If you are considering purchasing a condominium on Maui for the first time, there are a few things to learn about regarding associations, rules and fees. Here are the top ten questions you should be asking your realtor.

1. Learn about homeowner’s association rules and fees and ask if there are any current assessments in place or planned for the future.

Nobody wants to pay an “extra” fee every month for condo ownership. Though amounts can vary widely, association fees are virtually unavoidable because these fees cover maintenance and repairs on the property. Association bylaws typically have provisions to also cover unexpected repairs, authorizing a special assessment, which is a one-time charge to each homeowner, to cover the cost. Ask if any special assessments are planned or if there are any budget of planned increases in the monthly maintenance fee.

Complexes can bring many people together on little real estate. Most find rules for noise, pets, construction, and upkeep very helpful in keeping a peaceful community.

2. Make sure lender’s requirements are met. Will this condo qualify?

Certain lenders may place loan requirements to try and ensure a property will hold its value over time. For a condo, this could mean a higher percentage of owner-occupancy vs. vacation rentals. If you are looking at your condo as an investment, these restrictions could be very important.

3. The rules may be different if you are purchasing as an investor. Ask about the rental laws and regulations.

Zoning, and properties themselves, can vary in the length of rental period required, from short-term vacation rentals to a minimum stay that makes it practical only for long-term rentals. If you intend to use a condo as a vacation rental, make sure it is allowed before making an offer.

4. Make sure all improvements are permitted. Did the condo association approve of the recent remodel?

It’s hard to hide major construction, but not uncommon for condo owners to skip the permit or approval process for smaller jobs. Look at what is disclosed as an upgrade or improvement and check that the owner followed proper procedures.

5. Is there a washer and dryer in this unit?

Even if there is not a washer/dryer in the unit, you may be able to put one in. It is a good idea to check ahead, as some buildings do not have adequate plumbing or electrical.

6. What about Fido?

Investment properties that allow pets are in the minority. Ask your realtor to screen out properties that do not allow your type of furry family member. If you do view a pet-friendly complex, find out if there are restrictions on size, weight or breed.

7. Does this condo come with parking?

Don’t assume parking is included just because there is a parking lot. Ask if parking comes with the unit. Is it assigned, is it covered? How many stalls can you use? If it is first come first served, how many stalls total are there.

8. Is there guest parking?

Depending on where the condo is located, and how busy your social life is, guest parking could be critical. Find out how much guest parking is available and how far away it is from the unit, plus any restrictions that may apply.

9. Does the building have central air conditioning?

No matter what you hear about cooling trade winds, air conditioning is important during the summer, especially in South and West Maui. Find out the age of the central AC or in-condo AC units and who takes care them. If there is no AC, can units be installed?

10. What are the “house rules”

One thing new condo owners may need to adjust to is the fact that most upgrades and improvements will need to be approved by the association ahead of time. Even adding elements like drapes, if they are visible from the outside, may fall under guidelines. Make sure you read the association’s house rules and ask questions. If there are rules you can’t live with, it likely is not be the right property for you.

Our real estate division would be happy to help find a condo that meets your particular needs.