Clearwater Florida condos are popular with people around the U.S. and other parts of the world for several reasons.
First of all is the location. A lot of people buy a condo here as either a winter/vacation home or future retirement home because of the climate and closeness to so many great areas and activities.
Clearwater Florida is on a peninsula just east of Tampa and is surrounded on 3 sides by Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. This means that no matter where you are in Clearwater you are no more than about 30 minutes from the beaches. 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. The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Tampa is less than an hour’s drive and you can get to Disney World in about and hour and a half.
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. Even with the smaller town feel there are lots of good restaurants and shopping plus activities for all age groups year-round without the horrendous traffic you see in other large cities in Central and South Florida.
When you start looking for condos here you’ll see 3 different types of condo-like property being discussed: condos, townhouses and villas. 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.
For townhouses and villas you will normally own the whole structure and the land it is on.
In all 3 cases there is usually an association that governs the complex and collect monthly fees that can pay for things like exterior maintenance, roof repairs and replacement, insurance on the building and in some cases certain utilities such as water/sewer bills and basic cable. You will need to find out what the complex you are interested in charges for monthly fees and what they include.
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. Some buyers who thought they were getting a great deal didn’t find out until they were hit with a large assessment that they should have done a little more research before taking the plunge and I’d hate to see that happen to you.