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GUIDE TO CONDO BUYING in AJIJIC , Mexico
For our 12 years living in Mexico we have lived in the same condominium. We looked at the unique advantages of location, layout, lake view, price, services and sense of community that anyone considering buying a condominium should consider. We see many homes in our day to day real estate business and have yet to find one that we would trade for our condo. However condominium living is not for everyone.
Condominium is a legal term. Condominiums may be detached, semi-detached, row houses, stack townhouses, duplexes or apartments. The can even be building lots, subdivisions, or mobile home parks. Condo regimes in Ajijic may include any of these.
Whatever the style is, in Ajijic the owner receives a direct deed to their unit unless they choose otherwise or extraneous circumstances require a trust (not the usual).
The grounds, pool and other amenities, referred to as common elements are owned in common with the other owners. Each condo regime has its own bylaws and policies and procedures that owners are expected to respect. Ask to see these documents before you decide to buy.
We ask clients to consider not only what their wants and needs are today, but what will be they will be in the future.
Location was a prime consideration for us. We chose to be on a main artery that leads easily to Guadalajara, Ajijic and Chapala with minimal traffic to contend with. Although we are on the east side of town, we are with in walking distance of shopping, etc. Others choose to be downtown where you can walk easily to everything and may not need a car at all while others prefer to be further out to avoid noise or be on a golf course.
Many of the condominiums in Ajijic are in new developments, so it is and will be a construction site until the complex is completed. There will be trucks coming and going, plus noise and dust. The security may be compromised as many workers come and go throughout the day so that traffic is a challenge to monitor. The condo rules and procedures will not be fully in place and you should be willing to work with the other owners to make your development work for all the residents.
The advantage of buying in a new development is that you may get pre-construction price, plumbing and wiring are up to date and usually underground. You will be able to choose the décor in the kitchen, bath and other rooms to truly make it your own.
Established condominiums should have a reserve fund for unforeseen repairs and upgrades. Is updating an older condo going to end up costing you more that a new one?
The size of the condominium depends on your lifestyle. We have 2 bedrooms so that there is not a lot of room for guests. The price goes up when you have three bedrooms. You have more room although families may move into your complex with children. Some older adults prefer quiet which is difficult to demand of children as they like to play.
In our complex we have single story units, lower and upper units: the upper units having stairs is something to consider as we get older. Are you willing to trade off the stairs for a lake view and a balcony rather than a terrace? Do you have any privacy? Being beside the pool may bring unwanted foot traffic and noise.
Many new condominiums have limited storage space; it is something to negotiate before you build. If you are in an established condo complex you will most likely need permission from the board of directors to make any additions. Is there room? Do the by-laws allow it?
The size of the complex should also be considered. The owners share the homeowners' association expenses. A small complex has fewer owners to share the expenses. Always ask what the fees are and what they include. In our complex everything is covered except electricity and telephone (as these depend on usage). We can lock our door, go on a holiday and know that our unit will be looked after. Interior repairs are handled by our staff and we only pay for parts. What may seem like a high or low fee needs to be studied. Know what you are getting before you buy.
Consider if you will use a pool, fitness room, tennis courts or other amenities; you are paying for these in your fees. Is the pool heated (solar preferred)? If not, it may be cold in the winter. Pools and Jacuzzis require regular maintenance, adding to expenses.
High-rises may offer spectacular views of the lake, but you need to take an elevator to come and go daily or go to the pool. Ground floor units would get around this.
Your pet may be welcome in the condo complex you are considering, although everyone else may have a pooch too! Owners and their pets may not be as considerate as you and your. Not all regimes allow pets. Check before you buy.
Just remember nothing is perfect; if you do your homework and choose wisely you will find something that suits your needs avoiding the necessity of moving again. You become part of a community with all the benefits of friendship and comradeship.
Watch for our future entry that talks about the Jalisco Condominium Act and 2 kinds of regimes in Jalisco that you should know about. Happy home hunting.
 Gray, Douglas A., Condo Buying Made Easy, pg 18