Whether you are a first-time homebuyer or searching for home number ten, buying a condo instead of a house may be the perfect choice. Most condos are essentially a hybrid between an apartment and a single-family home. They are great for certain lifestyles but they aren’t for everyone, so here are some of the pros and cons to consider before buying a condo:
- Amenities. Having your own pool in the backyard can cost thousands of dollars to install and maintain, and gym memberships typically cost at least $50 per month. Most condominium communities have on-site gyms, pools and even tennis courts that residents can use without ever having to clean or fix.
- Security. Many condo buildings have full-time security guards and surveillance cameras. You may also be required to use some sort of key card to access the parking garage, and several sets of doors and elevators before arriving at your own door. While most condos are located in urban areas, these extra security measures make many residents feel safer than they would in their own home.
- Maintenance/Yard Work. Unless you are one of those who loves doing it yourself, having someone else mow the lawn and shovel snow is a big perk to condo living. You’ll have to rely on someone else’s schedule more often, but it’s great for older residents or those who spend a lot of time out of town.
- Affordability. As with any type of real estate, condo prices will vary depending on location and size. But more often than not, you’ll be able to find a condo for a lower price than a similar single-family home—just don’t forget to factor in homeowners’ association fees.
- National median existing-condo price: $248,200
- National median existing-home price: $269,000
- A Sense of Community. It’s pretty difficult to ignore your neighbors when you’re constantly running into each other in the elevator. Some condo communities even host resident events in the communal spaces. Of course, many next-door neighbors in houses become friends as well, but there’s just something about sharing walls that strengthens a bond.
- Storage. If you’re moving from a small apartment, the lack of storage may not be much of an issue. But if you’re coming from a four-bedroom house with a two-car garage and a shed in the backyard—it may be a deal-breaker. Some condominiums have communal bike storage and maybe even a storage shed for each unit, but it’s not going to be as much as you’d get at a single-family home.
- Outdoor Space. Remember how you no longer have to mow the lawn? Well, that also means you don’t have a lawn to enjoy. There may be a beautiful courtyard and even a specified area for dogs, but space belongs to everyone in the building and it likely won’t be as spacious as what you’d get with your own backyard.
- Association Membership. This is where you contribute to the cost of maintaining the gym, pool, courtyard and any other amenity enjoyed by everyone in the homeowners’ association. HOA fees often range from $200 to $400 per month. You’ll also be asked to follow the rules of the association. If you want homeownership to mean you can do whatever you want with your space, condo life may not be for you.
- Resale. Selling a condo can be more challenging than selling a home because there are probably several units exactly like it in the same building. If you have the best view, this might make it easier, but knowing how much to ask for your unit compared to your neighbor’s can be difficult.
- Proximity. Even if you enjoy the sense of community that comes with living in a condo, you may not like being able to hear your neighbor’s dog barking or door slamming at all hours. Much like living in an apartment, privacy is hard to come by in a large condominium complex.
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