Benefits and Disadvantages of a Condo vs. a House
There are many pros and cons to purchasing a condo and pros and cons to purchasing a single-family house. If you've never bought any real estate before it helps to know the difference between these two, what home ownership is like, and the benefits to each. One might be more beneficial to your situation over the other. You might start with the condominium and eventually move up to a house. If you've purchased real estate before you still might be wondering about the advantages and disadvantages of each and what should one suits your lifestyle at this point in time better.
A condominium is simply an attached home. This can be attached as in a duplex, townhome, patio home, series of apartment type homes or even aloft. It can be in one large building or several smaller buildings that are connected by a garage or even a multiplex. Condominiums will usually share at least one wall with another tenant or owner. You might also have more renters in a condominium complex than owners but this depends on the covenants and restrictions and how many owner occupied homes are required to maintain the Association.
Condominiums are typically part of a homeowners association. This means that you will need to pay each month, quarter or annually to be a part of the homeowners association when you own a home in the complex. This is usually the case for townhomes, lofts, villas and condominiums and can range anywhere from $100 a month to several thousand dollars a year. The Association manages common area maintenance such as landscaping, road maintenance, common area building maintenance and amenities. You'll need to factor in this additional cost when considering your monthly mortgage payment since you'll be paying this in addition to and on top of your monthly payment. This association fee will usually go directly to the Association or the property management company in charge of handling the Association.
If you'd like to make changes to the Association or the rules you can apply to be on the board. Usually, these positions are elected so it helps to get along with your neighbors so that you have some influence in future decisions with the Association and how the management is run.
In a condominium you have less authority as to what you'd like to do with the home. Inside the home, as long as you are not damaging the property as a whole or anyone else's property you can usually make changes such as tearing out a wall, installing new flooring, painting, and installing your own appliances. Anything outside of the property is the Association's responsibility and they may attach on special assessments from time to time to cover larger repairs or replacements such as roofs, siding or common area maintenance repairs.
In a condominium many homeowners reap the benefits of on-site amenities, which could cover anything from swimming pools and spas to tennis courts, golf course membership, clubhouses and fitness rooms. Each condominium Association has its own amenities and some may offer more or less and the association fees typically reflect the amount or quality of amenities.
Read more: How to Buy a Condo - from JoeHaydenRealtor.com
When you choose to buy a single-family house it will usually be one property on one lot. You will not have any common shared walls and usually will not be that close to your neighbors. Depending on where you purchase you could also have your own front or back yard, trees, landscaping, and maybe even your own amenities in your private backyard such as a swimming pool, outdoor living room or spa.
The downside is that all of this is your responsibility and you will need to take care of it, repair it or replace it. Depending on which home you purchase you may also be required to pay homeowners association dues. Many gated communities or certain sub developments will have their own associations that require membership dues. Here in the Florida area we have many country clubs that require their own association dues that may offer memberships or golf equity. If you choose a home that is not in an association you won't have to pay any additional fees other than your monthly mortgage payment and interest.
Read more: What do today's Homebuyers Really Want? - by Dave Grbich
Owning your own home is a great investment and can build equity quite rapidly. Many first-time homeowners choose a villa or a condominium to start building equity and ease their way into homeownership. Having the Association be responsible for exterior items while the homeowner is responsible for interior items sets the homeowner up for better preparation later on. Buying a moderately priced condominium now, owning it for two years and gaining equity, then turning the equity into the down payment for a larger home is a smart investment in your home buying future.
Every home, condominium and neighborhood is different so you'll need to find what works best for your future, your budget and your lifestyle. To get started feel free to call me anytime for more details on condominium associations, complexes, and neighborhoods around Palm Beach County.