Condominiums, typically known as “condos” are usually on the radar for all first time homebuyers, whether they’re looking to downsize in a suburb, or leave an apartment to get more space in a busy city. If you are seriously considering purchasing a condo, here are a few questions to ask yourself to make sure it’s the right fit.
Is a condo the right fit for you?
A condo is one living unit that is part of a larger multi-housing complex. These larger entities can include less than 10 or even over 100 individual condos, that are all individually owned. The owners are responsible for the upkeep of their own property, but also have to contribute to the community as well through HOA fees. These fees go towards the maintenance and upkeep of communal areas that are included on the complex grounds. This can include pools, bbq pits, landscape, ballrooms and more. The people who reside in the complex usually get to vote into who is in charge of running the HOA amongst themselves.
The most important difference between a condo and an apartment is that an apartment is rented or leased, and a condo is owned. From the outside, they can look very similar structurally, and there are individuals living in each unit. In an apartment there are typically no HOA fees however, some portion of the rent may be used to take care of the apartment grounds. Apartments also have rules and limitations since those living in the units are short term renters.
Although you can purchase a house and condo to own, the main difference though is when you buy a home, it is a stand alone building that you own along with the land that it comes on. Most houses don’t have an HOA unless it is part of a planned community. Because of this, when condos need maintenance, the HOA takes care of it, but for a house, any problems that occur are up to the owner to deal with.
Houses are very unique and vary door to door. With different square footage, lot sizes, multiple or single stories and architectural differences. They also have yards and garages, something condos don’t usually include. Condos are meant to house multiple people in smaller spaces, usually located closer to cities. The argument usually comes down to proximity to city life versus space to own.
The last difference is that houses will usually sell faster than a condo and also gain more value over time, therefore houses are arguably a better return of investment.
Condos and townhouses both usually share common spaces for parking and socializing so both places have HOA fees. Townhouses are usually a lot lower because they play a less integral part of a townhome community and give more freedom to the owners. Because of this townhouses usually have less amenities than a condo. Townhouses are also multi stories and give more square-footage to the owners.
HOA fees on average range from $200-$400 but of course there are some communities that charge lower or higher, it all depends on the location and amenities of where you live. Be careful with HOA fees less than $200. This can often be a sign that the HOA is not as involved as they should be and will charge you for maintenance in the future.
Time to find your dream condo?