Category Archives: buying a condo

Condo or House? 4 Questions that Help You Decide Which Home to Buy

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new home owner receiving key in hand after buying homeIf you’re like many first-time home buyers, one of the biggest decisions in your home-buying process is whether to buy a single-family house or a condo.  While you don’t have to make that final decision until you sign on the dotted line at closing (though it’s advantageous to ask your agent to see both your options), it is important to ask these questions as you compare these different types of homes.

Are you okay with shared spaces/common areas?

This is a key part of every home buyer’s decision, since many condos have shared indoor or outdoor spaces.  That space may be a lobby or outdoor yard, all maintained by the condo association.  If you are not comfortable with these shared spaces or think they are too much like an apartment, ask your agent to find condos with minimal common areas or single-family houses where you don’t have any shared spaces.

Are you comfortable with shared walls?

Whether above, below, or side walls, condo owners inevitably have to share walls with their neighbors.  As you tour a condo, decide whether you would be comfortable sharing walls with neighbors—or if there is any reason your neighbors would have problems sharing walls with you.  If you love to practice with your band in your home (loudly) or need loud music to relax after a late shift, you might want to look into purchasing a single-family home.

Do you want to take on yard maintenance?

Owning a condo comes with a huge perk: a permanent vacation from exterior maintenance.  One of the key features that sets a condo apart is the fact that the building and grounds are maintained by the condominium association.

However, if you like to mow the lawn or want to plant a huge garden, a condo may not be the home for you.  In a single-family home, it is your responsibility to do all the maintenance that comes with keeping up your home and yard.  Because these areas are yours to maintain, you can also plant the garden you’ve always dreamed about or paint your home whatever color you want (unless you buy in a subdivision with homeowners association guidelines-ask your real estate agent before you tour the property).

Have I budgeted for condo fees?

Condos may be maintenance-fee, but that maintenance does come with a cost.  As a condo owner, you are required to pay condo fees that cover the costs of maintenance, repairs to the building, and any amenities that may come with the condo.  To find out the fees, ask your real estate agent for the exact amount before you tour the property.  Budget accordingly; though condos are typically cheaper up front, the condo fees can make the total price more expensive than a single-family property.

Single-family homes do not commonly come with these fees, unless you purchase a property covered by a homeowner’s association (HOA).  Talk to your real estate agent before you tour a home to see if there are any HOA fees associated with the property. A quality real estate agent can help you decide whether a condo or single-family home is right for you—and help you find the right property for you.