Buying a Condo vs. a House | Things to Consider

by | Jan 31, 2021 | Buying

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First time homebuyers aspiring to own a home will certainly be faced with many choices and challenges. One choice will be determining if it’s better to buy a house or a condo. Condos offer less upkeep, look more modern, and might seem more affordable while houses offer more freedom and privacy.

Additionally the economics of a condo vs. a house will need to be taken into account. Below are some things to consider when deciding on which type of home to buy.

What is a condo?

Condos are residential units within buildings or communities. They are more like apartments that you own within a shared building. The units often share their walls with other apartment units. Residents of condos frequently share common areas, outdoor space, facilities and amenities such as gyms or swimming pools.

Condos are popular amongst first-time home buyers because they can be less expensive than houses even with the HOA fees.

What is a single family house?

A single family house is a free standing residence with four outside walls that are not connected to any other home. They usually have their own lot and land with a yard. The owner of these properties also owns the land underneath the house and any other structures like a garage.

Costs of owning a condo

The monthly expenses associated with owning a condo are usually less than owning an entire house. Condos are much smaller in square footage and since you are only responsible for the interior of your home, there are less expenses. Additionally, the board or homeowners association covers costs like landscaping, roofing, exterior walls etc.

On the flip side, condos charge HOA fees which is an area where the costs of a condo can become expensive. HOA fees become more expensive as there are more amenities such as doormen, swimming pools, dog parks, gyms, security systems, boilers, etc. It’s important to keep in mind which amenities are important to you because the more that you want, the more the HOA is going to be.

Another cost to consider is homeowners insurance. Since you are only responsible for the interior and not exterior maintenance, homeowner’s insurance costs a lot less than it does for a single house.

Costs of owning a single family house

Single-family homes are going to be more expensive than condos for several reasons. Usually they are larger in size than condos and ownership of the home encompasses everything, inside and out.

Insurance will be more expensive as well since the whole place is being insured including the property it sits on. You’ll have to consider costs like landscaping, maintaining gutters, roof, mowing the lawn, etc.

What are the pros and cons of living in a condo vs a house?

There differences between the lifestyles associated with condo living and single family houses is significant. Each type of property has its pros and cons.

1. Condo residents live alongside others in a community

You are going to be a lot closer to neighbors when walls are shared and you’ll also have more opportunities to interact with neighbors in communal areas such as the gym, pool, or HOA meetings. 

The pro of this is that a well managed community with neighbors that get along can be an incredible way to maintain a sense of community. The cons of this are that it only takes a few undesirable neighbors to make the whole community annoying to be a part of.

2. More privacy in a house

Since you aren’t going to be sharing any of your four walls with anyone, there is a lot more privacy with owning a single family home. You won’t hear people above you or below you, you’ll likely have your own yard to do what you want with, etc. The pros of this are more freedom to do what you want with your property but the cons come down to how social you want to be with neighbors.

3. HOAs run everything when owning a condo

Before committing to owning a condo, make sure to read the condo covenant carefully to familiarize yourself with rules and regulations. You might find that the rules are ridiculous and that you don’t want to obey them (color of drapes).

A good HOA can make life easier and increase the value of the property. That is what they exist for. A poorly maintained HOA can do the opposite and research needs to be done before buying one. Look to see if there have been recent special assessments and how much money is in the bank. If there are always special assessments and the HOA has very little money, this could spell trouble for you as a condo owner. The pros of an HOA only exists when the condo is well run and the cons exist if the HOA is run poorly.

Conclusion

There are many things to take into consideration when choosing between a condo and a house. These largely depend on your finances and your personal preferences when it comes to freedom and privacy vs socializing along with following more rules.

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