Tips to Find Your Perfect San Diego Condo

Dr. Deena Stacer
Dr. Deena Stacer
Published on December 4, 2017

Condos can be the ideal purchase for San Diego homebuyers who are trying to get into the real estate market on a tight budget or they are a perfect fit for couples who are tired of the large home and want to stay in real estate but don’t want the hassle of the yard any longer. San Diego Condos are often lower priced than most single-family homes, and insurance is less expensive. The ongoing home maintenance on a San Diego condo is much less.

Here are a few tips to help you better understand the homeowner association fees:

  1. Find out what the monthly homeowner association (HOA) fee is, and make sure when you are working with your lender to have them include this monthly fee into qualifying for your house payment. You may qualify for a house payment that shoulds reasonable to your budget, but adding the HOA fee will increase your monthly.
  2. You want to pay attention to the HOA documents during escrow.  Read through the minutes and determine whether there is any litigation that impacts the HOA or your condo, and also to see if there are any proposed HOA fee increases.  Ask the agent who is selling the condo to give you the HOA number so you can all and get the scoop on the property before you fall in love with it and then find out that there are some problems that will keep you from purchasing the condo.
  3. You also want to know if the property can be financed with the type of loan you are going to acquire for the purchase.  For example, some San Diego condos do not allow you to buy in the complex with an FHA or VA loan.  Some even only allow for a cash purchase because the ratio of renters in the complex is too high for a government financing loan to be approved. You will want your lender to make the calls for you on this one.
  4. Look at what the HOA fee includes:  does it include landscaping, community center, paving and care for the sidewalks, and roofs.  If not, does it come from you pocket.

Look beyond the cosmetics:

Cosmetic issues are easily remedied and typically inexpensive to fix. Ignore the following while looking at a San Diego condo for sale:

Wall colors

You will find that each home, whether it is a condo or a single family dwelling is unique.  Paint colors are personal and colors that make a seller happy are not necessarily the colors that make you happy. There are all types of condo floor plans, and you may be lucky enough to see two condos for sale in the same complex to get an idea of how to design one that works for you.  You can always paint the rooms to better fit your lifestyle and personal tastes.  Don’t let colors deter you from putting in an offer if the home fits your needs and budget.

Remember that a dark color may make a room look smaller.  Be sure to measure the room so you know how your furniture will fit. Walls can be transformed relatively inexpensively, with color and wall hangings.  Mirrors are a great way to make a room look brighter, lighter and larger.

The average square footage of a U.S. condo is 1,482 according to the U.S. Census Bureau. San Diego condos range from 772 square feet up to 1300 square feet depending on the complex. If you want to paint before you move, you can always schedule a professional to paint or do what my daughter did when she moved into her first San Diego condo, the family painted the day before the scheduled move occurred.

So remember, when looking for a San Diego condo, ignore the walls – it’s an easy, inexpensive fix that shouldn’t deter you from making an offer, if you like everything else about the condo.

Dark and gloomy is also an easy fix

Even with all my years of viewing San Diego condos, it is fascinating how some people live in the darkest and gloomiest condos. Even with the lack of natural light it is not too expensive to add mirrors and artificial light to the condo so it will lift your mood and make the condo show better for buyers.

Remember, gloom and darkness can also be altered with lighting and the right fixtures. So remember, when looking for a San Diego condo, ignore the gloom, it’s an easy, inexpensive fix that shouldn’t deter you from making an offer if you like everything else about the condo.

Check out the room-by-room lighting guide at Huffington Post and ways to enhance your decorating scheme with lighting at

Look past the seller’s personal stuff, their mess will be gone when you move in. 

You may see dated furniture, collections of books, knick-knacks or other items, family photos and many other personal items that clutter your mind and cause you to  have difficulty seeing how your furniture and belongings will fit.

So remember, when looking for a San Diego condo, do your best to ignore the mess, and picture your furniture in place of their stuff, this shouldn’t deter you from making an offer if you like everything else about the condo. Although it may be challenging,  it will all be gone when you move in. Look beyond the clutter to the basic flow of each room — the “bones” of the home.

The flip side is just as dangerous

While ugly interiors can be distracting, so can gorgeous ones. Stagers are skilled at making homes appear move-in ready and at creating interiors that appeal to a broad range  of homebuyers.

Don’t buy into the fantasy when buying your San Diego Condo

Those Imperial silk draperies will most likely go home with the stager when the home is sold. The same for all the accessories that go into the psychological appeal of the room, the throw pillows, fresh flowers and plants and mirrors and artwork.

Staged rooms also may not be as large as you think they are. Some stagers use smaller-scale furniture to trick the eye into making a room appear bigger. Paint colors are likewise chosen to make homes seem roomier. If in doubt as to whether or not your furniture will fit in the home, measure each room.

The National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents (NAEBA) cautions homebuyers that stagers often use “furniture and wall hangings to cover up or direct a buyer’s attention away from floor damage or wall damage.”

They also remind homebuyers that staged homes are often perceived as being well-maintained homes. Often, this perception is far from reality.

“Many times, staged homes take advantage of the staging to cover up deferred maintenance issues and improper construction and repair issues,” they say in the 2007 report, “How to Not Get Tricked by Staging, and Potentially Save $5,645 when you Buy your Home.

Ignore the home’s staging and perform your due diligence by looking behind wall hangings and under rugs and furniture.

Whether the San Diego condo you tour is a diamond in the rough or staged to perfection, it pays to look beyond the cosmetics to whether the space works for your needs and lifestyle. You will want your real estate agent to help you do all of the proper inspections on the San Diego condo you want to buy. You will want to read with a fine tooth comb the HOA minutes for the last 12 months. You should walk or drive around the complex looking for any type of problems you may need an explanation regarding from the HOA, agent or seller and you want to question neighbors about how the HOA is about maintainance, security and community spirit.

If you are thinking about buying a San Diego condo, and you’d like an agent who is great a helping you negotiate a great price, finding the best deals and guiding you through the questions you need to answer during the transaction, I’d be happy to be your agent of choice.

I’ve been a real estate broker since 2003, and worked as an agent in the 70’s and before I earned my broker’s license.  I have a PHD in psychology, which also helps me help to reduce the stress and fear with my clients when they are in the process of buying or selling a home.

Dr. Deena Stacer
[email protected] (YouTube)
Realty One Group-RB
11440 W Bernardo Center Dr # 100
CA-BRE 00703471
Dr. Deena-The Doctor that Makes House Calls! 



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