2010 Mar 23rd

The Top 10 Questions to Ask When You’re Buying a Hoboken Condo

1.  Is this property in a flood zone?questionmark

If so, you may need extra insurance to get a mortgage.  You can confirm it with City Hall.  Being in a flood zone does not mean that the property necessarily floods.  Just that it is within the bounds of a designated flood zone.

2.  What did the seller pay?

This gives you a pretty good clue to how negotiable they may be.

3.  Is the seller “underwater”?

If he or she is going to have to bring some money to the closing table you should know that going in.

4.  Is the building professionally managed?

If not, who takes care of the finances, maintenance, trash and snow removal?

5.  Are there any special assessments or have there been any in the recent past?

If the building isn’t being run according to its budget or there were physical problems or repairs needed you would want to know.

6.  How much is in reserves?

Enough to run the building and replace items like the roof that have a limited useful life?

7.  What other units sold recently in the building?

Knowing what they sold for will be invaluable information when it comes to pricing yours.

8.  How many tenants are there as opposed to owner occupants?

This may matter for your mortgage but also may give you an indication as to how much the residents care about the upkeep of the building and it’s management.

9.  Are there any lawsuits or arbitration actions pending against the developer?

Pretty obvious that if there are, there must be an underlying problem.  It may be addressed and cured but what’s the cost?

10.  Who lives upstairs?

Unless you’re on the top floor, no matter how well built the building, noise can be an issue.  It doesn’t hurt to know who would be on either side of you, too.

  1. bill

    Isn’t all of Hoboken in a flood zone?

    Also adding to who lives upstairs is you should know who lives down stairs.

    Having some one complain about you all the time for every foot step is almost as bad as dealing with stompers above you.

  2. whynot

    bill – welcome to living in a city! also, not all of the hoboken is in a flood zone – it really just effects you HOA fees. unless you’re really in a FLOOD area.

  3. boken

    3. Is the seller “underwater”?

    If he or she is going to have to bring some money to the closing table you should know that going in.

    How will this affect your bidding?

    In terms of living upstairs, should you knock on the door on top of you?

  4. bill

    Boken – if they are under water you are not only negotiating with the seller but potentially also the bank.

    adds a whole other level of hassle to getting a bid accepted and making it through closing

  5. bz

    Here’s the map of Hoboken Flood Zones (2007): http://whatsupwithhoboken.com/HobokenFloodZones.pdf
    As Lori mentioned that living in the flood zone doesn’t mean your building will be soaked every time it rains. But you do see the flood insurance take a noticeable portion of your condo dues.

  6. Lori

    Bill – not exactly. There are sellers who are ‘underwater’ but they have been making timely mortgage payments. There is no bank involvement if they plan to pay off the full mortgage amount at closing. They will have to bring money to the closing table to do so making them, perhaps, less negotiable than someone selling at a profit. Only if the underwater seller is behind in mortgage payments, has approached his or her lender about it, and is doing a short sale would the bank be involved. Also, a short sale doesn’t mean that this seller couldn’t pay off the mortgage, just that he or she won’t.

  7. bill

    Lori – I did say “potentially”

  8. Craig

    I looked into all of these items except #10. Naturally, that’s the one that’s come back to haunt me. I can’t hear voices or music, but I’ve got stompers upstairs and a constantly barking dog downstairs. At least the wall to the adjoining unit next door is completely soundproof, so no noise there. I did ask if the building was concrete and steel construction, which I was told it is. But apparently, that doesn’t guarantee quiet. I guess if you want no noise at all, you have to buy a detached house.

  9. Tiger

    Re # 10, people change. For me when I moved it noise was not an issue. Fast forward to a few months back, a new tenant moved on, and God! his footsteps are loud, though I live in a concrete building.Fortunately our schedules don’t typically match except maybe for a couple of hours. I wish there is a way to return the favor

  10. Lori

    Yes, Bill. Just wanted to clarify. RE: flood zones – it matters not just with regard to your maintenance fees but also to your lender. If your condo association does not have adequate flood insurance they may not lend. Finally, having lived below noisy neighbors on two different occasions it can be just awful! Those top floor units may require more steps up by can be worth it!

  11. Tiger

    That’s correct Lori. I recently refinanced and it looks like FEMA has increased insurance requirements from 85% to 100%, my condo association were on it, and already authorized additional insurance, but I was running out of time with my refinancing so I ended up buying additional flood insurance, temporarily, until my building flood insurance kicks in and closes the gap.

  12. JC

    RE: noise….I live in brownstone recently renovated into condo’s and I hear a lot! Creeky floors, footsteps, when they drop change on their wood floor, not so much talking unless they are shouting. Anyway, I thought I had bad luck but is this really the norm, especially for non concrete buildings? do condo boards have the 70/30 carpet rule or is that mostly in the city?

    Does anybody have any recommendations on how to insulate WITHOUT lowering the ceiling?


  13. Tiger

    JC, most newer rentals have some sort of carpet rule but I don’t think condos have them. I guess my problem is milder than yours, I only hear the stomping of the guy’s feet. I don’t hear any talking.

    I am grateful I don’t hear any… ummm, how can I put this nicely? ‘bedroom’ noises from any of my neighbors. In my previous rental, I did :-/

    I think your best chances are white noise; some sort of music or AC noise perhaps…

  14. teaorcoffee

    The noise issue is a big one. We had friends who had a gorgeous new construction apartment. Not only could you hear the toilet flushing upstairs, but you could hear what was going into the toilet. It was gross. They were lucky to get out of there pronto without losing any money. It was unbearable.

    On another note, are a lot of Hoboken sellers underwater? I know a decent number of people who would sell if they weren’t underwater, but they are and as such as staying put.

  15. bill

    JC –


    they have done a lot of work in Hoboken blowing in insulation between floors – but its not cheap nor easy

  16. Tiger

    teaorcoffe… yea that’s too much. I think though this is a slightly different problem (bathrooms in particular). I think it has to do with the way bathrooms ‘share’ vent lines? Probably same reason why if your neighbor smokes in their bathroom, you can smell some smoke in yours (again, used to happen in my old rental).

    Currently I don’t hear anything in the bathroom, because that part also has lowered ceilings (I have additional storage + the water heater on top). The only thing I hear is when my next door neighbor start their shower.

    Re: Underwater, yes, there are people underwater in Hoboken. I am not sure I would say ‘a lot’ though. Lori perhaps can provide better insight.

  17. jc

    Thank you Bill, very much. I’m setting up an appointment.

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