for Clearwater Florida area condos and get access to numerous other buyer resources at Clearwater Condo Search and Resources.
Ron Nedd is an accredited Buyer’s Agent with the National Association of Realtors and provides information and online tools for buyers of condos and homes at his site http://searchclearwaterhomes.com.