Considering a Condo

Author: Alecia Pirulis


The idea of an apartment is appealing – no lawn maintenance, great amenities, and lower utility bills – but then, buying a house is an investment – it is yours to paint, remodel, redecorate, and renovate. So what do you do when you want the convenience of apartment living and the independence of your own home? Consider a condo!

A condominium may seem like the best of both worlds: you own the unit so you can alter it to reflect your needs and your lifestyle. It’s an investment – something you can keep, sell, or maybe even rent. But you have the amenities, the lower utility bills, and the carefree maintenance of an apartment. So, what are the benefits (and the drawbacks) of buying a condo?

The Benefits:

–Very low-maintenance. Someone else is mowing the lawn, repairing or repainting the siding, replacing the roof, cleaning the pool, shoveling the sidewalks, etc.

–The amenities. Many condos include a pool, a clubhouse, a fitness room, and possibly even tennis courts.

–Location! Housing communities tend to be in the suburbs, leading to frustrating commutes into the city for work. Condominiums are usually located in the city. In coastal areas, you can find condos on the beach with private beach access – a definite bonus.

–Flexibility. Condos are typically less expensive than buying a house. If, after a few years, you decide to buy a house, you can sell the condo or keep it and rent it out – making a condo a great source of extra income in the future.

–Tax breaks. Buying a condo means you get the same tax benefits as those buying single-family homes.

The Drawbacks:

–There are rules to follow. Most condominiums have an association that sets forth rules for the building. These can be quite helpful, keeping the condo looking appealing and thereby keeping the value of the units up, but they can also be somewhat intrusive. An association can place restrictions on pet ownership, whether or not you can rent out your unit, noise levels, or even constraints on what you place on your patio or balcony.

— Lack of privacy. A condo is still a community – there are shared walls, ceilings, and floors. The pool, fitness room, and even the parking area are all shared spaces. Decide how important privacy is to you, because a condo is very similar to an apartment with regard to neighbors and noise levels.

— Condos are individually owned – and individually rented out. Although the condo association can fine those in violation of the rules, it may be more difficult to work out your personal differences with a neighbor than it would be in an apartment building – especially if that person is renting.

— HOA fees. Most condos have monthly fees to cover maintenance and upkeep of the grounds and amenities. These fees can be changed to meet unexpected needs, and you will pay the HOA fees for as long as you own the condo.

–You won’t have room to grow. Your needs could change – for example, the condo you buy as a single 20-year-old may not fit your needs in 10 years or so, when you may be married and even have a child or two. A house can be expanded to fit the needs of a growing family – a condo cannot. You can remodel the inside of the condo – but the available square footage can never be altered.