When it comes to owning a condo, it’s actually quite different than owning a single family home. When it comes time to consider where you want to live; a condo or a single family home, it’s a good idea to consider these factors: Resale Value, Privacy, Space, Cost, Amenities, Maintenance and more. Essentially when you own a condo the “ownership” is just on the insides of the house. Everything outside is usually a shared aspect i.e.; if you have a yard, it’s usually a shared yard. If you are lucky enough, the housing association or builders may have separated the yards with a fence, but the condos are still going to be pretty close together. While owning a condo does have its benefits, it also as per usual, has its drawbacks as well. If you are trying to figure out if you want to buy a single home or a condo, here are a few things you might need to be aware of in each instance.
Exterior Common Areas and Repairs
When you own a home, even if they do have an association fee, you still will be responsible for fixing things like a cracked driveway, broken tiles on your roof, or mowing your own lawn. But, with HOA fees and condos, usually whatever you pay into each year or even a onetime fee, will cover any costs for exterior repairs over time. If you live in a condo where an HOA is not available, then you will not only be responsible for fixing these items, but also paying for them out of pocket.
Location Location Location
This is less of a what’s better (house or condo) and more of an overall benefit, but most of the condos that are built these days are done so by being built close to city centers, malls, restaurants, grocery stores and more. It’s all about convenience. This is also true about town homes – they tend to be the center of everything. Condos also tend to be placed in the city center and usually have transportation routes close by which allow for reduced commute time and lower costs.
Cost of a Condo
If you take a look at a few sites like Zillow and Homes.com you can clearly see that condos have a price advantage. For example, if I look at Hoboken New Jersey, I can clearly see that a 3 bedroom home in a nice area of town and a nice building can cost around $430,000. On the other hand, if I look at single family homes in Hoboken New Jersey, same criteria, I can find homes for around $600,000 on up to 2M. If you are just starting out or you are an older person, that $200,000+ is really going to make a big difference! Of course these prices will vary by state and city, but you get the drift!
Benefits and Amenities
Usually when someone talks about a condo, they know automatically that with it comes certain fringe benefits. Not only will you have a condominium management company taking care of things like mowing the grass or shoveling the snow, but you also might have amenities such as a gym, clubhouse, swimming pool, tennis courts, etc. On the other hand if you consider a home, without all of these benefits, and you want to add them on, you might be paying an extra $50,000+. But, with a condo, it comes with the cost of the home.
Community Living Situation
In most single family home situations you don’t have to deal with privacy issues or neighbors being right up against you. But, with condos you will have to deal with just this. Most of the time condos will be attached. If you can find unattached condos, awesome. But, in most cases these are attached which means you might hear your neighbors watching TV, talking, or whatever else. Especially true if the walls are ultra-thin! Another thing you have to consider are shared common areas. This might be a great way to get to know your neighbor, but if you are a quiet person or like to be alone, well, let’s just say it might be unwanted attention.
Not only are you going to be responsible for monthly bills like electricity and water, as well as mortgage payments if you didn’t pay for the condo outright, but you are also going to have to deal with fees. These fees which are usually called HOA or Home Owners Association Fees are essentially “dues” that are collected monthly or yearly depending on the association. These are a forever thing. They will never stop.
Usually when you purchase a home, you can do whatever you want to it. You can build a pool in the backyard, add on a new part of the house, change your exterior paint colors, etc. But, when it comes to a condo, there will be certain rules you will have to follow. Rules are different and varying for each association. But, in most cases, these rules are the ones I mentioned above. You can’t just go and dig in your yard and build a swimming pool. You cannot add onto the condo. You cannot paint the outside of the house, paint the door a different color, shutters, etc. Most associations have a specific rule about exterior things like paint – they want every home to look the same. If you don’t follow HOA rules, you could be fined.