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What should you consider when buying a condo hotel unit?

If you're looking for a home in Florida to spend your winters where you don't have to worry about dealing with maintenance or landscaping issues and have easy access to fine dining, spa treatments, a golf course and other amenities, you may be considering a condo hotel.

These have become a popular "lifestyle investment." People can purchase a unit that they live in during their stays and let the hotel open it up to guests when they aren't there. They share the revenue with the hotel operator.

Florida is home to many of these residences. Many, like the Four Seasons Hotel and Residences Fort Lauderdale, are located in some of the state's most prized oceanfront areas.

Not everyone can afford a residence at a Four Seasons property. Whatever your price range, it's essential to do your homework before making a purchase to find a trusted operator.

You should also research the area(s) in which you're looking. If you're going to be renting out the property for a substantial part of the year, make sure you purchase in an area that's a popular tourist and/or business destination and find out the busiest times of the year so that you can maximize your revenue by renting it during those weeks or months.

The revenue split is another important factor. Most condo hotels give owners somewhere between 40% and 60%. If you're offered 70%, it may be a property that doesn't fill up often. You want a property that has an average daily occupancy and average daily rate that makes sense for the property and the area.

As with any residential real estate, you need to make sure that you're paying a fair price. Look at similar properties in the area for comparison.

Of course, you need to read the contract carefully. If you've never purchased this type of property, you want to deal with a trusted, experienced real estate agent. It's also wise to have a real estate attorney read through the contract to help ensure that you aren't in for any unpleasant surprises. They may also be able to help you negotiate more favorable terms before you commit to the purchase.

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