Whether you’re children are just starting out or upgrading and you are either upgrading or downsizing to your ultimate retirement pad, choosing a home is both a financial and practical consideration. Owning a condo has many of the same benefits of owning a single-family home. But there are some rules and restrictions boomers and millennials alike often face when going the condo route. For millennials just starting out, saving up for the down payment and getting qualified for a loan can be financially stressful. For many baby boomers, the considerations are more practical than financial. Downsizing from a large home is appealing because the responsibilities that come with homeownership can be burdensome as we age.
There is a great option worth considering by both baby boomers and their children: condominium ownership. Owning a condo has many of the same benefits of owning a single-family home. You can build equity and benefit from tax incentives that come with homeownership as well as the stability that homeownership provides. But there are potential downsides. Some condo rules may be an unpleasant surprise for many millennials. For baby boomers, living in a building or being apart of a community and abiding by the restrictions could be a challenge, particularly after owning a single-family home for years. Here are some rules and restrictions baby boomers and millennials alike often face when going the condo route:
Your hardwood floors will need to be (partially) covered: living on top or below others can sometimes be a nuisance. For millennials, they likely have recent experience with communal living, either in a dorm room, a rental building or even back in their parents’ home. For baby boomers who have lived under their own roof for many years, this could be a shock to the system. But imagine what it would be like to live in a buildings full of hardwood floors and little-to-no carpet to absorb the noise. Nearly every multi-level story condo will require every owner to cover at least 80% of the floors.
You can’t use your parking space for storage: many condo units come with at least one dedicated parking space, often in a garage. As a condo owner, you own that dedicated parking space, even if you don’t have a car. Many millennials forgo cars for bike shares and public transportation. To them, a deeded parking space with their condo might seem like a wasted space. So why not use it for storage, especially when closet space is at a premium? Boomers who are used to turning a garage into a storage locker, garden center, or workspace might wonder if they could do the same with their condo parking space. In most cases, the condo’s rules and regulations won’t allow it.
There will be noise restrictions: most condo rules specify that between certain hours (generally 10 pm and 8am), occupants must not interfere with other owners’ quiet enjoyment. The rule is frequently and is likely music to the ears of a boomer concerned with leaving their private, single-family home for community living. For a millennial who is still in their party years and the noise comes with it, this is a big consideration. It’s important, if you’re sensitive to noise, to understand how the building was constructed. Is there concrete between the floors, or is it all wood? How well does noise transfer? This is an important rule for both noisy and noise-sensitive people who fail to consider this before embarking on condo ownership.
You may have to kiss your pets’ goodbye: until they’re well into the real estate search, few people realize that many condo buildings have pet restrictions. In some places, it’s not legal to completely outlaw pets. Restrictions regarding the type and number of pets will exist in any condo development. Do you have a Great Dane that weighs more than 50 pounds? She may not be welcome in the condo community of your dreams. Year after year, buyers have to forego great apartments simply because of a pet. Knowing this before you get too involved in the real estate process will help soften the blow when you discover that your pet(s) aren’t welcome.
You may not be able to rent your condo: many condo boards have restrictions on the number of rentals allowed in the building. Having a high percentage of renters makes it harder for new buyers to get a loan. Homeowners believe that owners who are present have more of a vested interest in caring for the building than a tenant, who has much less at stake. If you’ve been dreaming of making some extra cash with short-term rentals, you better check the condo’s rules and restrictions first, as some will forbid such rentals. Bottom line: find out the rules for renting, as well as the current percentage for renters, before you buy.
Know before you go: if you’re not ready to give in to some of the restrictions that come with condo ownership, you might want to reconsider. While some condo owners are more lenient than others, you should go into a condo with eyes wide open. Before signing on the dotted line, you’ll have the opportunity to read through the housing rules, covenants, conditions and restrictions. This will help you learn as much as possible about the condo and rules.
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