The Battle of the Homes: Condos vs Houses

Many people assume the difference between a condo and a house is that one has a yard and one typically does not. There is much more to it than just that, and it is important to know all of the factors when deciding on which one to buy. Another area people can get confused about is the difference between a townhouse style and apartment style. Both of these fall under “condominium” as that is a TYPE of ownership. Townhouse and apartment refer to the style of the home.

What is best for you?

This is a question that only you can answer, but one that some people don’t think about long enough before answering. The answer really comes down to your lifestyle, and your wants and needs. If you have a large family and want a yard with space for them to use freely, then a condo probably isn’t for you. If you really enjoy your space, privacy, and having absolute control over all the decisions that affect your home, a condo probably isn’t for you. If you live a busy life and would like to simplify your living arrangements by having virtually no yard work or snow removal, then a condo may be what you’re looking for. If you’re looking to down size after owning a large home, but aren’t quite ready to give up the comforts a home provides, a bungalow style condo may be what you are after. If you are a first time home buyer and owning a house and all that goes with it seems intimidating, a condo is probably a good step to get into the market. You can always move into a house when you and your lifestyle demand it.

Both houses and condominiums afford tons of different styles and options. Traditionally the real estate market was primarily driven by houses. Over the past few years we are starting to see this change. The demand for condos has risen, and as a result, new condo developments are abundant. Even within the last year, there has been a huge growth in condo conversion projects happening across the country. There are a variety of different styles of condos, each with their own benefits. Apartment style condos are for those who generally need less space and don’t mind the atmosphere of an apartment-style living situation. They generally either have underground, secure parking or outdoor parking available to the owners. Townhouses are geared towards people who need a bit more space with a bit more privacy. There are quite a few townhouses available with single car garages but just as many without. The next step up is a bungalow style condo which gives people in most cases as much room as a home but with less exterior maintenance.

Both types of ownership are great investments, as long as you are aware of what types of repairs may be needed in the near future for both types of ownerships. If you are looking at a condo it is important to familiarize yourself with the condo board and how they operate. Find out what you as a home owner are responsible for. As our real estate market continues to grow, so does the need for affordable housing and condos are a great first step.

Houses

  • Private yard.
  • Maintenance outside is always required.
  • Not required to ask anyone if you want to paint your outside door or put on a new light or a new mailbox.
  • No condo fees.
  • You are responsible for all insurance costs.
  • You have total control (within the law) of what you can do to your property

Condos

  • Generally freedom to do what you wish inside (within the law and your condo agreement), but outside you normally need permission from the condo board for many changes and/or improvements.
  • Monthly condo fees that usually include water and sewage, and generally in the case of apartment style condos heat is also included (if it is hot water heat, watch out for electrical heat).
  • Exterior maintenance including snow removal and landscaping is taken care of by the condo association (from your monthly condo fees).
  • Insurance that covers the exterior and the building structure itself are part of your condo fees (but you will need your own personal insurance for the interior and personal affects, much like renters insurance).

Shared Common Spaces

Condos can often have restrictions put in place when the condo board was first setup or that have been voted on by everyone in the condo association.

Things to watch for are:

  • Pet restrictions,
  • Age restrictions,
  • Rental permission, etc.

Other key things to consider when looking at condos are:

  • Do they have enough money in the reserve fund to cover maintenance and other issues?
  • How do they pay for major improvements? (From reserves collected from monthly fees or from special individual/group assessments for small or large sums of money to put towards these improvements)
  • Are there any plans for future improvements?

More and more people are considering condos, and as a result, there has been a huge rise in the development of condos in the real estate market. It is important, though, that when deciding to buy a home, you determine the type that you want. 

*Information courtesy of : http://www.bigwhitepropertygroup.com/buying-and-selling/condos-vs-houses/

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Paul Hatsisavvas

Paul Hatsisavvas

Sales Representative
CENTURY 21 Leading Edge Realty Inc., Brokerage*
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